As the claywork is still in the process of drying this week we worked together to create a castle/palace - the idea being to recycle the Morocco isnpired painting as the background to the palace/castle. I had cut out a whole load of brick shaped using some of the Together paintings... but I saw there was a total lack of interest in creating that effect... and with the space being shared by another group (but in another area) it was just too distracting to be able to try and inspire them with this idea. The atmosphere was just too busy for the kind of concentration the brick pattern making project would entail... so a fast change of plan to meet the needs of the children and the situation...
The focus became on the towers and how we could create towers. I asked them to look around the atelier to find something suitable... they all started looking aimlessly... so I jumped in and suggested some areas that would be good to check first (like the two big boxes filled with junk material that they were totaly ignoring).
We talked about how we could fix the towers onto the body of the castle (that they decided should be tall rather than wide) - with tape... so I presented an idea about making some cuts in the tubes that they had chosen from the junk boxes to allow the towers to sit more sturdy, explaing that they could choose whether or not to use this technique and also if they did use it they could decide how long the cuts should be and that it would affect the size of the tower...
Of the five children three of them needed help with the cutting, one needed just a little guidance and the last made so many cuts that it worked anyway. They then had to collaborate holding the castle base as they stuck on their towers - this was not entirely easy, as it meant having to focus on holding when you weren't doing the interesting bit... and also being observant of how to hold it to meet the needs of the child sticking their tower. This worked with varying amounts of success, and is obvioulsy something we need to practice more at ;-)
Once the towers were in place they got to choose the colour of their tower (yes, it might have been easier to paint FIRST - but that would have not forced the children to problem solve or collaborate). The problem being that the towers were all so close together it would be hard for them to paint at the same time, so they needed to collaborate to work out a way that they could paint the towers and not each other!!!
This also needed some support as the idea of waiting a while was not appealing to any of the children... all wanted to paint FIRST. But with patience and with explanations we could work out who was able to wait and so the towers got painted. We also had to talk about the type of paintbrush to use - learning the difference between a big/wide paintbrush and one with a long handle but a thin tip... and WHY it was a good idea to use a wide brush. So much being learned.
Afterwards the children cleaned their pots and brushes... and for one child this was a magical moment of observing how the water was turned green.
The other group were in the Blue Room busy building a castle using the BIG blocks, cushions, climbing equipment and BIG/LONG tubes. Again the focus being on collaboration.
Both groups had access to the same five photos of castles as inspiration... as printed laminated photos in the atelier and projected onto the wall in the Blue Room...
I will ask Ellen for some photos of that session, they looked like they were really enjoying their creative construction.
Our focus on collaboration and TOGETHERness is all part of supporting the children in their awareness of empathy.