Throughout the fall, the children noticed changes happening in a tree in the outdoor classroom. They watched the leaves change colors and then fall to the ground. They observed the tree from different vantage points. They have seen the tree from below, looking up into the leaves from the sandpit and they have seen the leaves and fruit high in the tree as they stood on ladders and looked out the window of the Rainey Room. The changing view out the window provided ample opportunities for observational drawing.
Like all young children, our friends in the Rainey Room have active imaginations which often manifest in their drawings. However, observational drawing provides an opportunity for them to focus on their environment and helps them to organize their thoughts and understandings of the world around them when they begin to represent what they see with detail and accuracy. Through this process they develop new ideas that are more scientifically sound, thus constructing their own knowledge of the world.
Mimi: I’m drawing the whole playground. The teacher, the kids, the houses! That’s a pumpkin on top of the houses. Some kids are wearing dresses.
After drawing four leaves, Whit looked at each one of them carefully, made an assessment of its accuracy, and then made an addition to his drawing: Leaves with stems. Oh, that one needs a stem.
Once the leaves had fallen, the children noticed fruit on the tree and began to draw from their observations.
Cal: I see the persimmons and the birds. I only draw one persimmon. I draw a big circle. Why do all the things inside the persimmons go on the ground? There’s nothing on the big tree. I think the wind blow them away.
Isabelle: Persimmons on the tree outside. I saw like a bird eating the persimmons.
Zari: I made the persimmons and the birds were eating the persimmons, because they were really hungry.
In the outdoor classroom, the children shared their observations as well.
Charlton: They’re (the birds) are eating the persimmons. Persimmons are yucky.
Seon: Persimmons are actually good. They taste sweet.
Bailee: They (the birds) have almost finished all of them (persimmons on the tree).
Isabelle: The persimmons.
Seon: I will sit and watch the birds.
Whit: (The birds) are eating the persimmons.
Seon: Persimmons are sweet and juicy and good for you.
Ford: They look like pumpkins.
Whit: Persimmons are everywhere (on the ground). I think the birds chopped them off!
Mimi: They (the birds) ate them.
Seon: The birds are almost eating all of the persimmons. They are going to eat all of them.
Ellie: They will eat the bird feeders (next).
Seon: They are some hungry birds!
The Persimmon Catcher
As more and more leaves fell, the children had a better view of the persimmons. They watched the birds each day and saw how they were able to reach the persimmons. One day, Cal decided that he needed to collect some persimmons and wondered how he could reach them. He and Ava talked about the challenge of reaching the persimmons. Soon after, they began to solve the problem of reaching the persimmons by building a "persimmon catcher." Charlton, Ford and Rawls were quick to join the construction.
Cal: We’re building this to getting the oranges (persimmons). To put in this red. bucket to take them to my house, so mommy can try them because I think she will like them
Cal: So we need all the wood.
Karen: That sounds like a really big project!
Cal: Yes, So we need everyone to help. It’s kinda like a ladder so we need all those blocks.
Ava: Cal, go back up there. Try that one over there. The red one (hollow block) and the white one (hollow block).
Charlton: We’re building this to get to the persimmons.
Cal: It’s a kind of ladder.
Rawls: It's a persimmon pole knocker-offer.
Ford: It's gonna be good for to reach the persimmons.
Cal: It’s a persimmon catcher.
Inspired by the children's noticing of colors of the persimmons, we developed a collage provocation with a palette of brown, orange and yellow hues. Before beginning the studio experience, Karen asked Louisa and Ava, "What do you notice in these photographs?"
Louisa: Because they (persimmons) are orange.
Ava: So orange!
Our intention was to inspire not only creativity, but also conversation between the children by setting up a collaborative studio experience.
Louisa: Next to…right here. Yes.
Ava: There are so many choices.
Louisa: It’s not sticking, I could wrap ribbon.
Ava: I put more (glue) on because it does not stick.
Lousia picked up a paper square and folded it: That’s a triangle. I put glue on it. Inside (to hold the triangle in shape).
Ava: It’s not sticky. I need more glue.
Louisa picked up a piece of gold foil ribbon: This is not a persimmon color because it is golden.
Ava: These are yellow (picking up ribbon).
Louisa: I know we can tie it around the paper. I need to cut this because I cut this because it was too long.
The materials inspired conversations as the children made connections to their own lives and shared with one another as they created.
Ellie: I going to use the poppy ones (bubble wrap) because I love to pop them on the floor.
Mimi: Like when you step on the and they pop like when I’m with my brother.
Ellie: I have one brother and one sister.
Louisa: I have one sister. No, two sisters.
Ava: I don’t have a sister or a brother.
Mimi: Louisa you have two Ellies. One at school and one at home.
Ellie to Mimi: You want a big one or a small one (material)?
Mimi: I don’t want more poppies. Too many poppies.
Ellie: Funny. Those triangles. I need help, Louisa.
Louisa: You have to cut it.
Ellie: It’s too long. We need to cut it here. We need to cut it together. Here you go Louisa.
Whit: I'm going to put this (ribbon) here. I'm going to stick it.
Charlton: I like it because it's orange paper. This feels like cloth. This feels like paper. Cloth. Paper. Plastic.