When we began having intentional small group conversations with the children about the black and white areas, we heard quite a few children refer to the black area as night (e.g. "It's night and day! Night and day!" - Nora, 5.0 years). The white area had some variation (day, snow, etc.), but after these conversations, and listening to some of their dramatic play in that area, we decided to start a bigger conversation about night.
Jen, Melanie, and I sat down to think about questions we would ask the children about night. We thought about what we would ask to expand on this initial idea. The first, and most obvious question was, "What is night?" We wanted, however, to expand our own minds about what that might mean, and how we could truly dig into the children's thoughts and imagination.
The first small group included Lucia, Reed, Lochie, and Jane. We did sit down in the atelier to talk about night for a few minutes before we started watercoloring, drawing, and painting, and their thoughts about night were thoughtful and divergent.
Here are some highlights from the conversation:
What is night?
"Night is night." - Reed, 4.7 years
"Night is when it's all dark." - Lochie, 5.0 years
"Yeah, you have to use a flashlight." - Lucia, 4.5 years
"Of you sleep. Or you just turn the lights on in your bedroom then you look outside." - Reed, 4.7 years
"[...] I was looking at a star, and I looked out and there was a moon and one single star." - Lucia, 4.5 years
"Right now it's day, so that's what day is, but sky might change. It just changes itself." - Lucia, 4.5 years
How do we know then it's night?
"When it's all black." - Lucia, 4.5 years
"Black is black." - Reed, 4.7 years
"And white is light." - Lucia, 4.5 years
What happens at night? What do you do at night?
"Eat dinner, that's a really good one." - Lucia
Small group #2
For the second small group, we had a very large tray for all four children to do tray mixing after the initial part of our conversation (thank you to the Rodriguez family for that kind donation). The beautiful thing about working with our hands as we talk, is that ideas expand as we create. The children's conversation was constant as they worked. Their colors gave them new ideas, but also seeing what the other children were doing; they inspire each other.
Here are some highlights from that conversation:
What is night?
"Night has black on the sky. Night is when it's black on the sky, and there's a moon, and stars, and sometimes you see the planets. Sometimes the moons come in different shapes - a crescent moon, a half moon, or a full moon." - Elle, 4.11 years
"But the moon glows." - Giacomo, 4.11 years
"And the stars shine." - Elle
When is it night?
"It comes when the day ends." - Giacomo
"It's many hours, and then after those hours, it is night." - Sylvie, 4.10 years
What happens at night?
"Well, what happens at night is that creatures like owls come out." - Giacomo
"Bats come out." - Elle
What does night feel like?
"It feels spooky." - Giacomo, 4.11 years
How big is night?
"Right now the day is shorter." - Sylvie, 4.10 years
"When it's night in a different part of the world...in Washington when it's night...in a different part of the world it can be morning." - Giacomo, 4.11 years
"Right now my cousins are in Japan asleep." - Nora, 5.1 years
"It's as big right now as...the sun will be shining on all of...every single part of Washington. Why is it night on a different side, and morning on a different side? Because this side is facing the sun, and the back is facing no sun. So, it will be night on the other side." - Giacomo, 4.11 years
Are there colors of night?
"Black!" - Elle
"White!" - Giacomo and Nora
"Yellow." - Sylvie
"Yellow for the stars, and white for the moon, and black for the sky." - Elle
"Dark yellow. You see the yellow on the house if you look at it. If it's dark enough, you can't see the yellow." - Giacomo
"In the night time, if it's light, it's not night. In the evening, if it's gray, it means it's the evening." - Sylvie