The importance of observing
Taking the time to observe, to see and notice details, can make us more sensitive to the world around us. - Jen
We often ask the children to stop, observe something, and share their thoughts/insights/reflections. This slows down our process in a way that offers them time and space to notice details about an object, experience, photograph, structure, drawing, painting, tree, friend, etc. The children's voices are the driving force behind everything that we do; they are guiding us as we guide them. Observations are a very important part of our process (as both teachers and children).
The importance of drawing
Drawing is a language that is used almost on a daily basis here at St. John's. I would like to share some thoughts from both former and current St. John's teachers about the importance of drawing:
Examining details, and the practice of observing closely, develops focus for an extended period of time while also encouraging fine motor development [fine motor development that contributes to pencil grip, fine motor strength, grip/strength/coordination for handwriting later on as well]. Mark making and drawing provoke thought and elicit details and aspects of children’s work that you might not otherwise see or know was there. It’s another way for children to express their thoughts and ideas, it’s a way for teachers/grownups to listen. - Jessica Kuhn
[Drawing is] an opportunity for children to verbally process at the same time, so while they’re drawing they’re explaining their idea further, whereas before they might’ve been more vague with their planning. Drawing encourages children to identify shapes, colors, textures, patterns, and size quantities that are important to their theory or plan. I think that every time children draw, they can learn one new thing about what shapes/lines are best to communicate their idea. - Melanie Ruston
Drawings [can be used] as references to help their process. - Elena
Drawing is the most immediate connection to the brain. It taps into an ancient mode of expression -before verbal language existed. It is a mode of communication that we have at our disposal that many do not develop, and therefore do not have the pleasure of using (another tool in the toolbox). There are different kinds of drawing-expressive/figurative/imaginative, and then there’s drawing from life-observational drawing which is the one that I think is more “troubling”, because there is a discrepancy between what we know and what we see and how to represent that--you have to train your brain to draw what you see. Drawing and seeing go hand and hand. - Jen
After Jack had drawn each piece of the "fall arrangement" individually (as seen below), he took time to draw the entire set up. He drew the white pumpkin first, and then paused to think about how to draw the orange pumpkin and tree cookie behind it. This seemed to be the toughest part of the process, and certainly took some perseverance. Jack talked a lot about the lines he saw in each piece. We [Melanie and I] have since reflected on the tools we offer for "filling in the color" when drawing; perhaps colored pencils are not the most conducive tool for this part of the process. These reflections and observations influence how we present the materials and tools the next time.
Keeping in mind that we wanted to offer tools that are more conducive to filling in the color of a drawing, we set up more observational drawing with colored pencils, oil pastels, and watercolors (palette and liquid). We will continue to offer many experiences like this, especially as we continue to observe the transformation of fall colors all around us.
The Tucker Room environment
A few things have been updated and changed in the Tucker Room since our parent tour, so we wanted to show you a few photos!
The documentation from that board has been condensed and is still available for the children, but it's now in our cozy area!
An updated birthday calendar! Melanie has been taking beautiful photos of the children for the birthday calendar. During morning meeting and snack conversations, the children have observed the birthday order, and we've discussed the months and how they correspond with the calendar. Just last week, Nora and C.C. were the only two with colors to mark their months. A conversation about this sparked ideas from the children about what colors should represent each month.
"I want light blue for my month." - Maxon
"I like sparkly." - Janie
"January for Sylvie could be gold." - Reed
"I think June should be yellow because the sun is out." - Jack
The final three photos will be added next week!