Saturday, December 31, 2011

Improvising at Lee: a-last-day-of-school anti-craft!

We unexpectedly had to work in a new space our last day before break. It was a classroom of desks with little space for supplies. Schedules were off because of a fabulous, gifty- celebration for the kids before they left on vacation - so printmaking was definitely out. Thankfully, the afterschool program had a bunch of "crafty" materials (pipecleaners, glitter glue, foam shapes, beads, buttons, wikistix) that were beautifully organized by artists a few weeks earlier. So I set up a "buffet" of as much stuff that could be used somehow for a hanging ornament. I am THRILLED that this group didn't bat an eyelash when I said, "use the materials however you want. See if you can have an idea no one else has had. If you want to, use a hole punch so that what you make can be hung up, on a tree, or a window, or whatever. Also, a starting point might be cutting a shape from this thick paper." I had a stash of "mirror sticker sheets" and created a bunch of sheets of cardstock with a shiny side for them to use. They made the coolest, strangest stuff. Again, a sign of success. 

I'm sure some of the parents were looking at these off the wall objects, wishing for a candy-cane shaped ornament or a snowman card. If so, I appreciate the patience. Please, when you see these things, or when kids have nothing at all to show from "art class" - it's because they are learning to be creative. They are learning to experiment, to problem solve, to be courageous, to focus, to think for themselves, to think "out of the box", to recognize and appreciate their uniqueness, to imagine, to deal with failure, and define success for themselves. They are learning to find joy in what they do, besides doing things for the approval of others. This program aims to nurture parts of a child's self that doesn't get much space to grow in a packed school day. 
                                                                                                                   I hope you will support our work, and your young artist, by asking them questions that show you are interested in them as a one-of-a-kind creative genius! What are they doing? What materials are they using? What's their favorite? Why? What do they find difficult? Having a quick conversation like that with a child can have a HUGE impact - I get to see that myself every week, and I hope you do too!

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