The wonder of Autumn through the eyes of a child is something many of us may take for granted. The brightly changing leaves are a thing of magic and breathtaking majesty. A child in our program is of an age that he or she may only remember one or two forays into the colorful world of Autumn. It is our hope, as partners in learning, to nurture this appreciation of the natural world as each child develops and matures into a responsible steward of our planet. Partly with this in mind and party with giddy excitement for the seasons, we continued our exploration of line to include an exploration of leaf.After bringing in overflowing baskets of fall inspirations, we began our inquiry into the great changes taking place in our surroundings.
When we approach a new topic we start with a question, many of them beginning with: "I wonder...", "Have you noticed...". We pursue the child's learning with additional questions, like, "Why do you think that happened?" or "What might happen next?". The teacher, as participant, researcher and observer, records each answer.
I am always startled by the freshness and insight of their ideas and explanations. While we talk, we often draw.Some students traced the leaves while others made free handed representations.This child created an elaborate piece, carefully placing each leaf on the page after removing it from its stem and tracing around its curving form.As the children worked together, conversation ebbed and flowed, during this process several possible ideas emerged for a project. One centered around creating a tree for the school, with real leaves falling to the ground. Another idea involved pressing leaves into sand or mud to create a collage of leaves.Still other ideas involved categorizing leaves, or capturing them before "the fall".Once the rains cleared, students began sojourning onto the playgrounds in search of a particular leaf to explore and draw. Many of the older students chose to make leaf books, each page a record of a particular leaf and the child's process of looking.One student became very intrigued by the idea of ephemeral art in the style of Andy Goldsworthy. He spent over twenty minutes immersed in Goldsworthy's book, Passages, and spontaneously began drawing images from the pages, creating a collection of "art ideas" to add to his leaf book.
We have sent home a project for our community consisting of a brown paper lunch bag and an invitation to fill it with signs of the season. Next week we plan to begin categorizing these items for the many projects and explorations ahead.