Today we made sculptures in the 2s classroom, starting with a cardboard base and adding all manner of recyclables of the children's own choosing. There were no time limits, no explicit rules, only free-form exploration and creativity, using the simple tools of tape and scissors. I was letting the environment set the limits - one bin of recyclables in easy reach, an open table with a place for everyone to work.
The children worked at their own pace and in their own way - and Ms. Karen and I stayed right there near them, working with children who needed extra help cutting tape or fastening one object to another.
Quinn had virtually two different projects - for much of the morning, he had a minimalist "one cork" sculpture. But then he saw the paint. "Oh, I want purple paint!," he declared...and immediately he began to modify the sculpture, adding three small boxes, painting each one thoroughly and enthusiastically. So thoroughly, in fact, the boxes lost all dimension and wilted into a flat purple mass. "I like purple, I like this, I am done!," he declared.
Several children knew from the outset what they wanted to build - and each idea was unique. Greyson, a rocket; Toby, "to see through" (I think a telescope?); Eva, a computer.
Henry started off thinking about James, the red engine from Thomas the Tank Engine. But, he loved all the paint colors and decided to add new parts to the structure and then more paint.
"Look at this - they match!" said Toby, noting a tape and scissors that were the same bright yellow. He decided these two objects belonged together and worked diligently with these for quite some time.
The children worked alongside one another and chatted, comfortably. "Wow, I like yours!," said Caitlyn, "It is so pretty!"
"Yes, it's really a computer!" said Eva.
Caitlyn could not get enough of the tape - and created a wild, spontaneous, free-form tape sculpture (Calder, anyone?).
We put all the sculptures in a safe place to dry. We will return to them next Monday. I am very, very curious what these 2 year olds will make of these - a full week away. Will the sculptures still have the same meaning? Next week, we will explore some all new "extras" to fancy it up and add special details - I'm thinking wire, ribbon, yarn, pipecleaners, beads. We'll see!
Our morning together flew by. The children were so happy and easy-going. This is the gift of open-ended exploration - no conflict, just curiosity and engagement. A delight for one and all.