Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What about wire?

This is a Tuesday
Slice of Life.
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day. 
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

The Big Cats are creating wire sculptures for our Phillips art project.
First, we need to investigate the wire -
How does it feel? 
What can it do? 
How does it bend and move?
We looked at a video of one of Alexander Calder's moving mobiles.
Could we create sculptures that move?
Yes, let's try this!

I have set the wire supplies up as an exploratory center, so that the children will learn more about how the materials work before they create their wire sculptures.

We have three different gauges of wire, and all three types are flexible enough for the preschoolers to manipulate. They quickly figured out that the thicker the wire, the more difficult it is to bend. I love that there are three types of wire - multi-colored fine wire, silver medium wire, and bluish thick wire. As they practice making loops, bends, knots, connections, and more, preschoolers are also reinforcing their understanding of small, medium, large.

We spent a couple days simply wrapping objects, to see what shape the wire would be once we pulled the wire out. So many questions arise,
What shape will the wire have if we bend it around a block?
What happens if we attach two wires together?
How can we make the wire curvy?

We are also working with a variety of beads.  The preschools love to finger these, picking out their favorites. They practice how to connect the beads to the wire.
How might we attach the bead so that it wiggles? 
How can we make it roll up and down the wire?
How can we make it stay in a more fixed?

It is a kind of slowing down.
Slow learning.
Investigating requires focus. And fine motor skills.
We become better and better at it.

I hear,
Can I play with the wire?
Look, I make a balloon!
Chains are made out of wire!
You can spin it.
I want to tie it.
I make it move.
This is hanging on it!
It's like candy.

Moving slowly like an artist,
an engineer,
a mathematician,
a scientist. 
It is language,
it is storytelling,
it is everything at once.
It is the best kind of learning.

My husband cut up some scrap wood to make simple wood bases for their sculptures. Tomorrow, the open-ended investigation of wire will end, and we will take our first steps at creating the sculptures themselves. The goal is to make a sculpture that shows 'freedom' -
Maybe it will move, bend, wiggle? 
Maybe it will reach high or flow to the side? 
What does freedom look like?  

The children will have the flexibility to go any direction they want with the remaining supplies. I will encourage the preschoolers to use the heaviest wire at the base and to add lighter wires as they move up. But, preschoolers always amaze me with their ideas and innovations, and I am ready to be surprised and enlightened. I feel certain that their sculptures will have a lot of individuality, that no two will look alike. 

The children are fascinated by the wire. I am, too. 


  1. We actually used wire a lot in the classroom too, as did others. This is wonderful, Maureen. I, like you, am fascinated by it too, and love seeing wire sculptures. Can't wait to see yours!

  2. I love that these kids get to explore and experiment with the wire. What wonderful discoveries they made! I hope you will post some photos of the finished products in a future slice.