Wednesday, March 1, 2017

sol17-1 What about freedom?

I am participating in the
Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC).
All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day of March 2017.
A big thank you to Two Writing Teachers for providing this unique opportunity
for teacher-writers to share and reflect.

This is my sixth year of participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge. I am excited to be back! Writing each and every day is energizing. Each year, I am amazed by how much more present and observant I become in my teaching during this month of March, as I try to unearth writing topics. Truly, I notice more. Here's to reconnecting with many writers and discovering new voices, as well. Welcome, new slicers! Welcome, one and all! Let's write!

Tomorrow is our second trimester's "Learning Showcase," an evening event where families come to see what we have been exploring and discovering. Much of today was spent encouraging and guiding children to tie up loose ends on their projects. I think I am most excited about the children's wire sculptures. Let me share a few. (You'll notice that each child wrote their own nametag for the piece- I love seeing the strides each preschooler has made in printing.)

I am excited about how unique each piece has become. It has been a rich observation experience for me, gaining so much insight about each child. For example,

  • some children linger and work, adding details, adjusting, fine-tuning, seeming without end,
  • others wonder only about the beads, collecting those of a certain color or size, adding 'bling' to their sculpture
  • several come to the table simply to converse with their peers, fingering materials, not really adding or modifying,
  • a few enjoy adding wires and then unwinding them, taking them apart, and putting it back together,
  • one little girl worked hard to make every wire strand the same length,
  • others worked on wrapping, wrapping, wrapping, making the wire coils tight, and
  • some worked large - adding height and girth, trying to make it 'the biggest one'.

Way back when we were planning this art exploration, our Phillips Collection art advisor gave us an umbrella theme of "freedom."  Certainly, wire - with its free-form possibilities - allowed for so many fun and creative way to express "freedom" but this seemed too abstract a concept for my youngsters. What is freedom? I asked the preschoolers as they worked, to no clear avail. What does it mean to move freely? I continued. During several whole groups, we moved our bodies in fun, free ways.

Then, I simply listened to the children as they worked. What were they saying? What were they wondering? What were they discovering? Here's a poem I wrote based on their musings as they worked with wire:

Our Freedom Sculptures
(A collaborative poem by the Big Cats)

This is my freedom thing:
a lot of beads in a long line,
moving like a big monster,
a freedom bunny.
Moving like a train
like flowers,
two sparklies around a flower.
Moving like a truck.

Beads can move.
All the beads,
orange and black,
pink beads on pink lines,
moving side to side,
twirling around on the wire,
I want the same.

When you are free,
it’s a little bit kind of loose.
It turns,
it can bend,
like a circle,
stopped in air,
going back and forth
tall and free,
it goes to the end.
This is my freedom thing.

After school, my Teaching Resident and I made a strong effort at cleaning and culling clutter, so that the classroom will make a beautiful first impression tomorrow evening. There is still plenty to do before the event tomorrow night! 


  1. What a creative way for the students to express themselves!

  2. They are unique, and I am envious you got to watch this marvelous process. I love each one, Maureen. And I loved hearing how you aided the understanding of the concept of 'freedom". Plus this, "it’s a little bit kind of loose." Nothing better than that! Thanks!

  3. Love the theme, the sculptures, and your poem. The freedom to create and express ourselves cannot be undervalued. Way to promote self-expression and American values!

  4. My favorite art supply from my elementary days, colorful, bending, shapable telephone wire! We made rings, necklaces, bracelets, and collars for the dog! Oh, how I loved designing with wire!

  5. Your young artists are so creative and I loved their expressions of freedom. Makes me want to pick up wire and start creating my own freedom sculpture!