OUR RICHMOND Umbrella Project

OUR RICHMOND is the Umbrella project this year at Sabot school. Children, Teachers and Families from each classroom will explore their relationship with the city of Richmond. From the start of this school year teachers have been offering provocations and children have been talking about their places and drawing maps.
Are you familiar with the term provocation, which comes from the schools of Reggio Emilia? Provocations are experiences designed to inspire children’s thinking. They can be questions, encounters with materials, people or places. Provocations are thoughtfully and carefully arranged by teachers who then observe the children as they encounter the idea, object, place, or event.
Yesterday was the biggest provocation so far, as all of the Kindergarten through 8th grade children, Teachers and lots of Parents took trips to various cites in the city. You can see many pictures here facebook.com/SabotatStonyPoint

I went with the second grade to walk the Pipeline Trail atlasobscura.com/james-river-park-pipeline-walkway It was fun to walk along the pipe to the little beach, and then down the trail to Brown's Island and Belle Isle. Along the way we met a stand-up paddle boarder going down the rapids, met a friendly woman who was camped beside the river with her friends, talked to a fisherman and saw the third grade across the river at the floodwall. From Belle Isle we could see the Sabot middle schoolers on their bikes up at hollywood-cemetery. The children found charcoal and drew on rocks and themselves, saw cairns made of bricks and rocks and made their own, and sketched and sketched.
the fisherman
photo by Jesse
Nora found a toad

 This year's project is supported by a grant from Partners in the Arts. The grant will provide funding to bring in visiting artists, who will support the staff in developing skills in photography, graphic design and digital stories. 

How do children come to understand citizenship and community?  How does the City perceive its youngest citizens? Children are often taken into account in conversations about planning community spaces and services, but are rarely are their voices a part of the dialog. Our Richmond is a long-term documentary research and design project in which children use photography, writing and graphic design to learn about and become advocates for their  community. Children will document experiences and observations in the city and then represent their impressions through creative writing, photography and graphic design.  We believe that, in collaboration with working artists, children can re-envision Richmond and inspire dialogue and social change.
What does the city know about the way children want to live in it?


Asking Young Children to Plan

Looking at a backhoe and describing the parts a digger should have
I've written before about how we use plans here at Sabot. Most often a plan is a drawing of something you want to make. Sometimes if drawing is hard or very unappealing, children may describe their plan with words or motion, or dictate it and I will draw it.

I ask children to follow three steps:
Think of an idea
Make a plan
Then gather materials

Research- choosing the kind of train to make
This works very well here. For one thing, it causes a little pause- sometimes just long enough for someone to formulate an image in their mind. This image will serve them well when it comes time to make the thing.
Even if the mental image has to be revised A LOT, having one will make the experience much easier.

Also, planning helps children choose materials very deliberately. We all should have grown up with a sense of stewardship for the Earth, but it seems especially important for children nowadays.

As for messing about, it still happens. A lot of the time the serious messing about with materials happens within the classrooms, so that by the time a child comes to the studio, they already have a purpose. Maybe they want to make a train or a fox costume, or maybe they want to figure out, once and for all, how the buckets on a backhoe operate. Follow my three simple steps, and                     those hydraulics will be working in NO TIME!

The plan and the train


What is on your map? Kindergarten

"My street, Playground, McDonalds, Sabot, Gas Station, Costco" 
"My family- we like to go to Cookout, so I put it on my map"

"The Chicken Coop is on my map. That's the egg box."

"Me and my Daddy with (Minecraft axes)"

working on maps in the studio
"We have chickens, too"

"My bed is downstairs, Caleb's bed is upstairs."