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Showing posts from September, 2011

Young Children Investigate Materials

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For the youngest children at school, maybe more than for anyone else, the studio is a laboratory for experimenting with materials. Whether it's "blueing a paper" or discovering that wire can be bent to look like a fish, these two and three year old children  want to know the "demand characteristics" of different media. Howard Gardner wrote about symbol systems and media in his book Art, Mind and Brain: A Cognitive Approach to Creativity : "The fact is that symbol systems and media differ radically from one another in the nature of their elements, in the ways in which such elements are combined, in the kinds of reference of which they are capable, and in the psychological and neurological mechanisms that they invoke and evoke". These characteristics of media can also be called their "affordances". 
Discussing the drawings of two 31/2 year old children, Gardner writes:  "The charm of children's drawings sometimes obscures the achievement…

Early School Days in the Studio

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Making the "giant ball thing"

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Evening gatherings at school are a time where children of all ages can play together. At the Sabot Parent Association Ice Cream Social this week, Pippin, Nancy, Marty and I provided a tinkering challenge; 80 feet of gutter, some wire, logs from a hurricane damaged tree and a grocery bag full of tennis balls. Everyone from brand new students to long time veterans, from the youngest preschoolers, kindergartners and other elementary school aged students, to Middle Schoolers and Parents worked together build a "giant ball thing" against one garden wall.

Why tinkering?

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For this school year, Sabot at Stony Point school is looking at mechanics and engineering, (tinkering) as a school-wide investigation, what we call an umbrella project. There are several reasons why we chose this topic, but my favorite is that it will be an opportunity for our tinkerers to lead, and to teach us what they know and how they learn.

It's easy to find the tinkerers. Just put something new in the room and they will notice it and try to figure it out. They may not want to stop trying to figure it out to go back to their other projects, and now, they won't have to!