A Combine, a Helicopter, and the Blooming of Skills

clay combine and pastel combine

it's a John Deer

Chinook helicopter

flying the Chinook

Recently, I have been noticing how a desire to represent something can lead the development of skills. Or, maybe the burgeoning development of fine motor skills leads children to find something they passionately want to represent. 

I'm not sure which it is, but I have seen Owen, MacGuire and Yates, children who never cared much for the studio, itching to get here to draw or make Starwars  stuff, farm equipment, maps or rockets. Sometimes it's like a switch turns on for children, and suddenly they are in the 'making' zone. When this happens, the sophistication of the representations increase exponentially in a short time.

When I was a kid my Mom was known as an amazing teacher, whose specialty was teaching "bad boys" to read. She could reach children who had written off school in favor of football, motorcycles, hunting, or street life.  It is from her that I learned that listening is the most important thing in helping children to learn and to love learning. She could listen to her students, connect to them, and find the key to unlock their interest -and then she brought them books, articles, and information, and helped them decode the text. Soon, the student would be making their way through school, having learned to read comic books, car magazines, or stories about hunting dogs. 
I see this at work in the studio all the time, especially among boys. If they can bring their interests to school with them, they seem happier, more creative, and willing to bear the feeling of disequilibrium it takes to learn new media and techniques. 


  1. I am continually glad that my children know you. Thanks for listening.

  2. " listening is the most important thing in helping children to learn and to love learning"

    Wiser words were never spoken. Or blogged. I love that you're in my children's lives, and mine.

  3. Anna, you've unlocked Yates in a powerful way these last few weeks. We are seeing so much more creativity, and more importantly, confidence in him. His whole approach to school has changed. I really want to thank you.

  4. Word up on what Susan said. Anna, you rock.

  5. Thanks everyone. This is better than teacher appreciation day!

  6. Love the clay combine! Yates made a clay Thomas the Tank engine at my house that was really cool. Unfortunately Luke destroyed it. Keep the combine locked up when Luke is on the loose.

  7. Wonderful post Anna...and wonderful words of inspiration and advice, also.

  8. So true. How lucky to be raised by such a wonderful mom, inspiring. I am sure she just beams when she reads your posts.
    I think your words of wisdom is true for people of all ages.


Post a Comment

Please do comment!

Popular posts from this blog

The difference between centers and provocations

Magical Thinking and Alternative Facts

Umbrella Project 2017