Second Grade: Knotty Problems and Creativity

A small group of second graders is working in the studio to show the way sound interacts in a forest ecosystem. At our pedagogical meeting I was showing how the children had a problem that might become important in their work. The painting they'd made for the background of their assemblage showed trees and roots, but when set up, the clay trees would sit below the level of the painted roots. This would make their plan to show roots "holding hands under the ground" difficult. It would require some slowing down and negotiation for the group to find a solution. Soon after, this conversation below occurred-
there will be one canvas for the back
and another for the ground the trees sit on

the painting has trees sitting high on the canvas

Anna- I'm wondering if you're remembering the job?Remember what's going on with this? 

Caroline- Charlie still has to agree to this but she's not here today.
Anna- Well, I think you've already agreed to the plan, I think I'm just trying to remind us all..
Cal- The thing was.. 
Penelope- The thing was, to put a piece of wood up here, to have this table up here like this.
Scarlett- To show that the roots would be down here. And also if the ground was right here, that would just mean those trees (would be too low) and that wouldn't make much sense.

Caroline-  Because we've been talking about the roots below, connecting and that stuff.

Cal-(looking at a piece of wood they'd cut earlier) I was thinking, 'why would that (wood) have holes?'
Penelope-  Oh! Do you guys understand why that has holes? In real life, under the ground, roots are 3-D. So we’re trying to put these wires through the holes, and put paper around them and draw them as roots. And then we have these (braces) to make it stable.
Caroline- Penelope, don't forget about the stabilizers we made!
P.- I'm worried we won't be able to see the roots with all this stuff in front of it.
Cal -Why do we need the wires though?
Penelope- To make it 3-d and more realistic!
Cal- But the wires are silver! They're silver!
P.- Yeah, Charlie had a plan to put paper around it and then color them as roots, and make them all crooked and stuff, as roots.
Cal- But I thought this was roots? (points to the painting)
Penelope- yeah, but in real life, roots are 3-d.
Cal -The roots have to go under the trees!
P.- Yeah! That's why we're doing my idea that I just said. To make it work.
Cal- What are the Xs?
Scarlett- the Xs are there to show where we need the holes.
Caroline- Hey! We could use pipe cleaners!

Cal- Yeah! Brown pipe cleaners!

Here is the whole assemblage, trees, roots and all-