Since January my 3 1/2- 5 year olds have been learning about the human form.
Our learning began when we set up a new Doctors office at school to expand upon their play. With the new doctors office came conversations about our bodies, and many conversations about the skeletal structure. This conversation developed from the new x-ray films we have at school. The children learned that the body has 206 bones, and we would spend time in circle learning how the body moves, and what bones might be moving in the body as they danced, posed, bent, and did yoga. We would place our hands on our spines as we bent over, move our hands and fingers around touching and imagining what our bones look like, and taking time to appreciate how our body is held together.
After our discussions in circle time, the children then spent some time drawing and observing our drawing mannequin.
Next the children had the opportunity to model for their friends. I am always so impressed with the patience, maturity, and the drawings created when we do this exercise. It represents our philosophy at Art and Soul on many levels. One, that children are incredibly capable and can enjoy and participate in activities such as observational drawing and figure studies at a very early age. Two, that although their drawings are at a preschool level, they represent what and how they see the world and their friends in a clear language that is beyond the written language. Three, young children can hold their attention span and be present in their learning for long periods of time when they are engaged and are participants in the learning process.
The children enjoyed the figure studies so much and continued being interested in the skeletal structure that I thought a more tactile, three-denominational exploration would be fun for the children. Working with wire the children made simple figurines. As one student said "Oh, I get it, this is the skeleton." After they created their wire form they added aluminum foil by wrapping small pieces of foil around the wire. This creates a movable form, but the foil also represented the skin on a body.
The figures they made were wonderful, and the children still had more interest, so after they made the foil figures, the idea of making clothes was presented. The children liked this idea, so I pulled out the wiki sticks, and the children began to wrap the wiki sticks around their forms making clothes.
On another day we read a book called I Am Yoga, by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. This book is a very sweet story of moving away from a hectic day and finding peace by imagining where you would want to go, or what you would want to be. It is beautifully illustrated showing the child's vision through yoga poses. With this in mind, and still working with the body, I asked the children to think about what they would like to be doing or where they would like to be? We then went back to our figures we made and started to create shadow boxes for their figures that related to their idea of where they would like to be or what they would like to do.
Some children came up with their ideas right away, while other looked at a mix of collage materials in the art room ranging from magazines and old calendar pictures, to wands, balls, gems, even medals, and were inspired with an idea from what they found.
Discussing ideas with each other. Below is the first phase of some of their artwork.
Some children used backgrounds they painted and others used large background from an old calendar, and some combined the two. I love the different places they took their artwork.
They spent a lot of time thinking about where they would put items, and it was wonderful to see the conversations taking place between the children. When it was time to hot glue, they would be very specific telling me where they wanted to glue items down and where I should apply glue. I loved the details and the pride they had in their work.
A Swimming Race: “If he wins he gets the medal, if he doesn’t he won’t, But…he is going to win.” R.H, 4 Years Old
The Soccer Player: “He is trying to shoot the ball into the goal.” T.M 5 Years Old
Star: “The person is having a rest because he danced too much and the ducky is trying to get out the window.” P.A.B. 3 years old
Elsa, who Loves to Freeze Everything I.P 4 Years Old
Bella Loves to Dance: “When Bella has a dance everyone feels her love. When you watch her you make a wish.” B.R. 5 Years Old
The Scuba Diver, J.R. 4 Years Old
I Love Pine Cones and I Love Rocks: “J. D. G. taking a walk.” J.G. 4 Years Old
Riding a Motorcycle, E.B. 4 Years Old
Dancing on the Ice by the Water, V.C. 4 Years Old
Buzzy-Lee the Dancer B.N. 4 Years Old
A Dragon Breathing Fire: “The Forest is on fire. It is the time of dragon’s hunt and it is raining.” L.P. 5 Years Old
Princess Ariel Playing with Butterflies E.D. 3 Years Old
The Hula Hooper: “This is a playground, and a sun, and a star, and a girl with long hair hula hooping.” M.G. 3 Years Old
Sophia Geiger the Princess, M.G. 3 Years old
"Rosa Bella Rosa Anna Dancing" F.M. 4 Years Old
The summation of this project was its display at the Greene County Council on the Arts, "Outside the Lines" art show; our 5th year in the show!
Alongside the figures are the beautiful dinosaurs created by the 2 1/2 -3 1/2 year old group.