I often use small wood pieces in my art class because they present wonderful opportunities for children to learn about balance, gravity, building, and sculpture. The wood pieces are open ended and force children to use the materials creatively. Each time I use wood pieces in my art class it is always a new and unique experience for teacher and students. Mixed into the wood pieces were familiar wooden objects such as corks, popsicle sticks, spools and wooden spoons used for ice cream cups. These objects were also repurposed by the children in new ways. I observed one child pile small, wooden spools in random positions on her cardboard base. Eventually the pile was not just a pile anymore, but a sculpture that was interesting to look at from all angles. It had personality, energy and shape. Other pieces were more straightforward: a row of flowers; a horse; a football; and a person. These pieces were innovative in their own ways too. The children managed to transform odd wooden pieces into familiar objects. Throughout the initial stages of the creative process the children were taking risks and seemed really comfortable with their choices.I also noticed that during this particular class the art studio was buzzing with chatter. A strong sense of community has been established and the children have quickly formed friendships. I like listening to the children talk as they work. The topics range from books to ice skating to playing poker with family members and using potato chips for money. Being observant and a good listener helps me understand my students better, which in turn helps me be a better teacher.
I wrote down a few quotes from the children about their work:
"I am making a junkyard, so the possibilities are endless."
"I don't know what I am making."
"I am making a horse!"