We're continuing our celebration of Week of the Young Child hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Each day has a theme and Thursday is Artsy Thursday. Artsy Thursday asks you to think, problem-solve, and create.
Artsy Thursday is an opportunity to show off children’s creativity. We loved the messy, hands-on art-making we saw splashed across social media last year, and this year should be more of the same joyful, bright activities. To complement this, we’re highlighting beautiful pieces of visual art that promote open-ended activities, full of brainstorming and inference that can deepen children’s creativity and learning.
This art comes in the form of two wonderful, wordless, picture books: Journey, by Aaron Becker and Chalk, by Bill Thompson. It’s amazing how removing the words focuses you on the art and encourages you to tell your own story. Below I’ll break down the story and an artsy activity that could go with it.
Written and illustrated by Aaron Becker, Journey (see preview here) is the beautiful story of a lonely girl who uses a red crayon to draw her way into magical adventures that eventually lead her to a friend. The incredible drawings prompt so many thoughts and questions, you barely have to plan ahead. But with a little planning, there are so many ways to bring in higher-order thinking skills (think Concept Development, Quality of Feedback, and Language Modeling).
After the story, it’s time to get artsy! Make a plan - where would you go if you could draw your own imaginary dream? Using paint, markers, crayons, or really anything, have children plan and then create their dream scene. Older children can try to predict what the next scene in the book may be, then draw and write about that.
Chalk is the story of three children who find a bag of chalk at the playground on a rainy day and soon realize their drawings have come to life! Because this picture book has no words, it’s perfect for bringing in Concept Development and Language Modeling. Students can predict, compare, discuss, and summarize the story with no chance of being wrong!
And then it’s time for students to create! First, make a plan. What would you draw with magical chalk? Then head outside or use construction paper or chalkboards to allow children to create their own drawing and imagine it coming to life. With older kids, you could incorporate a writing component as well.
Don’t have either picture book? Eric Carle's books are great for inspiring collage art. Put out cut-out shapes, ripped-up construction paper, old wrapping paper, and glue and let students make their own creations.
Remember, the goal is process over product, so just get creating!
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There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.
As an educator, you’re busy. Your time is being split by competing priorities, from managing students’ needs, meeting your program’s goals, and communicating with parents. While you’re juggling your work, it can be difficult to keep learning about important ways to improve your daily teaching practice. Teachstone is here to help!