“That very night in Max’s room a forest grew and grew…..”
Yesterday in class we read the classic “Where the Wild Things Are”. We roared our terrible roars, gnashed our terrible teeth, rolled our terrible eyes and showed our terrible claws. Then I gave the kids some plasticine and invited them to make a bed for their bedroom. We filled little pots with earth and then planted some moss, grass and various other plants and weeds from my garden.
Note: I had to get these things in the rain and then carry them all to class so the moss was a little muddy. It would probably be best transported in a tray, not heaped in a bag. Also, if using plasticine with small kids you can soak it in warm water to soften it up for them.
For our last day of At the End of the Rainbow we had a little encounter with The Very Hungry Caterpillar. What a well-loved little chap he is. A simple yet captivating book. After reading, we got down to business with the plasticine and everybody had a go at making caterpillars.
And they were very hungry, of course, so there followed a happy 20 minute of making food stuffs.
The children consulted the book for some ideas. I realized then that this was ideal – because we were working in a different medium and in 3D instead of flat like the illustrations, the book was truly an *inspiration*. Choosing to make an object in the book still required negotiation and creativity on the kids part. I admit I sometimes get a bit nervous about using a book as a resource. If it isn’t done properly and introduced sensitively, it can be limiting. The last thing I want is for the children to feel confined to “copying”. But if it’s done right it can be a lovely way of expanding the creative horizons. Though not the only option, going from 2D to 3D helps make sure it’s “done right”. (Incidentally, same principle at work with the Chameleons, though I didn’t think of it that way at the time)
As the children were working, they were obliged to ask me for more plasticine of one colour or another, as I had it all in a big bowl of warm water to soften. It hardens up pretty quickly as it cools and becomes tricky for them to manipulate. I was busy handing out plasticine but I did notice that it made the kids think more about what colour they wanted to use. Instead of haphazard smooshing together of any colour available, there was a lot more deliberate colour choices. I’m not saying the colour choices were always logical (nor should they be) but it is possible to see the difference between random colour use and conscious decision to use a certain colour. An unexpected outcome of this way of working.
We also made butterfly drawings with water colours but I didn’t get any photos! It was our last day of class and I was busy putting up artwork for “the show”. The children worked quite happily on their own, and I even heard them explaining to each other “You can make your butterfly any way you want, because it’s your butterfly.” Next time, to make sure it’s “expanding” and not “limiting”, I’ll have a selection of inspirations (perhaps some photos) for the butterfly part.