Returning to Copenhagen I was ready to be at Broparken kindergarten and construction playground after our study tour. It was finally our turn to implement lessons and activities for the children! From a varied list of activities our class came up with I choose to participate in an art-making activity. I believe art is essential for children’s creative development but also to provide valuable experience in teaching.
There were six of us in the “ART” group and we came up with three thematic activities for the children. The first day it was based on the children exploring their “identity” within the Danish culture. The third day asked children “What makes you grow?”. They painted flower pots based on this question then planted seeds in each one.
The second day was my peer and I’s lesson which focused on two important elements: Nature and the World. Learning that nature is important in Nordic childcare and education it made sense to incorporate it in our lesson. But how does the world fit in? To make art-making meaningful we explained that they live in a world surrounded by nature and we can use it.
There was also an emphasis on repurposing nature because in art anything can have a new meaning if creativity and opportunities come within an activity to do so. As our project began we explain the idea of re-purposing nature to create “mobiles” or hanging sculptures. Children were placed in groups and challenged to find 5 objects within their natural surroundings to use and create their mobiles. Paint, string, wire, and paint brushes were the only materials they could use. Once the children found their objects it was amazing what happened.
As a team we made sure to allow as much freedom in the art-making activity as possible. We wanted to make it about what the students can do and create together. Letting go of the authoritative power was difficult for me but my role was to guide the process. Children painted rocks, added color to flowers, and used feathers.
Others bundled grass, twisted branches, and colored leaves. As I watched, it filled my heart with appreciation of how well children repurposed nature and brought to life even the most minute thing. It excited me to realize that when it was time to assemble the mobiles most where still working…we were running out if time! In Broparken or in a classroom collaboration is important for children to learn and develop. Our project also relied on collaboration for success.
Together the children and my classmates worked on assembling the mobiles. There was dialogue about how the base (holding the objects) should be placed. Giving consideration for each object from balance to aesthetics caused constant movement. Finally, the location from where each mobile would hang was negotiated amongst each other. A brief discussion time followed where each group presented their final product. I asked each a member from each group, “What object they picked?” and “How did they change it?”.
I felt it necessary for us all to clap and acknowledge each of their mobiles individually. After completing the lesson Heidi provided advice that I believe will follow me in my future career as an art educator. She explained that our mobiles allowed the children to succeed. What this means is that giving children freedom when creating art provides endless opportunities to succeed or feel accomplished in their efforts. However, art educators often influence the art-making process with too much direction that can cause a child to feel like a failure when the expectations are not met.
Having a balance while teaching can be seen as the educator guiding the students while the students learn through problem solving and being influencers of their own work. I struggle with art educators thinking children are not capable of creating meaningful work or fail to provide a challenge. Through this experience I can return to my art student teaching experience confident that with guidance students can be directed to create art that they can feel accomplished with. There is so much room for improvement on how I can become a better art educator and just like the children I have to be free to make mistakes and learn from them.