Improvisation, Critical Thinking and Creativity
Sculpture with Wire
(all of the following wire sculptures were
created by preschool children)
In my first post I mentioned "Engaging, Helping, Guiding, Recognizing, and Empowering" as ways to take adult learners to a higher level of connecting with children. It goes without saying that we all strive to use all those words as we interact with children directly. In our society there is a lot of linear thinking. We need more abstract thinking to balance our approach to problem solving and living in a world which is full of exciting and often unplanned situations. As we know, children love to play and playing with wire and creating sculptures with wire is one fantastic way of building many skills with our future leaders... our children. The following images are from the preschool classroom of Natalia Canales, a gifted teacher who has found some wonderful ways to empower children. In this case, children are representing their ideas and knowledge through the use of materials, specifically wire.
One approach involving Fathers, Wire and their children
Natalia has over an extended period of time been intentional in her introduction of wire to children and over time has acted as a guide as the children in her classroom have built the skills necessary to lead to the following sculptures. Bravo Nataila!!!
A "Snow Angel" and "Keys" are two examples of children using their knowledge of things they have seen or have become. Creating these images with wire allows for more learning to take place "in depth." The idea of building on prior knowledge is critical to fostering life long learners.
Below is a superb example of allowing and encouraging abstract thought to take place. So many of amazing inventions come have started with abstract thought.
The next example is "A Ghost" and while simple, demonstrates basic body parts and shapes. Perhaps most important is how their classroom teacher took the time to document the sculpture with care and in doing so, honoring both the Art work and the Artist.
The following wire sculpture "A Snake" shows an amazing amount of detail including the different thickness of the end of the tail as compared to the main body of the snake. Living in Arizona, this work of Art was probably inspired by an encounter with a real version of the animal.
Below enjoy "A Rocket" and "A Mouse". A critical aspect to guiding children is introducing the idea of creativity from the perspective that there are many answer, not just one. The idea of creating young children who are inventive in their approach to living and learning is one to remember.
One powerful aspect of wire sculptures is how we allow children to create their own images. When we think of history's greatest leaders they certainly learned the rules of their craft, but once they did, they abandoned those rules. In doing so they gave themselves permission to create new perspectives (Einstein, Galileo, Michelangelo, Beethoven, Picasso, da Vinci, Mahler, etc.). We must give our children the same opportunity to discover their passion and to play in creative and organic ways. The research my F.A.M.E. Foundation has engaged in shows that this approach has the result of improved learning in multiple academic domains. This doesn't mean that all wire sculptures need to be abstract. Take a good look at the next three wire sculptures by preschool children. You will see each has a different balance of abstract versus linear. With so many wire sculptures being made in this particular Head Start, children learn from each other as well as from their teachers.
Abstract and Linear
Some Linear with more Abstract
The kind of learning involved with this type of on-going project relates to fine motor skills and problem solving, but it also relates to other key areas of learning including:
- Improvisation (which is a gateway to creativity)
- Shape Recognition
- Acquisition of Vocabulary
- Improved Comprehension
This type of project can address any academic domain. The most powerful kind of learning for children and adults is the kind that happens in context. Wire sculptures allow children to create that which they are learning. Enjoy this lovely wire sculpture of a balloon!
In my Redleaf Press book, Living Like a Child, I refer to many techniques, but one of the most important things I refer to is for adults to re-connect with what it means to live like a child. This can mean many things, but for me it certainly includes:
- Following your passion
- Living with a sense of daily wonder
- An attitude of "What can I discover today?"
Ask yourself, "Do I live like a child?" "Could I live more like a child?" Below are two precious examples of preschool children discovering a "Happy Heart" and a "Baby Swing". The titles all come from the question posed to children, "What are you making?"
If you enjoy this idea as much as I do, dive in and offer your children the opportunity to create with wire. I'm not going to give you "one way" of playing this game, because that would be misleading. There are a plethora of ways to use this idea. Here are some things to consider:
- Ask children what they want to make.
- Some children will want to just dive in.... let them.
- Show children things in nature they could make.
- Show children things in the classroom they could make.
- Talk about emotions they could represent with wire.
Another critical aspect of this or any game, project or technique is allowing for reflective dialogue to take place at the end and throughout the process. Once the wire sculptures are done, allow time for children to share what they made with each other in a group setting.
Recognize the Artist within them and celebrate! Wire sculptures can be linked to anything the children are learning. Below is a wire sculpture of a "Crown", which could easily be used as a moment to expand a child's vocabulary.
Claiming our daily learning environment is something else I refer to in my book Living Like a Child. Recognizing beauty in all areas of our life is an important concept related to understanding what peace is and that it begins with inner peace. Below is a truly beautiful wire sculpture of a broom. What would be interesting is to ask the young artist:
- "Why did you make a broom?"
- "Have you used a broom?"
- "How do you use a broom?"
- "Does this broom make you think of someone?"
Asking these kinds of questions leads to critical thinking and is an example of teaching "in depth." Going beyond the surface information and digging for more meaning.
ENDEAVOR... ENRICH... EVOLVE...