Sunday, April 19, 2015

Learning from Harmony's ACT

I love having "ah ha!" moments for myself. Although sometimes it is embarrassing...why does it take me so long to put my finger on something obvious? Or put words to something that crystalizes it in a very real way? I would guess that there are just too many things going on in life to catch it all all the time. But when I do have an "ah ha!" moment I like to share it here. And I just had one this past week.

My daughter has been going to an art class once a week for more than six months now. Every week she brings home a stack of creations - everything from sculptures to paintings. She is always so proud to show off her work to us. Sometimes the creations are from kits like her paper crown with jewels glued on it. In those cases, I'm happy that I wasn't the one who had to shop for the kit, Anna in tow and offering her opinions on what art/craft project would be "interesting." The painting made using cooked spaghetti noodles instead of brushes made me smile. I had heard of this technique and glad Anna finally had had the opportunity to try it out. And the sculpture of air dry clay with marker caps stuck in it....? Well, it was a creative use of recycled things. It provided a novel experience for creating for my daughter and introduced me to a new way of using things that would otherwise be trash. But for the most part, my role of learner was on hiatus in those times surrounding dropping her off and picking her up.

Until finally, inspiration struck. I was at home unpacking groceries form Costco. I unwrapped a Costco-sized wheel of brie (Anna's favorite) and I was in the process of cutting it and freezing it when I thought of what Ms. Harmony would do. Instead of recycling the wooden container that had contained the brie, I stashed it. Later, I pulled it out and offered it to Anna. She chose to paint it. 

Then I flashed to Ms. Harmony unpacking something and handing the bubble wrap to Anna to paint on. Next I remembered the plastic inserts in our rice cracker boxes, which makes a delightful crinkling sound when touched, and knew those would be good for painting, too. The plastic covers of toys, the ring from inside our milk screw top lids, and the black spool that holds our gift ribbon are all valid things on which to paint, glue, and otherwise use for creating. And, most importantly, those are free ways to give our children a novel experience. 

Now my only problem is how to dispose of all these treasures... Managing our "Engineer's Stash" and recycled materials is a constant struggle. But the creating still happens and I am so happy to see my children occupied with new things that I'll suck it up and make the most of what materials are laying around the house and how we repurpose those materials...and I will thank Ms. Harmony for opening my eyes to a whole new world of art.

So tell me - what have you learned from your preschooler's teacher?