Monday, May 26, 2014

Review: I See. I Wonder. I Create. An Art Activity Book

There was a wonderful, memorable time in one of my Montessori classes when my 5- and 6-year-olds were a lot into making, writing, and illustrating their own stories. I think it started when we had little stacks of writing and drawing paper, the size of 1/4 letter paper, on the shelf; encouraging them to write a word and then draw what the word says. Pretty soon we did it for sentences (with writing and drawing paper the size of 1/2 letter paper), and then one sentence became several, until finally, a story--one half-sheet became several, until finally, a storybook.

To encourage them further, I read Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk at circle, and pretty soon too, we had our 5- and 6-year olds taking turns reading their own stories to the younger children at circle and leaving their handmade storybooks on our bookshelf for everyone to read. We had stories about what a little girl would do when she gets a pet puppy, about what would happen if you take a pig to the museum (I wish I could find my scanned copy of this) in Laura Numeroff style, and many more.

Sometimes, they'd read a published book and replicate its pages.

Here's a page from Ducks Don't Get Wet by Augusta Goldin made by Anika


There was a particular 6-year-old boy though, who didn't particularly like making his own storybook. I was particularly curious why this was because he's very articulate and he always liked telling me stories. After a few conversations with him, I quickly found that he didn't like making the storybooks because, he said, he didn't know how to draw. When I asked how he knew that, he mentioned a previous teacher teaching him how to draw different objects using different shapes (e.g. a triangle, and a rectangle, and a couple of squares for a house--you get the picture) and he said he wasn't very good at copying his teacher's sample drawings.

So I invited him to try to make his own house in his mind, and maybe he can try to draw that; that way, nobody else would know what that house was supposed to look like because nobody else has seen the house in his imagination. And that's what art is really, expressing oneself. And if something gets too challenging to draw on paper, then he can just make something that represents it (abstract art?). That same day, he made his own storybook, about a snake on a racetrack!

This is the story, the time, the kind of magic I was reminded of when I saw Anastasia Rehbein's I See. I Wonder. I Create.


I like this art activity eBook because, just as it was with our 6-year-old boy, it invites the children to "close your eyes and imagine" some things that they would have seen in nature, like maybe "the most beautiful pattern on a butterfly's wings"; and then to draw it. Each page is open to many opportunities as the grayscale illustrations on them leave so much room for the child's own imagination and creativity.

It also provides a good opportunity to introduce and talk about some elements in nature that you may not have where you are--maybe 4 seasons, snow. And other things, too, like fossils, and the constellations.

The first time I browsed through the book, I told Anastasia, I was taken somewhere else--where there is "a dance of leaves" and where "you could fly as high as an eagle". This book really takes you somewhere else and I encourage you to take it along with you, too, as you go on trips and nature walks, or even as you go to your favorite sunny/cozy spot in your house where you and your child can see, wonder, and create. Enjoy imagining (and enjoy your child's imagination)!



post signature

8 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for your kind words!!! I am so glad you found this book inspirational!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Anastasia! This book is truly an experience. :-)

      Delete
  2. Can't wait til my little Montessori boy starts sharing stories with me! Will definitely check out the book too!(:

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Enjoy, Kaity! Tell me more about his Montessori experience! :)

      Delete
  3. Sounds like something that my son would truly enjoy! We just bought him a new drawing book (for the nth time!) because he likes to draw. It is very important to allow your kids to use their imagination. This is how great things come to life. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hear, hear! I agree, Jhanis! :) That's why I really liked how the children were able to use their imagination making their own stories. They were fascinating!

      Delete
  4. All teachers should be like you. It is hard to notice nuances in a classroom and go out of your way to inspire differently!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much! It's great that a Montessori classroom, set-up, and philosophy really allows, actually require, observation for opportunities like that.

    ReplyDelete