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Forming Ideas – 5x5x5=creativity at St Saviours Infants

by James on March 2nd, 2011

I was back with Tracy (Reception Class Teacher) and the children of St Saviours Infant School in Bath yesterday after a two week break.

We picked up on the children’s interest in creating and exlporing enclosed/defined spaces from the last couple of weeks, and kicked the afternoon session off by sharing images of different houses and shelters made by people and animals.

I chose sculptures and ‘real’ houses, made from mud, stone, sticks and various recycled materials – again we want to provide the children with further inspiration rather than lead them in a specific direction.

We then all went outside and found/chose materials to combine with clay to create our own shelters or houses from – as designs for future constructions, and a way to enable the children to unleash and further develop their ideas, through interaction with open-ended materials.

It was a great session, every child was really engaged with their exploration of the materials and their evolving ideas. One boy made a house boat with a stone wall and tall masts/sails, whilst another cut a door with a cat-flap from a slab of clay.

Not everyone made something that they named as a shelter or house, or even named at all and that’s fine – its a starting point, a provocation, to use a favourite 5x5x5 term. What mattered was that each child was using the materials in a way that was relevant and interesting to them, and felt able to do so.

When we get to this kind of stage in a project and patterns of behaviour or learning styles emerge, links between the ways that individuals investigate different media start to show themselves, and it gets really exciting.

Yesterday for instance, one girl used pieces of foil, leaves and sweet wrappers collected from the playground to apply to the surface of the clay, in a very similar approach to her colouring and mark-making on paper in Paul’s Garden in previous sessions – placing areas of texture and colour together almost like a puzzle.

It might not sound like much, but it feels as if we are giving them an opportunity to apply their own ways of exploring and learning to the opportunities on offer, and in return we are gaining a chance to get to know them better. We want to enable them to form their own ideas and understanding of the world, as they select and form the materials with their minds and bodies.

At this stage, we’re not fully decided on what to do in next week’s session. Tracy is going to give the children more chance to reflect on this session during the week through sharing our photographs with them. We want to give the children a chance to start to plan these sessions for themselves.

Of course it takes time for a new group to form and for relationships to be built, for me to get to know them and vice versa, and for the children to feel comfortable to share their ideas and opinions openly, and trust that we’ll take them seriously. Luckily at St Saviours the ethos is very much around valuing individuality and catering for the needs of the whole child, so in that sense they’ve got a bit of a head start…

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