Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Journey Begins

Last year, my prekindergarten class went to the Hirshhorn to see the Kuitca exhibit. On a scouting mission before we went, I found the book Katharine Harmon's The Map as Art. The exhibit proved very inspirational for the children, but the book is a treasure beyond compare.

In dramatic play the map shows dangers to avoid.
I have been trying to figure out the Sense of Place unit for years. Inspired initially by a painting by outsider artist, Roy Ferdinand called Popeye and His Skateboard, each year our projects take on different shapes, lines, and inspiration, but I feel like finding The Map as Art will change things for us.

Or maybe that spinning carousel of children's ideas is the thing that changes and we are simply able to find different gold rings to catch hold of as we spin 'round.

This afternoon class starts with dramatic play sessions each year. Our usual sessions plus an extra while we wait for the music and movement teachers' contracts to begin. The children built a boat the first day and pulled out the maps right away. So instead of exploring paintings of their bedrooms or some other idea like I usually do, we went straight for painting maps on maps, but this time we used different kinds of paint as well as map sections and created visual layers. This is the journey of a map on map painting.
Details of watercolor map sections.

To begin, I brought out a large map during our circle meeting and we worked on pulling out details from it. Airports, roads large and small, rivers and lakes, all were traced with fingers. We talked about the symbols and about the colors used. I showed them the small sections of map I had cut out of the larger ones (a former member of the school donated a case of Washington Metropolitan maps). Then later when we were in project center, we passed out the maps I had cut and the kids got right down to painting. They embraced painting 3 sections and some painted four, but no one painted the million they promised to paint during circle time! 

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