Three Different Ways to Build Connections. We are beginning our conversation regarding Sense of Place. We are indeed focusing on maps and geography in class. Sense of Place rolls out over the course of two months with a variety of experiences. The primary goal of the unit is to learn and, in turn, express through art, movement, and dramatic play the world the children find themselves in -- and more specifically to gain context about the world around them.
We are imagining how line and shape in the landscape around us is translated through art. It is about symbol -- both the literal and the figurative. Our school is located in an urban neighborhood and the children have walked through this to find the shape and line in the actual landscape; they have built large scale 3-dimensional maps of our neighborhood using wooden unit blocks (key: we have an oriental carpet and the children embrace that as a component of the map and as an art form); and the children have created two (so far) smaller map collages using a variety of materials.
We use maps regularly to guide our dramatic play. These are used to inform the children not just about destination or as check-ins of journey progress, but also for weather reports and danger alerts!
One thing we keep focusing on is the perception, experience, and representation of the "bird's eye view" because this is what will help imagine the final project of the unit.
As a teacher, I use the books by Katharine Harmon as inspiration ("The Map as Art" and "You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination"). The unit itself was inspired by a single work by the outsider artist, Roy Ferdinand, "Popeye and His Skateboard." Since then, the culminating project for the unit has evolved and last year, the children created a layered work beginning with the earth's core and working out to something that can be described as a satellite image of landscapes at night.
Here are a handful of exchanges in this ongoing conversation.
A Neighborhood Walk.
|Looking down for symbols and signs. We find a blue line which signals the water line.|
|Where does the water go? We discover that the line directs|
you to the water meter and then moves into/under each house.
|A sign that says open, but the children discover the shop is actually |
closed by peering through the window.
A Group Build-a-thon.
|Building up for the school building.|
|The sidewalk and a tunnel bridge.|
|The City Architects must reach consensus.|
And Through Combined Movement.
|Making shapes with arms and legs while imagining how to|
position these on the vertical or horizontal
|A small circle above and a large, cooperative circle below.|
How will all these activities and experiences help build the conversation expressed through visual art? Stay tuned to find out.