Dear Families and Friends,
To make a bold beginning is half the work. Forty-five children, fourth graders, accompanied by their kindergarten book buddies, trekked through the woods this morning from the school to the library to begin making art together. It was a first for LEAPS and a leap for the students!
Recognizing that the children we’ve been teaching are now artists themselves, we thought it over. Are nine and ten year olds ready to teach kindergartners the skills that they’d been working so hard to master? We’d find out soon enough. Partners told one another in a whisper which animal they’d chosen. Then they shut their eyes and envisioned their two animals side by side.
Yesterday several of us met with kindergartners in the library to give them a context for this week’s LEAPS’ experience. We brainstormed animals that live in Maine, and after eliminating dinosaurs, kids generated the following list: snakes, foxes, owls, bluebirds, butterflies, bears, moose, deer, seals, and several kinds of fish. Then each one chose a creature that interested him or her and shared it with the class.
Gathering around 5 large tables this morning, buddy next to buddy, the older ones showed those half their age how to construct an animal from wood, cardboard, and string. Their collagraphs were already up on the community room’s wall as excellent examples of what partners could do collaboratively. We explained that kindergartners would print their animals on the same paper as fourth graders.
Working in tandem, kindergartners filled their plates with shapes, thinking with their buddies about how to represent their Maine creature. As guides, the older children did their utmost to lead the younger ones through the process using words and giving a helping hand. Seeing fourth graders in action as leaders – even through the buzz of many voices, went way beyond what we’d expected.
Having pushed the outside of the envelope as mentors to the younger children, they were truly in their element.
Young people, when we empower them, are more capable than we can imagine. They’re natural collaborators, readying themselves to play a critical role in a challenging universe.
Anticipating the second half of this remarkable project,
Nancy, Avis, Dee, Alanna, Susan, and Alexis