Beautiful Junk and the Robot Convention
With the return from Spring Break and the start of April we have been thinking a lot about taking care of the earth. April is Earth Month, next week is Earth Week, and the 21st is Earth Day but we know in KM that at SCH EVERYDAY is Earth Day!!
The first week of April we really concentrated on how to conserve paper resources. This is a challenging task for our KM group this year who adores few things more than a fresh stack of paper to draw, draw, draw or write, write, write. As supplies in the art area and writing area became low I encouraged the girls to think creatively about how they could create and what they could utilize. Our beautiful junk bin is typically an option during choice time and what happens during the course of working with this alleged “junk” is often amazing. One of our first junk engineers this year was Cate. She worked deliberately to create a metal detector. She led the girls in the challenge of creating with fewer resources. When girls build structures and sculptures from beautiful junk they are often met with a series of challenges. Things collapse, don’t stick, won’t fit together as proposed. One of our engineers recently rushed to me proud with a structure but upon lifting it from the table the insides of her structure tipped over the edge and fell to the floor. She was visibly upset. I encouraged her to go inspect her structure and see what she could do so that wouldn’t happen again. After some very intentional adjustments she brought her structure to me again. “Look!” she called while confidently turning her structure upside down. When I asked her how she could turn her structure upside down without worrying she told me, ”Well I made it stronger. I made it more secure with different tape. I added this (a bottle cap) so the big part wouldn’t wiggle. That’s stable isn’t it?” I definitely agreed and marveled at the language she had absorbed from our conversations in the block area and Physics Lab. Each of your daughters has had a similar but unique experience while building with the junk or blocks. The first week back a group of girls built a robot convention. Now a group of girls is thinking about how they could use the contents of the beautiful junk basket to create outfits and accessories for their stuffies. There were dresses, bandanas, purses, and flip flops to name a few. We’ve also had a doll made from a toothpaste box, a purse, a treasure box, and more.
For those of you who haven’t discovered our junk basket, it currently lives near the art shelf. Thank you for helping to keep it well stocked with items – paper towel rolls, packaging, tops from laundry soap, unused Dixie cups, cotton from medicine bottles, beads from broken necklaces, pieces of wrapping paper, fabric, ribbon and the like are always welcome
“So,” you may be wondering, “What do I do with the results of all of this fabulous creativity, persistence, and independence?” I will give you Kristin Trueblood’s well-tested parenting secret regarding junk sculptures. As her two daughters brought item upon item home in lower school she would admire them and leave them on the kitchen table for a few days. Then she would move them to the top of the washing machine. If no one mentioned the structure again, into the trashcan it slipped. As with the majority of the pre-k curriculum, the point is the learning process that comes with creating not the object itself. Speaking of process and creating, it is not uncommon for me to eventually spot a few girls stockpiling items from the junk basket in their backpack. The intent is not for them to bring home an untouched waffle box. I’ve spoken to the girls about utilizing the materials in school and bringing home their finished sculpture to share with you so feel free to follow up if you find any junk coming home untouched.