Saturday, March 15, 2014

Warm Hearts, Creative Two Year Olds - A Happy Story

Our city's Public Library sponsored an art show and contest for all ages, this past Valentines' Day. The contest was named Melting Hearts, and the public was invited to create a card, with art and poem. There was a category for schools and classrooms. This seemed like a great opportunity for my small group of two and three year olds' at the daycare center where I work.

Earlier in the year we had been working on special art with a possibly Valentine theme, to be used for fundraising, by our daycare, It was intended that the art would be made into lovely sets of art cards that families could purchase. Unfortunately, due to to other circumstances the project fell through.

My group had done some really creative work, and some children had created up to 8 pictures in this project. We used acrylic folk paint, ribbon, construction paper, and a few other media, on small 9X7 canvases purchased at the dollar store. Some children even painted themselves!

I came upon the poster for the art show, in the first week of February. Thanks to the quick acting of my families, I soon had an art piece for each child, selected by the parent, or child and parent; consent forms filled out, as well as a letter explaining the project.

We would need a poem or poems to go with the art. I first attempted to have the children help me make a poem, but they were more interested in playing. Next, I spent a day or two listening for possible warm words from the conversations of the children as they played.

At this point we had been indoors for 5 weeks or so, not being able to go outdoors due to the weather. Our center's weather policy states that we could not be outside in temperatures colder than -25. I had needed to work on teaching kind words. I'm sure anyone would understand that 8 small children confined together in a  small room for up to 10 hours a day can develop conflicts, especially related to ownership of space and materials.

As I listened, I was happy and proud, to hear my children, ask, "Can I play with you?" and "Sure". Or, "Here, you can have this crayon, or puzzle, etc." Of course this didn't always happen, we still had fights, now and then, but much less than previously. It's reassuring to  witness young children learning the rules of getting along. :)

I typed the warm words, cut them out, and then we sat together at a table to look at the words, on the slips of paper. Each child picked out a word, chose the spot to glue it onto a canvas, and the result was our poem, "It May Be Cold Outside, But Our Hearts are Warm". I wish I could share here my photo of the children as they sat around their finished poem, their faces were beaming. I do know this is something we will do again.

 I needed to deliver our project to the library by Friday, Feb. 14, by 5:30. I arranged to leave work one half hour early so as to get there on time. I would not get there on time. I had misread my bus schedule. I tried to phone a taxi, but couldn't get through to the two companies I tried. However, I got there by bus, at 6:15, to find two wonderful art gallery workers still collecting art, and happy to receive ours.

The art curator for the gallery at the Library, chose to display our project in a glass case at the entrance of the libray.
There was a small reception one week later. One of the children was given a prize for Runner Up. I hadn't realized that the work would be judged individually, but that really was okay, no other families minded. It was exciting, to see this little girl, and her mom and dad enjoying the reception, and receiving a $25.00 gift card, as well as getting to see her work on display.

The curator was happy that we had entered the show, we were the only group of daycare aged children, and she said that the work was lovely. :)

It's now the middle of March, and we have just been able to play outdoors for two weeks. One or two days were warm with wonderful melting snow, some days are more traditional for March here, still below freezing, with snow that has an icy surface, and a sky that is rather bleak. But still the children have been out morning and afternoon, and loving the outdoor play.

I'm glad that during the really cold parts of this winter, with temperatures often at -48 to -52 with the wind, that we had the chance to participate in a community event, create some interesting art, and learn how to get along better.

I'm not sure, but maybe there is a lesson here, about hardship and creativity.