Developing Creative Learners
Children are, by nature, curious and are keen to participate if something looks like it's going to be fun, engaging and exciting. They don't need fancy or expensive materials to be creative and have fun in the process. They are great at using their imaginations and their collaborations inspire each other.
This evening's presentation was from a group of Roehampton University students. They described their experience in leading a class of 18 six year olds at a Battersea school in a cross-curricular art project.
The school's requirement was to use cross-curricular links in art, science, geography, ICT and literacy. The student teachers' challenge was to be creative in how they delivered their lesson plan in order to engage the children whilst ensuring cross-curricular learning.
The brief of South American wild flowers was set by the school.
The students' project was delivered over several weeks in four stages:
• Treasure Hunt using a 'wild form'
• 2D drawing of reimagined/undiscovered wild flower
• 3D sculpture of their wild flower using 2D drawing as a guide
• Show & Tell presentation to their peers
The Treasure Hunt
Armed with a 'wild form', and using the outdoors as a stimulus, the children set about searching for hidden wild flowers (which the students had provided in the form of plastic flowers). Back in the classroom the children used an iPad app to log their findings. The children also used the interent to research South American wild flowers and compared them to UK wild flowers noting the differences. The cross-curricular links here were geography and literacy and ICT.
The 2D Drawing
Using the knowledge gleaned from their treasure hunt and internet research and using their imagaination the children created 2D drawings of their own undiscovered wild flower. The student teachers engaged and encouraged the children by asking questions (what? how? why?) leading them to make thoughtful and informed decisions and choices.
The 3D Model
Using their 2D drawings as a guide the children set about making a 3D model of their wild flowers. They were provided with junk modelling resources but were otherwise left with a free, open-ended excercise so as not to constrain their creativity. Again, the student teachers observed, questioned, encouraged and motivated the children. Observations were made, such as children choosing to use shiny, plastic materials for the waxy flower petals and tissue paper to apply colour.
During this activity the student teachers observed a powerful group connection and commented how "chatty" the children were. Everyone is happy when they feel the energy of unity and being part of the group intensifies the energy. The atmosphere of togetherness creates positivity and a feeling of being connected, this unity initiates more conversation which in turn feeds the cycle of engagement and motivation.
Show and Tell
Finally the children presented their wild flowers to their peer group in the form of a show and tell. It was observed that the children were indeed making cross-curricular connections as evidenced in their use of language, using key vocabulary, to describe their wild flowers to their peers. They were passionate and enthusisatic and had increased their knowledge of plant structure (the science link).
The student teachers' findings were that children are more motivated to learn when they take ownership of something. Without a rigid structure in place the children were allowed to be free and unconstrained which enabled them to be independent, imaginative, original and innovative. There was a strong team spirit with a positivity that carried through to other areas of learning. This positivity widens their repertoire of thought making it a lot easier to deliver energy. The children were allowed time and opportunities to take creative risks boosting their self esteem and confidence and creating divergent thinking. These are all important skills necessary in adult life.
In summary the student teachers had created a fun, meaningful and inventive project where staff and children were equally involved in the activity... staff (planning and guidance) and children (participation and involvement) highlighting that if you show someone the way they will want to come with you on the journey.