Bridges, Blueprints, and Spires

Since I read Building Structures with Young Children by Chalufour and Worth I have been trying to implement some of their suggestions.  I’ve been starting our class with a meeting in which we look at photos from the previous week’s building session.  This week I was able to connect a structure one of the student’s built last time to a photo I had taken of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral which I photographed in New York City on my recent trip there.



Then one of the students reminded me that she wanted to create a blueprint before she built which was something we had tried before spring vacation.  I had one of those moments where I thought….oh yeah…I was going to have paper and markers available every class. (When you travel to different school sites like I do it’s easy to forget less critical supplies.) Luckily  paper and markers  were available from our office closet just outside my classroom.  After J. drew her blueprint she was looking for a specific block.  I kept hauling the wrong block out of the special pieces tub.  Finally she said, “I want that piece like T. used in the photo you showed us from last week.”  Instantly I knew she wanted the triangular ramp piece. Although showing photos on the laptop is great….documentation panels would be even better!  I’m going to have to put getting photos printed up on my ever expanding to do list of ideas to implement!  This is  just one class, but it’s so much fun and I love seeing how their ideas are expanding each week!


About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
Aside | This entry was posted in art education, reflections on teaching and learning and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bridges, Blueprints, and Spires

  1. Robin Brooks says:

    Hi Frances, I enjoyed reading your blog post on block building with children. I am working on a documentation panel about the same topic right now for my Saturday seminar series which concludes in two weeks. The book you read has many elements of Reggio-inspired practice–sharing back work to the children and gathering evidence of children’s concerns in process rather than simply documenting end products. Photos are helpful in keeping thread of children’s interests and concerns going from week to week.

    Most of my students prefer to draw after they build rather than before. They are so hungry to get their hands on materials. Lack of planning doesn’t seem to detract from the quality of their work with blocks as much as it does when my students approach consumable materials where poor choices lead to a lot of waste. This has to do with the inherent structure and aesthetics of the wooden blocks as well as their reversable nature. One can always start again.

  2. Hi Robin, I introduced the concept of designing with a plan in mind, because we are learning about architecture and architects. I wanted to expose kids to the way an architect might approach a project by planning and sketching an idea. I also would love for the kids to draw what they have created afterwards, though generally it seems that we run out of time. I will have to plan specifically to do that and carve out the time. Generally once they have tried something at least some of them will then continue, just as the one student asked to draw a blueprint first.
    I appreciate your comments about the student process and the Reggio inspired practice. I hope you will photograph and share your documentation panels!

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