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So Many Ways to Explore and Experience!

October 19, 2022 | Kristen Jordan

Often, we try to incorporate many different pathways for children to enter into and engage in any given subject matter. Children learn by looking, touching, making, listening, collaborating and creating.  Over the past few weeks, children have had many opportunities to respond to the Creation Worship stories. Hopefully, their understanding of the stories has been deepened and enriched as a result of a wide variety of experiences in and outside of the classroom. 

Throughout this Creation worship theme, children have been responding through various art mediums. They have done a great deal of painting and collaging.  All of the work has involved each child making their own decisions, to varying degrees, in the creative process.  

In some of the collaborative projects, children chose which colors to use and where to place their paper or paint.

For some of the art experiences, teachers chose what the children would make (e.g. a flamingo, or a generic fish) but again, children used their own creativity to design the details.

For other art experiences, children have made their own choices about which animal they want to paint or collage, thought about all of the characteristics and details for that animal, and created their own version.  

Even though some children chose the same animal, they each look unique! 

We have had discussions about how God created all of these beautiful things, including people, and as people, God has given us the special gift of being able to create beautiful things too.   This week, we have begun talking about how God created each of us to be a unique individual.  We read the book, The Colors of Us, and have been looking very carefully at our skin, hair and eye colors to make paintings, drawings and collages of ourselves.  Keep watching out for more about self portraits as these artistic responses unfold!

In addition to responding artistically to the creation worship theme, there are many other ways that the children have been able to enter in to the theme of creation.  

We have read books about creation, and discussed how different artists have chosen to portray creation, just as the children have done.

The children have been able to play with the materials in the worship basket as they retell the story with partners and interact with the materials themselves. 

There have been many materials available at the light table for children to use to create their own beautiful designs and scenes that reflect much of creation. 

Children have noticed so much outside in nature as we venture to the park: the smallest plant growing out of a crack, leaves turning colors, clouds in the sky, squirrels hopping around. 

The walking trip last Friday was another beautiful way to experience the creation story. Rabbi Scheinberg led the class on a tour through the stunning stained glass windows in the temple that reflect the creation story.  The windows incorporate many natural materials such as rocks and shells, in addition to the glass, just like we use at the light table.

Back in the classroom after the trip, children have had the opportunity to use crayons and oil pastels to make their own “stained glass windows” at the light table.  And then they added beads to enhance the beauty of these windows. 

A few days after the trip, a child noticed colorful mosaic designs on the school building across the park and said, “Look! It is like stained glass!”  When we provide children many opportunities to engage in a topic deeply and over time, they each engage with it in different ways and make many different connections through these experiences.  

Kristen Jordan

Teacher, Rivers Class

Kristen Jordan began helping at Mustard Seed School in 2006, after her daughter had been a student in the preschool. She substituted for many years in all grades; in 2011, she returned to the classroom and has been a teacher in The Nest ever since.

Prior to the birth of her daughter Clara, in 2002, Ms. Jordan worked in Brooklyn as a first grade teacher with the New York City Public Schools. During this time, her school collaborated with the Brooklyn Museum, and this work helped Ms. Jordan develop a real interest in the parallels between the process of making art and the process of writing in the classroom. She thoroughly enjoys teaching both art and literacy to preschoolers.

Ms Jordan’s background includes work with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. While at Teachers College, she trained with esteemed educator and author Lucy Calkins. Early in her teaching career, Ms. Jordan did not think that she wanted to teach very young children but her view has changed! She now really enjoys and takes great interest in young children and their development.

Ms. Jordan enjoys reading, working out, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her daughter and family. Although she has lived on the East Coast for a very long time, as a native of Oregon, she really loves the mountains!

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