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We Are Each Unique

October 20, 2021 | Kristen Jordan

We have been talking about how each of us was created to be unique and special; no one is just like anyone else.  Two of us may be wearing pigtails, but that doesn’t mean we are the same. We both may have the same color eyes, but we are not the same person.  We have had some good conversations about how each of us is different from every other person, even though we share many of the same qualities and characteristics. 

A value that we embrace at Mustard Seed School is seeing each child as an individual, who is also part of our community here, as well as a part of our world.  Young children are beginning to develop concepts about how they fit into the larger world.  Observing ourselves and thinking about what is the same and different about each other can help with understanding this concept. 

Our artistic work around this topic involves children working on self-portraits as our final reflective work from the creation worship theme.  Children are using the mediums of paint and drawing to create images of themselves.  As part of the process, they look carefully at themselves, in a photograph and a mirror. 

This kind of observational drawing and painting are different than doing this work from your memory or imagination.  Children are being challenged to observe very carefully what they look like.  We have talked about facial features, considered the shapes of each part of the face, and looked at where each feature is on the face.  While making self portraits, children observe their features and note the tiniest of details.  “My eyes are not round!”  “Look at my hair!”

We have also discussed how each person has their own unique shade of skin color.  In paint, children looked carefully at their skin and chose a shade that was closest to their own. 

Often, even at age 3 and 4 these portraits look very much like the child who has done the work.  It can be challenging to draw everything you see when you look at your face in a photograph, so in addition to paying careful attention to details, creating a self-portrait helps children learn to work through a challenging process.  It is very hard work to try to get what you are looking at onto a piece of paper! 

From our Mission Statement: “At Mustard Seed we believe in creating unity as we embrace diversity. By engaging with our differences, we teach our students to genuinely know themselves, their neighbors and the world.”  Children are gaining experience in learning about themselves and others as they engage in the process of making self portraits.  And the resulting work is fantastic!

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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