I came across the Awesome Squiggles project while taking part in the online conference Ditch Summit, hosted by Matt Miller. I love this project for many reasons. First, it gives students an authentic audience beyond the four walls of their school. Second, it provides an opportunity to connect with and learn from other students around the world. For my students, some of whom have never been outside their small town, this is an amazing opportunity. Finally, the rules regarding their work of art are simple and awesome. You can use any materials you want and create any image you want, as long as you can still see the four original squiggles. Brilliant!
My students spent the afternoon trying out different materials. We had some chalk pastels, pencil crayon, crayon, marker, paint, and water colours. I was out of the room, released to work on IEPs (Individual Education Plans), but I had to come back in a few times. Each time, students couldn’t wait to show me what they had created. They created all kinds of interesting things! Most of them created with one medium the first time and then tried something new the second. It was awesome!
He used chalk pastel on the left and pencil crayon (possibly with some marker) on the right.
My personal favourite moment was when I came in the room and one of my students was asking for white glue. I had no idea what she had in mind, but I got it out and handed it over. I came back to discover that she had put glue down and then used chalk pastel shavings almost like glitter to create her art. How original!
This was the result. It looks kind of cool and the texture in person is awesome.
There were many original works of art. I have shared some of them in a gallery format here.
I very much look forward to re-visiting Awesome Squiggles with my students in April. I’m excited to see what new things they try, and we are all excited to meet another class from around the world.
I have been blogging offline since before I had this site. I knew that I would make one someday, but hadn’t yet figured out how, so I started writing when I had the inspiration and kept them for moments like this when I don’t have much time to write and need some inspiration. This post was written May 19, 2016.
I don’t like my original opening question so I deleted it, but I remain blown away by the depth of thought displayed by my kindergarten students on that day.
Today, I was fortunate enough to spend the day with 14 SK students. Near the end of the day, students had a circle time to share some of the things that they learned and explored that day. Earlier in the day, a group of boys asked to share a play they had made at the play dough centre. When it came time to present, the boys seemed a little disorganized. It wasn’t easy, and they weren’t always facing their audience, but they proceeded with their play. It was loud, shrieky at times, and I got the impression that there might be violence going on, but I was behind them facing the audience so I wasn’t positive and with four of them talking at once at times, I was having a difficult time keeping up. Eventually it got so noisy that I paused them, thinking that perhaps they were just playing and not actually doing a play. I didn’t let my bias run the day though, so I checked in with the audience to see if they understood what was happening. About 2/3 of the audience was up to speed, but there were about five or six students who were also lost, so I asked the group if they could have one person explain the story and what had happened so far. Boy was I ever glad that I did.
It turned out that there was a bug (all the characters were made of plastic bug frames with play dough bodies) that had turned everything to jelly so they had to kill that bad guy and turn everything back. I was right, there was some violence, but I let them continue. That’s when things got really interesting. The bugs next had to battle the pollution cloud and all the car people. They had to capture the car people and make them ride bicycles, and they had to get rid of the pollution cloud. I’ll admit, their methods were a little extreme, but they were actively challenging climate change in a very specific way. If they are thinking like this now, imagine what they will come up with when they are old enough to do something about it. It seems like such a daunting task to have to figure out how to encourage and develop this interest in these boys, and teach them the tools they will need to solve the problem when I am not even sure myself what that would entail. So for now, I settle for remarking on their story and encouraging them to finish it, hoping that they continue to think big and tackle the world’s problems to the best of their abilities.
What can we do to nurture the curiosity and creativity that are naturally present in small children? What is it about school that tends to make this disappear as students get older? How can we reverse that trend, especially when we ourselves may feel ill-equipped to adequately provide students with the skills they will need as adults in our rapidly changing world?