The Storyteller, December 2017
“Thinking in Terms of Stories”: Drawing, Thinking, and Story-telling
“Children use drawing as a powerful tool for thinking. In different ways and at different rates, they develop a range of mark-making skills and strategies, and use drawing for various representational purposes in their quest to make sense of themselves and their world” (Kolbe, 2005).
Dear Families and Friends,
Children’s drawing happens in all of our spaces: the atelier, classroom, construction studio, atelier of taste, atelier of living organisms, outdoor studio deck, workshop, and the atelier of stories/dramatic play. According to development and to individual abilities, children’s skill in representing subjects varies a great deal, starting with ‘mark-making’ and eventually evolving into beautiful observational drawings and complex construction designs, for example.
It is important to acknowledge that the youngest children’s ‘mark-marking’ is a graphic language in which they express ideas, feelings and stories. Sometimes we call this work, “action drawing,” as children begin to narrate their movements as they draw: we hear stories about race cars on a race track, animal families and their homes, birthday parties—and much more! We observe a strong relationship between the action drawing and pretend play—as both serve a variety of purposes in supporting children’s developing interpretation and understanding of people, places, events and experiences in their world—and in action drawing, the mark-making and imaginative pretend play merge together.
We encourage children to use drawing as a way to explore and refine their thinking, as well. Asking children to draw their idea for a block building project, for example, requires that they focus carefully on their plan and examine it for its viability, presenting a cognitive challenge. Responsive drawing—or observational drawing– invites the artist to develop a relationship with the subject and demonstrate her thinking (and feeling) about its elements, refining understanding with effort and perseverance.
Currently, children in the Sunflower and Lavender classes are representing the seeds they have collected on their walks in the neighborhood and encountered in the atelier of taste. After small group and class discussions and sensory exploration, the children are using oil pastels on large black paper to show their understanding of the seeds—in the context of the living organisms. How does the environment of the atelier of living organisms play a role in children’s aesthetic research? What affect might music have on their drawings—and stories?
Last year, Sunflower teachers facilitated children’s use of stop motion video to animate their drawings and stories. This endeavor demanded a new understanding of perspective and detail. The children were delighted with both the process and the outcome!
The topic of children’s drawing is highly complex.
We are continually surprised at what we learn about children and about how they express their ideas, feelings and understandings through graphic language. Each school year the teachers and I select topics and readings for our own professional development. One of the wonderful resources we refer to and revisit with new colleagues is Ursula Kolbe’s book: It’s Not a Bird Yet: The drama of drawing (2005).
Not surprisingly, Kolbe makes many references to the work of Vea Vecchi, Reggio atelierista, and to materials as languages. Kolbe explains that each drawing material ‘speaks’ in a different way, adding new elements to ‘thinking’ according to the affordances of the material: crayon, fine-point markers, pencils, chalk, oil pastels, for example.
This beautiful and exciting Fall-to-Winter holiday season offers a multitude of subjects for children to represent and to elaborate through narration and story-telling. We are looking forward to their stories.
With warm wishes for a wonderful holidays,
The preschool will close on Friday, Dec. 8 for conferences between parents and teachers. Childcare will be provided by PPS staff members during the time of your conference. Teachers look forward to sharing authentic examples of children’s growth and development during the past few months as represented in microstories, small group stories, work samples and additional documentation included in children’s individual portfolios.
Our Reggio inspired approach directs us toward assessment that is contextual and oriented toward process and social constructivist learning theory. We also like to look for joy and beauty—while still keeping in mind kindergarten readiness skills, such as self-regulation and communication, that are part of a general disposition toward learning.
We realize that not all parents are able to have their conference on Friday, Dec. 8 and will offer a few morning and afternoon conferences on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 11 and 12.
December Charity Initiatives
The Outreach Committee members will soon be collaborating on initiatives for our PPS community’s support this month. We will be collecting new, unwrapped toys for the Connections for Children Holiday Toy Drive, starting on Friday, Dec. 1. Also starting on Dec. 1, you will find large collection bins from the Westside Food Bank. Both outreach efforts will end on Wednesday, Dec. 13. Please look for flyers with more information.
Before closing for the holidays this month, the PPS Board of Trustees will meet to discuss tuition amounts for the 2018-2019 school year. Following tuition decisions, new tuition schedules and applications for returning and toddler families will be available this month. (Please note that toddler families are considered to be returning families with guaranteed admission.)
The applications will be due to Karen when we return in January. Karen will then create Admission Agreements for returning and toddler families to sign and submit with the June (2019) tuition payment by Jan. 30 (returning families) or the May and June (2019) tuition payments (new toddler families). Current Rosemary and Lavender families who are considering a third year of preschool for their child will need to make decisions in January. Nancy will be available for discussions with individual parents, seeking input from teachers, as well.
In early Feb. we will be able to see how many spaces we may have available for new families and, according to our agreement with a group of about 30 other preschools in our area, we will notify new families of admissions on Feb. 8, 2018.
Holiday Celebrations and Traditions
We invite you to share special family holiday traditions with the children and teachers in your child’s class. This might include special foods, recipes, stories, music or photos from your family album. We suggest that Hanukkah celebrations take place on Monday or Tuesday, Dec. 11 or 12, and Christmas celebrations be planned for Friday, Dec. 15. Please consult with teachers about times and share with them what you are planning to do for your celebration. Thank you.
On Thursday, December 14, Parker Bent will lead the children in singing a few holiday songs as part of our annual PPS holiday tradition. The Songfest is not really a performance–rather an informal holiday gathering that features the children and Parker.
The Cherry Blossom and Rosemary children will start the day in their classrooms at 8:45 while parents find seats in the Parish Hall. The CB/Rosemary Songfest is from 9:15 to 9:45, followed by refreshments.
The Lavender and Sunflower children will start the day as usual in their classrooms and join parents downstairs from about 10:15 to 10:45, also followed by refreshments.
- Friday, Dec. 1—Outreach Initiatives begin (Toy and Food Collections)
- Tuesday, Dec. 5—Tandy Parks mindful parenting meeting in Library at 9:15
- Wednesday, Dec. 6—Parent Tour #1 at 9:30
- Thursday, Dec. 7—Parent Tour #2 at 9:30
- Friday, Dec. 8—Parent Teacher Conferences—preschool closed
- Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12—Hanukkah parties
- Wednesday, Dec. 13–Holiday puppet shows for children in Parish Hall at 9:30 & 10:30 (Franklin Haynes)
- Wed., Dec. 13—Outreach Initiatives end
- Thursday, Dec. 14—Songfests at 9:15 (CB/R) and 10:15 (Sun/Lav)
- Friday, Dec. 15—Christmas parties and closure for Winter Break–Early Dismissal (12, 12:15, 12:30 and 12:40)
- Dec. 18-Jan. 8–Preschool closed for Winter Break
January Calendar Notes
- Friday, Jan. 5—Professional development day
- Monday, Jan. 8–Faculty and staff return to prepare for reopening of preschool
- Tuesday, Jan. 9—Preschool reopens for all classes
- Friday, Jan. 12—Applications for 2018-2019 for returning and toddler families due
- Monday, Jan. 29—Admission Agreement and June 2018-19 tuition deposits due for returning and toddler families
Pictures from School Events