For my Wednesday morning enrichment classes, I’ve sort of been at a loss. I really want to do collaborative projects but it’s scary to think you can do that successfully with Kinders and 1st. I’m not saying it’s impossible but it does take a lot of work! Well, I decided to dive in as though it was step by step process.
Last week, we did an individual Kandinsky project that we combined together as a large scale mural. This obviously didn’t force collaboration but it introduced the idea of multiple artwork coming together as one piece. It was also a great chance to work on drawing circles repetitively and so on. It turned out well and students liked the idea of using multiple colors. We simply used oil pastels on black squares of paper.
When the returned this week for their extended art time, I wanted them to work together – in a guided way. I know, true collaboration means you step back and let them do all the problem solving but we have to understand that kindergarteners and first graders are still grasping how to handle their own space and personality that working in a group typically involves a lot of bossing, whining, etc.
I started off by designed a simple mosaic that would get them motivated – something that surrounded our school. Each table had a different section (I have 30 kids at a time so spreading them out helps). They received scrap paper and tore it into pieces, gluing it to sections of the project. I came around to help show them some strategies but overall we discussed what we can do to be better leaders. A lot of students started off weak, wanting the glue more than the next person and not sharing space. But as I helped them with prompts, I began to see some great problem solving! The students came up with steps they could do to make the process go faster – like one student added the glue to the paper and another placed them down! This was great to see, especially at their age. Within the 45 minutes we went from “not so sure” about working together to excited as groups to see the finish line!
In the end, we discussed what was hard. Sharing was really hard for some but as we discussed further my students shared that it was really fun to talk with one another about the work and getting along. One student said “It’s like we are all friends together.” which of course, I’m sure they meant they were getting along and working on the project well – but the way it was worded was perfect. This was just step two of our collaborative journey. I have high hopes that as we grow as leaders we can really start to create our own projects and ideas in our work – not just guided ones!