Saturday, September 25, 2010

Open Ended Projects and Creativity

Yesterday, I worked with the kids on an art project that had specific directions, but could be creative. I didn’t come up with the idea. Since this week’s theme was fall colors, the kids had to take five foam shapes, one of each color and glue them to construction paper. After they glued the shapes, they were aloud to draw with markers.

At first, the kids avoided the art table and only came over when another teacher sent them. I tried to get them involved in the activity, but they were bored and I understood why. I felt I had to hold the shapes container so that they wouldn’t take more than five and one of each color. I didn’t want to have to keep telling them, “no, only take one” or, “you have to use all five colors.” I preferred to have a more open ended approach where there was maybe one condition. I might say that they should use all five colors, but it wouldn’t bother me if they decided not to. As long as they were creating something, making choices about where they wanted to place things and which colors they wanted to use it was fine with me.

With the first few kids that came over, I had them follow the directions. When I’d ask them what they made or to tell me about their picture, they were so disinterested. They said they made something but they didn’t know what it was or they were done after gluing the five pieces. They weren’t interested in drawing at all unless they didn’t want to glue.

When the next group of kids came over, I decided that I’d try my open ended approach to see if they’d be more excited about this project. First, I gave them the five pieces, but when they were done, I asked if they’d like more and put the container between them. I told them to use whatever shapes and colors they liked. They started to have fun gluing shapes and using more glue than was necessary. They started naming their creations. One boy called his a beaver and was pointing out where his head, eyes and tail were. The other boy was calling his a race track and talking about engines, a caboose and the door that you went through to get on to the track. I think it was a cross between a train track and race track, but it was creative anyway. I was glad they were having fun at the art table! With kids, less direction leads to a lot more learning and creativity.

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