A child was sitting at the table focused on some work, so I walked over to observe. The child was drawing lines on paper at different angles using a half sheet of paper, ruler, and a pen. When I asked what they were working on, the child said, “I am creating my own project.” I asked, “Could you teach me the technique because I want to try it.” The child said, “Sure, you need a piece of paper.”
I love it when the children use a variety of tools and explore techniques they have acquired during previous work to create work of their own. Creative work that is led by the children, invites other children to join in the creative process. As I started to work with one child other children came to inquire about the project and started creating geometric designs of their own.
With my paper in hand, I realized I needed a ruler. I asked another child if they could find me a ruler, and I searched for a pen to begin my creation. The project involved using the ruler to draw random lines on paper at different angles. Repeating this action created a series of geometric shapes on the paper.
As I started drawing lines with my pen and ruler, I wondered if my choosing to participate in the work was influencing or taking away from the experience of the children who were working alongside. When working with school age children I find there is a delicate balance between working together and taking away from the children’s work. I want to connect with them socially, and this is done as we work and play together, but I must be aware if my involvement has an influence and step away, if necessary, so the children can wonder and make discoveries on their own.
The next step in our work involved choosing a marker and outlining one shape on the page. Then I was instructed to choose a different color marker and trace the same shape, moving inward as I traced. This process was repeated over and over with multiple colors until all of the geometric shapes were filled with many stripes of color.
The process of this work was simple. Many children joined us for this work and the child who originally demonstrated the process was able to guide others. As more children came to the table to see what we were doing I stepped away so the child could be the leader and my work would not be a distraction. I finished my drawing later when most of the children had gone home for the day, and did a portion of the final work at home.
This project was a good example of the collaboration between children in a school age program. Having a large age range of children is often viewed as a challenge for school age educators. Inviting older children to become part of the community by guiding and leading younger children enhances their experience, enhances the experience of all the children, and builds the learning community.