The children were working with building materials and creating with Lego. Star Wars was the topic of interest. Many children were working side by side, creating spaceships and talking about the vessels under construction.
When the children are choosing work and have time to be mindful in their creative process, a collaborative effort blossoms. The collaboration begins with a discussion then turns to action as the ideas expressed are attempted and refined.
As I listened closer, the discussion shifted focus from the characters in Star Wars and spaceships, to a deeper discussion about the techniques used for creating with Lego. The discussion and investigation was about the versatility and functionality of each Lego piece, and what Lego piece would give the desired visual and structural effect the children were working to create.
The group had become less active and were focused on what the possibilities each Lego piece offered for the construction of their spaceships. The actual construction came to a halt for a few minutes as the children engaged in discussion and made decisions about what Lego would work effectively to create the spaceship each child had envisioned.
The stoppage of work has a purpose for children. New or less experienced creators are interested in learning new techniques for Lego, or any other activity, from children who have more experience and are more adventurous with the material.
This pattern of children learning from each other is repeated in all areas of the school. Helping and learning from each other is the glue that binds and grows the learning community. In school age care, the age range is wide so the opportunity for the children to guide and encourage each other is plentiful.
As they returned to work, the children started verbalizing the new techniques being attempted with Lego. The children were listening deeply to each other, building, and occasionally stopping their work to watch and engage with another child.
For the children, the process of learning a new technique is more than a physical and verbal activity. All of the senses are employed as the children take in new information and form patterns of thought around their new creative work.
Continuing their work with Lego, the children built and disassembled their spaceships numerous times during the work session. The process of iteration was in play, with the action of build, experiment, discover, and re-build taking place numerous times over the course of the afternoon. This process was helping the children make discoveries and to create ships more detailed and elaborate than their beginning work.
The process of iteration continued for many days after the initial work began. The children were saving their ships, formulating new ideas, and attempting new techniques as the days moved forward. Part of the creative process involved playing with the ships as well. During play, the children were making discoveries and forming new ideas about how to improve their ships. The entire process of building, playing, experimenting, making discoveries, and re-building helped create a Lego community. This community of children, worked together as the school year progressed, investigating new building interests and created new projects as a team.
This is the benefit of collaborative creative work in the school age community. Friendships are born, learning is stimulated, and the learning community is strengthened by the act of children coming together to share an idea and explore a material of their own choosing.