My creativity has waned over the past few years and I find myself making far less time for artistic endeavors than I have in the past. That’s a difficult admission for someone who once dreamed of being an artist, and who was just a couple of classes short of having an official minor in art. My father nixed the first idea by repeatedly making it clear that “you can’t make a living by drawing”. I was never sure if that was the universal “you” or he was specifically critiquing my drawing. I was afraid to ask. And I failed to get my minor in art because the two classes I needed both required mid-afternoon attendance, which I could never coordinate with my work schedule.
For a few years I incorporated my artistic and educational skills and created craft ideas for Mailbox, Lollipops, and other school magazines. At last count I had published over fifty little craft ideas for children. I even made puzzles and games for several magazines. But as some of those magazines ceased publication, and I became more involved in historical research and genealogy, I stopped thinking of “five crafty ways to use a candy wrapper”. (I was actually asked about that during a job interview!) So that area of my brain has not had a real challenge for a while.
It is still my goal to take painting lessons at some future date, but I know that art will continue to play a very small part in my life. Drawing and painting require far more time and thought than I can devote to them without giving up other things that also give me joy and satisfaction and are far easier to incorporate into my current schedule.
I say all this as a preface to the utter amazement I feel this year as I watch my students draw during their “free choice” periods. After they complete their work they have the option of getting a “table center” (games, puzzles, flashcards, etc.), a book, or working in their journals. I bought them those little black and white composition notebooks. They each have crayons and markers at their desks, and there are colored pencils available at the art center. If they are hard-working students who doing their work quickly and correctly they usually end up with three ten-minute free periods per day. In addition, we have a twenty-minute center time after lunch. I have always had these options in my room, but this is the first time I’ve had more than one or two students who prefer their journals over any other activity! This year I have six students who just can’t wait to create a new drawing each day! And three of them have already completed their first journal and received a new one! I don’t think that has ever before happened so early in the year.
Many of my students make very simple journal drawings. Some use stencils from the art center. Some write words or numbers. Some make stick figure drawings of family members. My six artists make elaborate drawings that are based on stories or challenges: “Let’s see who can make the best robot. We’ll let C be the judge!”
I think their drawings are fabulous and I posted some recently on my kindergarten blog. But I just couldn’t resist including more for you today. Creative minds…