Shadows and Paint were but a few of the materials on hand for our young visitors on the last day at the Red Hook Library in December of 2013, before taking a 1-2 month break. Realizing we needed to invest more time and energy into fundraising, we decided we had to close up shop; but not before inviting kindred spirits from Brooklyn Apple Academy to share in a day of free exploration and crafting.
We laid out our materials with care and took our six young visitors, two adult chaperones and teaching director Noah Apple Mayers on a tour of the space. They were then free to choose a "station" that most appealed to their creative impulses. Shadow and Paint seemed to have the most draw. But squishing polymer clay through a pasta press, gluing together found objects to create ornaments, and rolling sculptures were close contenders. Today we were so much more focused on a social environment, getting to know each other and making together, that we had little time to document stories in writing. That was okay! We were happy to save that for next time.
One of the things we are discovering about our time at the Red Hook Library and at Beam Center, is that consistency with a group of children we see regularly over a length of time is missing. As we have been opening our doors on a drop-in basis, we are unable to provide a truly project-based approach. This is part of growing our community as a grassroots entity, but it leaves behind much of what we hold to be truth about how children learn most deeply. We are looking to provide long-term and deep learning for our students. It is very important that we find children and parents who are willing to work together with us over a committed length of time. There is a great deal of research to support our beliefs. We hope we find this community soon!
We carefully curate the materials we provide on any given day, to maintain a delicate balance between too much information and too many limitations. This is something with which we continue to learn and experiment. Textures, colors and forms become more relevant when they are used in combination for a specific purpose. Often the items we provide lay untouched for an entire session. That is okay. Having them there may function as a provocation, or simply a crucial step in a child's thinking process.
All in the Making, the Doing, or Perhaps Just Looking
Children enjoy pressing clay through a pasta press and watching the colors blend, then mushing them together to add to a found object sculpture. We honor every interesting thing, take photos, hold things up to light, and place them back down for another's curious examination.
Shadow Theater is so FUN!!
This young boy puts his whole body into the story, dancing and flying his self-created character across the shadow wall. This activity kept him enthralled for quite a time as he watched the scene morph and grow at his will. There is a joy and an ease in this kind of natural play that we LOVE to witness.
Children's Work is Real and Serious
For all the people in the room, there was still quite a bit of focus. One boy discovered how to make a working wheel with a cork, two CDs and some hot glue. Wow! It even made an interesting squeaking noise to rival any real mouse out there. He loved it so much, he was excited to take it home. The Brooklyn Apple children, teachers and parents were generous to gift us many of their painted cards to sell at the market. We were so happy to host a day with this wonderful group of children and the Apple School, and we hope for more collaborations on the horizon.