Monday, 9 April 2018

The story of looking closely

The March equinox has passed... this means that I will be starting to work a little more on the International Fairy Tea Party project...
This year I have decided that the theme will be #lookclosely - something that I saw happened naturally with my preschoolers (and myself) as we explored fairies... where do they live, where do they come from, how small are they really, can we find traces of them.. etc etc.
As we looked for clues we found so much magic in nature... we also learned a great deal about nature... and in turn there was a greater tendency by the children to take care of nature... both to protect the fairies and also to protect the nature they now understood better and marvelled at more.

In a recent post about The Art of Learning I was inspired by Arthur Harry Church who said "Until one has drawn it is impossible to understand" - that through drawing we notice details that we would otherwise have missed... through the movement of the pen we gain an understanding of the movement of the subject we draw... or an understanding of how it is made... etc.

By looking closely we also get this chance to se things that we might have missed.

By taking close up photos we get the chance to see yet another perspective of what we observe.

There are many ways to look closely... cutting out a small hole in some card can help children (and adults) focus on a detail rather than the whole... to look closely and observe what they know in a new way.
Taking close-up photos allows us to see new details... especially if you have a camera that kets you get really close... but the film I include here uses photos I have taken with my mobile phone... I do have a camera with a fabulous lens too... but I wanted the film to be an inspiration that does not require fancy technology.

Magnifying glasses are great simple ways of exploring nature in new ways - including the jars with magnifying lids.

microscopes too... for a real close up look - and technology is such that computers, i-pads etc can be linked up to digital microscopes which make it easier for young children to explore the very small.
My posts on Border Crossing reflects on nature and technology... another post of this kind will be coming too.

Sometimes drawing the details can be easier than drawing the whole... I have worked with children that preferred to draw using squares rather than rounded forms... so robots rather than people... and drawing  cells or parts connected together was easier than a whole plant - this gave the child a framework to excel within their own competence and from that feeling of competence build the details together until a whole was made... ie learning to draw in multiple ways based on the child's own competence and confidence.
The close up pictures are more abstract... and for those children who do not feel comfortable making mistakes, the abstract is a more comfortable place to start from. And for me it is always about helping children to find their own starting place to be able to then go on to explore their own learning and also discover techniques and learn to dare to take risks... and yes I think drawing and art is also risk taking... for some it's more scary than others... just as some children will jump from high places without blinking an eye while others barely dare to climb that high let alone jump..

So looking closely is not just about the child looking at nature close up... it is also a chance for us as educators to look closely at the child to better understand - the child, their play and their learning.

I hope you join in The International Fairy Tea Party this year in September... and celebrate play and imagination. I hope that you join in the #lookclosely theme and explore the world through new eyes...
but you do not HAVE to do the look-closely theme to participate in the International Fairy tea Party... that you can do any way you think is best for the children you work with... the most important is to play and to imagine.

and of course we can look closely year round...
Looking closely means slowing down... if we are always in a hurry that we will miss the details, miss the beauty, that is hidden before our very eyes...
It is linked to original learning in the sense that we learn organically through our observations, by awakening natural curiosity etc - read here to learn more about Original Learning

Below are some photos with comments and also some quotes...
with my superduper camera I can take close up photos of birds... but I still have to be quiet and learn to place myself right in order not to disturb the birds. Using photography as a language to look closely means learning about animal behaviour, our own impact on nature, how the weather impacts nature etc etc...

taking the time to slow down enough to see things... like a dead bumble bee... then to take the time to look closely.
Looking closely means slowing down

beauty and fear... sometimes it is a fine line... learning to respect nature, and how to handle nature properly.

all seasons have magic to share...  fairies were a gateway for us as a group to learn about nature...

by playing we make further discoveries - how does light impact the leaves, what happens when we squash a berry?

looking closely is a part of this rich sensory experience children need to be exposed to

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