The Journey of a Child and a Rose

When children are invited to step into a relationship with an object, they begin to see, think and wonder.  Their senses are captivated and their minds and hearts are engaged.

During this work of representational drawing, the children develop skills for looking closely and communicating what they see and think.

Ellen Brown, a graduate student from York University challenged us to think about what children use to help them create their next translation with materials…The original 3-D object or their 2-D representation?  We noticed that this child preferred the 3-D object (the rose)…We’ll continue to explore this idea…

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the petals are soft

 the leaves are picky

I see red and green




there are spikes on the green stem

my dad told me there is important stuff in the stem 



After observing A.H. work, we notice that as she embarks on her next drawing with water colour pencil crayons she makes reference to the 3-D object (the rose) rather than her previous 2-D representations.


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Watching the process move toward colour, we see how the “drawing” becomes more about “colouring”.





A.H. was challenged to represent her thinking using another medium.  This process is called  transmediation.  Again, she seemed more comfortable referring to the 3-D object (the rose) rather than her 2-D representations.  This is something to think about…


A beautiful encounter ends with a written piece composed of feelings and wonderings.  As educators we are left thinking about a couple of things.  First of all, the importance of appropriate materials.  Our Inquiry into representational drawing continues and our next step is to add black fine-tip markers.  Their clarity of line and simple colour will call attention to shape, outline and detail rather than aesthetic beauty.  Secondly, we wonder about children translating their ideas about a 3-D object to a 2-D representation and back to a 3-D representation while using different mediums.  What is their reference point and why?  Is it the 3-D object or do they refer to their 2-D representation?  Interesting!!!!









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I wonder if the ocean is washing the flowers away……A.M.-5 years old

As educators working with documentation we use protocol, we talk about what we see, what we think and what we wonder.  While we have been working with the children on observational drawing, we’ve noticed that it seems that children naturally take themselves to this place where they have these discussions prior to working on their representations.  What would happen if we captured their thinking using this protocol?







C.C.- 4 years old.

I see…..

little bit of yellow


very, very, very dark purple

yellow around the white



I think….

that he purposely did that to make clouds, mix the blue and the white

that the white is the cloud

that the blue mixes with the white and makes the waves in the water

when there is waves in the water and the water goes very fast, the bubbles come up and they are white.


Y.Y.- 6 years old.


I wonder…..

if the ocean is washing the flowers away

if the blue is the rain

if the flowers are facing the sky

if these are ojibwe flowers


THE BEAUTY WONDER E.E.- 5 years old.




THE SKY FLOWERS M.G.- 5 years old.


IT’S SO PRETTY L.R.- 5 years old.






We are astonished at the children’s ability to interpret art.  To interpret is to make something meaningful for ourselves.  To share our interpretations allows for us to have discussions that either elicit further interpretations or confirm our thinking and feeling.  It is very clear that the children were engaged in this type of sharing that allowed for them to enlarge their understandings of this piece of art.

Posted in Atelier, Observational Drawing | 1 Comment

Building Community Beyond…

We are humbled by an invitation from Cambrian College’s Early Childhood Education Department.  Maxine King, the Co-Ordinator of Early Childhood Education offered us an invaluable experience to share culture with some Kindergarten Educators from China. It was such a pleasure to exchange questions and wonderings with friends from abroad.  Wow…what an amazing visit it was 🙂


From left to right:

Iris Yang – Translator and Manager, International Department, Cambrian College, Escort to Mrs. Wang, Mrs. Wang Qu – Principal, Nanping Experimental Kindergarten Preschool Education Group, Chongquing, China, Janice Clarke – Acting Dean, Justice and Community Services Dept. Cambrian College, Maxine King – Coordinator, Early Childhood Education Programs, Cambrian College, Colleen McDonald – Principal, Princess Anne Public School, RDSB, Ramona Shawana – DECE, Princess Anne Public School, RDSB Tara Thall – Teacher, Princess Anne Public School, RDSB, Iva McNair – Principal of Early Learning, RDSB

Our visitors spent a couple of hours observing the children in our classroom and asking questions about our philosophy.  After their visit, we had a wonderful opportunity to chat and share experiences.  We were excited to capture some of Mrs. Wang’s thoughts about her visit with us…

“I think this was wonderful and I have seen a lot of activities.  I see that the children are very happy and they are learning and they are playing. They are very focused on learning. I see that the children have been trained to use their hands and brain together. All those activities designed are very suitable for the children this age. They are learning and playing very happily.  Excellent.  We hope we can do more exchanges and you could visit us and we can learn from you here.”   – Mrs. Wang Qu

They gave us a wonderful book from their schools in China and some beautiful fans.










Miigwech Mrs. Wang Qu for these amazing gifts and Miigwech Cambrian College for this opportunity to build relationships and network with our friends from China.

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Drawn to Nature……..

L.M. finds a dandelion outside during outdoor playtime and is interested in bringing it into the classroom to share with her friends.

What a wonderful opportunity to explore with Observational drawing.  Children are invited into a small group where they are asked to think about paying attention to the detail of the dandelion and to translate their perceptions into a picture of their own.

As an educator I am amazed at the ability of 4 and 5 year old children when they are asked to translate the lines and shapes of a 3 dimensional object onto a piece of paper.  Utilizing their perceptual skills as a means of communicating their ideas perhaps gives educators insight into how young children interpret their world.



If you look in really deep you will see that its different and that is where the bees go in to get the nectar. Then they make bee honey. M.G.



I remember seeing that in the Bee Movie.


it smells like honey. Y.Y.



Our initial encounter with the dandelion allows the children to share their knowledge and expand on each other’s ideas.










And so the children began to use the pencils and paper provided to begin their first experience in observational drawing.  The children are noticing the petals that are growing underneath.  They notice that some of the lines are swirly and that there is some green.  One of the children even notices that there is orange in the middle where the nectar is.

L.M. very quickly felt that a pencil was not the only tool that was needed because she noticed colours of green and yellow.  She hands out green and yellow crayons for her peers to use if they felt that they needed to.

As an educator I am closely watching the children as they concentrate on their dandelion. As they progress rather effortlessly through the process I think about what the children might do with pipe cleaners that are yellow and green.


L.M. 4 years old.



A.M. 5 years old.


M.G. 6 years old.



Y.Y. 5 years old.
















A.M. suggests showing their art pieces to the rest of the class in hopes to inspire them to consider doing something similar.  At the end of the day the artists set up a gallery walk for their peers to have a look at their work and the artists were on hand to answer any questions that anyone had.

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Families of colours and they like each other….


I sorted them out like families.



The Green Family is my favourite colour.  I like them because they all stack together and don’t fall like the red ones.  A.M. counted the green caps and said, “15, that’s how old my cousin D is.”


The White Family is lined up.  I put them there because they kept falling.  “12, that’s my auntie’s age.”

The Red Family– “15 again, my other cousin is almost that age and I know someone who is past that age.  My Uncle B is 18, he’s almost my mom’s age 22, that’s his sister.”

The Blue Family– “11- T is that age, she just has to be one more age to get there, she’s 10.”

The Grey Family– “9- my cousin’s age A. Sometimes the one who is 15 and 9 fight.  The little one gets hurt sometimes and the big one doesn’t.”

As an educator I am thinking about how this material stimulated A.M.’s thinking.  A.M. comes to school everyday and will often choose to visit areas in the classroom that invite periods of relaxation mixed with social time. I am excited about how this material had the power to engage A.M., that he was able to demonstrate such amazing number sense through something he feels so passionate about and that is his FAMILY.  Miigwech to A.M. for reminding me about how important it is to allow everyone TIME to explore and encounter materials in our space.


Posted in Identity, Materials, Math/Problem Solving | Leave a comment

Recycled material provokes Mathematical thinking

We are curious about recycled bottle caps and how they might interest children.  What will the children want to do with the materials?  How will they translate their thinking? We add the materials to the cube in our classroom for the children to begin their encounters with this new material.

As the explorations began the children were naturally drawn to stacking the caps one on top of the other.  Little hands and tiny fingers enjoy the encounter with this material.  Some are small, some are large and some are teeny tiny. LR


T could build a tower of 5 most times and would get to 6 and it would fall.


T decides that he is going to sort the caps by colour because he just couldn’t get the caps to stay stacked on top of one another.


T is working very hard sorting all of the caps. He is challenged to count how many there are of each colour.  T then finds the number chart and places the corresponding number to the amount of caps that he counts.


T counts and finds that there are 71 red caps.

T counts 14 orange and 22 blue and 29 green.  “there are more than the orange and the blue.” T then looks to the red caps, the ones that he is going to sort next.  “the red ones are way more, there are 100.” T continues his sorting and sorts the black caps and counts 19. “its less than all of them.”


“71 is bigger, its awesome. Black is more and orange is less. The green is more than the grey.  Brown has to be beside the pink because there’s only 1. Red caps are more and white caps are less. 1 is the smallest number and 71 is the largest number.” T.

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“My daddy says the red cupcakes are for the boys and the pink cupcakes are for the girls.”

IMG_1025“BUT RED IS MY FAVOURITE COLOUR”, said a sad little girl who wanted a red cupcake!

We decided to ask the children what they thought about the rules placed on the cupcakes…Here are their thoughts…

S.H. (girl):  Maybe the girls and the boys can get red and pink.

L.R. (girl):  The girls that like red get red and the boys that like pink can get pink.

A.B. (girl):  The boys should get red ones because red is a boy colour and the girls should get pink because pink is a girl colour.

S.H. (girl):  That is not true, every colour is for a boy and a girl.

G.S. (girl):  I don’t agree with A.B., red is my favourite colour.  That’s why I have a red back pack.

A.B. (girl):  Maybe the girls can get red and the boys can get pink.

B.C. (boy):  I don’t like pink.

A.B. (girl):  It doesn’t matter what colour you get, it just goes into your tummy.

S.H. (girl):  It all tastes the same anyways.

With all of that said W.M. (girl) left us with this thought…

“I was thinking instead of making up all these rules, everyone should just pick their own cupcake…”

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