"In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it."
Simon Nicholson, Architect
During the first month of school, our goal as educators is to learn more about the students we will be working with over the year. In addition to completing assessments, interviews, and observations of the students during play, we set up a provocation or invitation to learn "about me."
The above invitation to learn, includes circular bases which act as a canvas for creating self-portraits out of loose-parts. Wooden bowls hold various loose-parts such as buttons, gems, yarn and beads, and mirrors are to encourage students to look closely at the various features of their faces. A word wall specific to "self-portraits" and clipboards also help students to add detail to their work and allow them the opportunity to draw and write about what they create. Finally, a book relating to the provocation is added and would be shared during a group read-aloud to offer another way to connect the students to the invitation. Once the provocation is set up, the educator would choose a time in the day to sit and observe what the students do with the materials.
The first student to visit this provocation sat down and looked in the mirror. She then began to place buttons on the circular base. She placed two at the top, side-by-side, another one underneath, and some along the bottom, resembling a face. I asked "What are you making?" The student points to her face with both hands and exclaims "face!" She begins adding buttons around the circle and points to her hair. Upon completion of her self-portrait, the student is invited to draw what she created.
Another students' process was captured on video. This student independently decided "I want to draw what I made" when she finished creating her self-portrait.
If we take time to slow down, observe, and record what students are saying, doing, and representing through purposefully planned play activities, we can learn so much from them and about them!