Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Heartfelt H

I am teaching tomorrow, a lesson I've never taught before.  I'm teaching the letter H.

Tomorrow I will be demonstrating the craft, where the children will cut out the letter H and decorate it with Hearts.  I prepped for the lesson today by designing my template H (harder than it sounds), cutting it out, and tracing it on 15 pieces of construction paper.  I also watched my mentor teacher with an eagle eye while she demonstrated today's craft.  I noticed how she reminded them of routines, including putting their name stick in the jar to show they had completed the craft and writing their name on the paper before beginning the activity.  These are reminders I hope I don't forget tomorrow.

Then she modeled the construction of the houses that the children would create today.  Like any composition, the children had to plan ahead, visualizing their homes in their minds and selecting roofs, doors, and windows in the appropriate colors.  This type of planning is something I have noticed each day during the craft activity, which I have come to think of as "composition" time.  The teachers help the children plan ahead and select the tools that will help them create their final products.

While my mentor glued her own house together, talking aloud her decisions, I wondered whether she would keep the product she was creating.  Would she save it to show the students next year?  Would it serve as a model, a sample product for the same lesson?  I realized, however, that a model product wouldn't be needed in future lessons.  What the mentor teacher was demonstrating for these young writers was process, not product, and no matter how many houses she might have filed away from years past, next year, she will make another.  How can I, as a teacher of writing, take this realization into my own classroom?  Is it enough simply to write with my students and to model my own process and share my products?

I will continue to ponder these questions as I work with my teacher-ed students this semester.  Tomorrow, however, I will embrace the process, showing my preschoolers how to compose a heartfelt H.  Maybe I'll suggest that they make them symmetrical...


  1. Process is when materials are offered with no adult sample to copy. Product is when an adult models what the child should make. I think you are talking about a combination where the adult modeled sample is offered, but the kids are allowed to move off that directive and modify with their own ideas.

    Would it be fun if instead of modeling the house to make, the teacher would provide a wealth of materials from styrofoam blocks to construction paper scraps, and see what comes of the houses kids might invent? That would be an exciting process.

    The fact that the activity is called "Craft" tells you it is not art. Craft is fine, but art must be included in a child's learning experiences so they learn to trust their own creativity and delve deeply into possibility. Give art a try! It so very very exciting to watch kids create freely with the stimulus of the learning going on in the classroom.


  2. And for the letter H, certainly offer an H... maybe offer several different kinds of H's from different materials... and see what happens if not only hearts but hats and humans and horses are included in some way. Expand the process...

    Your H and Heart "craft" is still a good one. I'm simply mentioning how to expand creativity and inventive thinking into the experience... the process!