Following the first session with the class, the teacher and I agreed that the as children’s focus and creativity is extremely strong that we asked the children if they would like to spend an entire day doing art. The children all agreed therefore sessions 2 and 3 were facilitated on one day.
We had asked the children and their parents to collect cardboard boxes, including the left over Christmas gift packaging and adding another 8 weeks of shopping we had quite a collection to start our city that the children decided that would like to build during a day long session.
The day started with the tables and chairs moved aside, materials and equipment ready and the children sat in a circle around our cardboard box collection in the middle of the room. We went through our very long list of buildings, requirements, amenities and people needed for our city whilst asking them to consider other elements they may have forgotten. We wanted to encourage the children to think of what is needed for the wider community and the people who live in it and what makes a community good to live in.
The children were invited to work on their own or in small groups. Much to my surprise most of the children formed small groups and taking their supply of boxes they worked together discussing how and what they could build and who could use their building. Sticking, building, negotiating, painting, printing, sculpting, cutting, gluing, drawing, playing and talking, not one child was without an idea for an entire day. It was brilliant to watch and support the children to carry out their ideas. In the middle of the day the children took a break for a half hour dance class during which I built a river with many tributaries and placed roads to mark the city layout in the middle of the classroom.
As the children completed their buildings and the amenities required they placed the buildings around the city. As some buildings expanded, one grew an observatory tower, another a roller coaster, others balconies, gardens, swimming pools other children focused on making traffic lights, cars, bridges, boats and fish for the river and sea. As the day drew to a close the children sat around their city and looked to see if and what they had forgotten. Content with what they had provided for themselves it was the lack of community amenities that they identified as ‘ we need to build next time’ a fire station, a Garda station, bus stops, more schools, a farm, more parks, a church, and of course people.
It was fantastic to watch the ability of the children, the speed and independence in how they are able to work. Thankfully the school has the support of parents who often give their time to school activities therefore our day long session was further supported by the energy of parents.