Re: Collaborative Kindergarden

Yesterday, I observed art classes at a bilingual elementary school in Arlington,VA. One of the classes I observed was a kindergarden class who was making large backdrops for the school's Spring Arts Festival. The students were all gathered around two large pieces of paper on the floor and everyone was painting on the paper. It was amazing to see such young students being able to use the materials (paints, brushes, etc.) responsibly and also to work together successfully to produce collective works of art. From a developmental standpoint, even the concept of sharing a tangible physical object, let alone creative space or a creative product, is challenging for young children. There were a couple squeals and protests of "hey, you can't paint on/over my picture" but for the most part they worked together remarkably well. This probably isn't collaboration in the traditional sense. There was no over-arching strategy for creating a cohesive final project and the majority of the students simply worked on their own drawings side by side. However, I thought the idea of students sharing a large piece of paper (in a sense a common creative space) was pretty innovative and something that I would like to use in my future classroom. I saw it as a warm-up for future collaborative activity. If you get used to the idea of sharing paper when you are young then, later, sharing thoughts and ideas to create works of art somehow seems more natural.

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