How do we encourage engagement in the studio?

How do we encourage engagement in the studio?

Using materials accurately creates opportunities and mental and emotional space for a genuine creation process for each child. This means you need not put too much on table centers – only the minimum required.

Less is more.

This table and the one above were suggested in a kindergarten, as we noticed that the children were interested in connecting things.

But, for the most part, teachers are afraid of children’s boredom that will blow up a lesson and, therefore, sometimes, unconsciously assume that if they suggest a lot of materials, the children will find something to choose from.

I found that suggesting too much creates overstimulation and restlessness in a choice-based process. It conveys a non-verbal message that I actually don’t trust you, and therefore I give you props to support you.

Every material and tool on studio tables has a language and meaning. They have gone through your sieve of questions and answers: why do I choose this material today? How is it connected to my observations?

The more accurate your choice is, the deeper the child will dive into the process.

nona orbach, the good enough studio, children creating,

How do you collect observations?

You need to understand the emotional, cognitive, technical, and social aspects of each medium. For example, you probably noticed that pencils are more cognitive material, and wet paint is more emotional—[you can find a useful description of 17 basic materials in The Spirit of Matter PDF].

There is also repetition in the choice of materials and specific actions done with them by each student. I am looking for the Spiritual Blueprint of each creator in the studio. I document.

Here are also examples of helpful questions that are tools to stimulate and challenge your students. You will notice that limiting conditions are encouraging. Children love to invent and show they can find a way to use your suggestions. They usually feel joyful and curious as they immerse themselves in challenges. Humor helps a lot here!

  • What else can you do with this material?
  • Perhaps you can try to work with only two colors instead of five?
  • Let’s flip the painting over and see if you see it differently now. Go from here.
  • Glew another paper on the right[ left, bottom…] and see what will happen to your work now. How will you manage this format now?  
  • Enlarge a small part of the painting into a huge artwork.
  • Go back to an old painting from your folder – create a series of that idea. 
  • Media transitions: make a huge drawing from your tiny plasticine sculpture while standing.
  • “Translate” pencil artwork to charcoal artwork, then to watercolors, to a sculpture, to dance, to a text.

Please share how this post assisted you.

More about my work in The Good Enough Studio book.

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