We began our first project of the year a few weeks ago. Based on my in depth learning of The Project Approach this summer with Lillian Katz and Sylvia Chard, I am implementing several pieces that I had not done previously.
The first difference is that I chose the topic. I wrote an in depth entry in August on the process of choosing a topic. I did, indeed, choose keys.
I began the process of Phase I by putting out several keys that I had collected. Luckily, my dad had been cleaning out his house and when he read my earlier post, he sent me a huge envelope full of various keys.
I put the keys out on a large wooden tray and set them on a low table with magnifying glasses for a week. Children would pause at the table, look at the keys and make observations. One boy even asked how keys were made. Many noticed keys that were similar to those their parents had.
This simple free exploration set the seed for our initial discussion of keys when we did our memory drawings later that week. This is one of the pieces that I have not previously done. I started by sharing a simple story of how I was frustrated by having to drive my husband’s car all week due to mine being in the shop. I kept losing my husband’s car key in my purse. I showed them how his key is a single key and that the key is hidden inside a black holder. They were completely fascinated by the way the key portion popped out when I pressed a button. Then I showed them my car keys with all of the other keys attached plus the key ring bracelet. Then I invited them to share any of their own key stories. We shared a few more. I told them that we couldn’t listen to all of the stories right now, so they were going to sit down at the tables and spend a few minutes drawing their stories and telling them to one of the adults in the room. We spent about a half an hour doing this. Many of the children drew the keys that I had shown them. A few drew about fantasy keys that had powers. And others did draw about their own car or house keys. I sent them home with the idea to talk with their families about keys and see what stories they had.
I would love to hear about any other lessons on memory drawing in the context of starting a project with young children. I am still grappling myself with how successful this portion of the process was for my class.