The children have had a fascination with the moon lately, so we have put a plastic moon in the classroom. The children painted their own moons and the results were incredible! This provocation involved a variety of languages, starting with the Spanish word for moon, and then enhancing the toddler’s investigation by letting the children paint their own moons with white paint onto black paper.
One of the children began using the word “luna”, which inspired Spanish vocabulary in the classroom. This new vocabulary is now beginning to be heard at home.
Having the children paint their own moons served as valuable documentation that revealed the toddler’s competencies by making thinking visible through art. This allowed them to translate their perception of the moon with a paintbrush, white paint, and a blank canvas. We spoke about the texture, the color of the moon and where to find the moon. This discussion led to more questions about what relationships are out in the world and beyond and what theories the children may have.
The dark spots on the moon are craters –remnants of asteroids, comets and meteorites that crashed into the moon. In the children’s rendition of the moon they depicted the moon craters by painting round shapes onto the paper. Some paintings had thick dabs of paint in certain areas resembling (figuratively) basalt, the dense material that fills the craters. The children’s paintings document their understanding of shapes, texture and their ability to apply that knowledge in association to the moon.
Each week the children visit the atelier to reinforce some of the project work happening in the classroom. During one of the sessions the children went outside in the morning hours and sketched the moon. They became very aware of something they could see but not touch. It made them look up and question Earth and space in general. As teachers, we observe and learn with the children, and by sharing observations with the toddlers we are able to construct new possibilities in our environment. According to Italian author and teacher Lella Gandini, “In order to act as an educator for the child, the environment has to be flexible; it must undergo frequent modification by the children and the teachers in order to remain up-to-date and responsive to their needs to be protagonists in constructing their knowledge.”
By pushing our children’s inquiries into different contexts and environments the children develop several ways (languages) to communicate their thoughts. This experience has been extremely beneficial for the toddlers’ development because they are learning to ask questions while gaining new perspectives on conceptual ideas. Having the foundation from painting a tangible plastic moon as a point of reference while incorporating the Spanish translation of moon, then going outdoors to observe the real moon and asking thoughtful questions has encouraged our children’s intellect and creativity to continuously grow!
To read more on how teachers and the environment engage with the children to learn and dive into deeper theories creating rich learning experiences, click here: Journal of Play