3 Exploring Visual and aesthetic dimensions Leonard spreads long blocks on the floor, piling them on top of each other to create a pattern; it’s a kind of spiral, I think to myself. “It’s a spider’s web,” he tells me. He is using his graphic language; he is recording like any scientist what he has seen in the garden. An adult visitor seeing him with clipboard and pen, magnifying glass in hand and looking closely at a leaf-curling spider hiding in one of the bushes is told, “I’m doing research.” “That’s the hospital,” Connor tells us. He has used blocks and roadways to cre- ate a city with several other children. Houses are added to the playscape and then a much taller building. He has been to the hospital recently to visit a sick relative. We notice the number of roundabouts in the road design and realize he is very knowledgeable about the hospital’s location! When we pause to listen and reflect, we quite often find that children are informed about a great many things, sometimes surprisingly so! In recent years five young men were tragically killed at a railroad crossing nearby. I see Max building a train track and adding some of the roadways we recently bought. David stands watching and then collects some “fence” pieces from the block cupboard and adds them beside the track where the road crosses it. David drives some cars along the road, and Max a train along the track. “Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding,” says David and lowers the fence across the road to stop the cars. He has placed a pedestrian close by, whom he also brings to a stop. After the train leaves, he lifts the barrier, and the car and pedestrian cross safely. I comment to him about his great idea. “You don’t want to drive into a train, or you end up dead,” he told me. I almost miss the significance of the line drawn down the middle of the grand- father’s chest one morning, until I think for just a couple of extra moments and remember that Catherine’s grandfather recently had coronary bypass surgery. Sometimes in our fast-paced lives we find it difficult to wait and listen just that extra moment or two. Congratulate yourself on those times you manage it; it’s worth acknowledging. Sinead brings two large wild green orangelike objects, round and hard with a lumpy surface, to the preschool. Her mother sent them in a small wooden box lined with purple silk and a small pink rose —an invitation, I realize, for the children to investigate the aesthetics and reality of the inedible fruit. I am eager to make the most of her invitation. I place the fruit and flower on a wooden fruit stand and make sure the watercolors (in small glasses with fine brushes) are the best colors available. I add some pastels in case they are needed and some black pens. The white paper against the white-topped table is not appealing, so we quickly cut some small pieces of litho paper, turn them rough side up and frame them on light brown stories and examples from the classroom VOC_FINAL.indd 3 5/17/10 4:22:10 PM