7 Exploring Visual and aesthetic dimensions boards and pens to “draw what we see.” This is a very new experience; the children know they can draw people, and so many of the children draw people, even though they can’t actually see them in the glass. This causes Sue (a work colleague) and I to reflect and consider what to do next. We are able to return to the same situation the following day, but this time we provide paper with a large black circle drawn on it. The same clipboards and pens are available. We observe the children really focusing on what they can see inside the perimeter of the magnifying glasses. One child even draws the lines between the bricks, and another takes the large freestanding magnifying glass to where other children have drawn with chalk and records what she observes there. Of course, many children also notice the tiny hickory nuts and wispy sweet-smelling flowers we have intended them to focus on. We have encouraged the children to see. ConCEnTrATE on orDEr, bEAUTy AnD lIghT A wonderful range of paper, pens, pastels, watercolors, thick paint, thick and thin brushes, glitter, glue, boxes and fabric pieces are a great place to begin, but unless supplies are presented in ways that invite exploration, or in ways that encourage children to see and find materials, we are not really providing for the development of creative potential. When you go shopping in the supermarket and are assailed by the disorganized arrangement of the products and the advertising, you know how easy it is to come home with a can of crushed tomatoes instead of a can of pureed! It must be like that for the children sometimes. They see this and reach for it, but their hand picks up something else, or they just can’t see for the clutter. Kirrily (a colleague) tells me that she arranged the crayons and pastels into their color “families” in some small upright containers and suddenly noticed how the children began to explore color. I cover a table with a thick black velvet cloth underneath some tiny easels (made using book or plate stands) with onionskin paper attached to a black covered clipboard with small clip. We add a plate with small glasses and fine brushes for watercolors for each easel/child space on top. We notice how readily the children are drawn to the area and how they concentrate on their work, returning again and again to the experience. The richness of the cloth, the contrast of the white paper against the clipboard and table covering, the thrill of using beauti- ful glasses to hold the colors and the richness of the magenta and the company of friends is irresistible! We find containers for the playdough and present the equipment we think the children will need or they have suggested they would like in small baskets on a shelf nearby. The table is left empty; the children respond to the space, bringing the dough, cellophane, matchsticks and hickory nuts that they need to the table so they can express an idea. Like a blank canvas, it was an open invitation for children to enjoy and create. If we keep this image of a blank canvas alive, we can more easily move toward a more open-ended and creative environment. VOC_FINAL.indd 7 5/17/10 4:22:16 PM