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
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
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
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