rECognIzE ThE ImporTAnCE oF InTErACTIons
I will write about what Lilian Katz (1998) tells us about interacting with children—
our conversations instead of directions—in other chapters, but it’s very important in
this context as well. Here is a story to illustrate this point.
Jay scribbles a couple of lines on the page. Last week he started to draw a person when
Sue was with him and coached him, but today on his own, he has taken a shortcut.
The adult returns and comments, “Where are the eyes?” He adds some to his scribble.
“A nose?” He adds that. “A nice big smiling mouth?” He is into the swing by now and
adds this and then some hair, arms, legs and even ears. He is so delighted, and yet
without the adult prompting, asking questions, making some suggestions, taking no-
tice and challenging, he would have settled for the quick scribble. The adult is vitally
important, being careful not to overstep the mark and defeat the child but always
asking about the representation. “Is it a sunny day? I can’t see from your drawing”
or “What is your family doing? Oh, watching the soccer? Well I can’t tell that yet—
perhaps some goal posts would help me see what your drawing is about. That’s better.
Is it raining or a sunny day? Are you hot or is everyone wearing a hat?”
In our efforts not to get in the way of the child’s creativity, I believe we have stepped
too far back. We get in the way of creativity when we take over, when it’s our idea and
our model and the children are asked to recreate our model, but we don’t get in the
way when we ask the right questions or make the best comments. We don’t always
get it right, but we will with practice.
UsE books AnD TAlk AboUT IllUsTrATors
We have the most incredible range of picture books currently available. Artists create
wonderful pieces of art. Each illustrator has a particular style, the large brushstrokes
of some, the fine pencil lines of others, the use of tissue paper or stiff papers by
another and natural materials by another. The children will become aware of this
with your help. Share your insights and listen for theirs.
“Here is another book by Eric Carle. I wonder if this one will have a sun or moon
in it. Shall we look before we read the story, or will we let it sneak up on us as a
“Look at the way the artist makes it look like this cup is shining. He put a tiny dab
of white here on the green, and it makes it look like it’s shining.”
“See how the artist lets us look through the tree at the sky. I wonder if we can see
the sky through the trees outside. Let’s go outside and look.”
“Wow, look at this sun. Many artists paint the sun and they all do different things.
Let’s find a few in our favorite books and see what they do. Is this one hotter, do
you think? She has used a lot of red and orange.”
look AnD look AgAIn
Place interesting objects or illustrations from favorite and recently read books or
prints of a famous painting close to the easel. Some children will use them, and
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