Saturday, July 31, 2010

How to make a 'building block'

'How to make a building block' was a cooperation between two students. "L", a 4 year-old boy from the afternoon class created instructions for "M", a 3-year-old boy from the morning class. I worked with a team that included teachers and the studio coordinator to help me design this experience.


L and M were two boys who were very interested in the block area. As a challenge, I asked L if he would like to design a structure for someone in the morning class. L agreed. We went next door to an empty classroom to a corner where blocks of various sizes were located. L built a structure he dubbed a 'Building Block.'

Above is a photo of L drawing a picture of his structure

Here is his drawing of the Building Block:

After L finished, I challenged him to give M instructions on how to build the Building Block. It was a time-consuming process. I pretended I was M and L had to tell me how to build it step-by-step. We started by gathering the materials we needed, and then he told me what to do.

Photo of the materials minus the little triangle, which he added later.

When his instructions were too vague I deliberately built it incorrectly so he would have to rethink and revise his instructions. It sometimes took up to 5 tries before we were both satisfied with the final instructions.

Below are L's final instructions for M which I typed up for a parent presentation:

Later, M created L's Building Block relying heavily on the drawing. When it still proved too difficult for M, I showed him the photos I took of L's structure.

 Below is a photo of the documentation board we created to make their experience visible; it includes photos of M following L's instructions:

Next I asked M if he would like to reciprocate, and build something for L. He chose to build a 'Kitchen'. I photographed M building his structure step-by-step since verbalizing instructions had become too frustrating for him.

Here is a photo of M drawing a picture of his Kitchen for L.  

and here is Ms drawing of his Kitchen:

L then built M's kitchen based on the photos.

This project was one of the first Reggio-Inspired projects I did with the children. I lost photos, words, and pictures over time. I now know to keep photocopies of the children's work and their words in safe places so I can tell a more complete story.

The end! 

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