Preschool and Kindergarten
Since day one recycling has always been a priority for us at North Star Montessori Preschool and Kindergarten. We have recycle bins right next to our art area where even our youngest three year old children easily learn to sort what materials go in recycling and remember to carefully place them in the appropriate bins. Children also know that they are free to choose things from these bins as they design and work on their own projects. Children are instinctively resourceful and never tire of connecting the new parts they find, each a unique treasure, to the artistic vision in their heads. Some favorite recycled materials you will find on our shelves and in our bins are plastic bottle caps and apple sauce twirly twist offs, twigs, acorns, and leaves gathered from our playard, cardboard boxes from lunchables, tissue boxes, bits of fabric, colorful candy wrappers, and a variety of paper scraps.
Using bits and pieces of raw materials children use their imaginations to create art. At North Star our art shelves have a variety of odds and ends in baskets and trays that children choose as they create their own masterpieces. What others may see as junk we covet. Plastic lids and tops off lunchbox drinks become colorful fish and bright round orange and yellow suns. Little fingers dig through our construction paper scrap baskets finding each size and color to form an ocean of light and dark blue waves layered one atop another. The child’s creative process unfolds onto their paper and they are eager to share and talk about what they have created with their friends, teachers and parents. This time it is an ocean collage next time we can only anticipate what the children will create with their newfound treasures.
We find something beautiful in the ordinary and as we reuse It takes on a life of its own. Because children always have access to art materials during their work time they routinely choose to create their own art. At our large wooden tables children use mats to designate their work space, gather crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue sticks as well as collage materials on their own and sit down to concentrate on their projects. Many times, more than one child will choose to do art and as they sit at the same table they will talk to each other about their creations, help each other with techniques, and share their ideas and tools. Friends work together with great enthusiasm and love to give their finished projects to each other joyfully saying,”I made this for you”.
Having multiage classrooms in our 3-6 year old Montessori program lends itself to collaboration and fosters leadership skills. Older children confidently show off their expertise in cutting and pasting as they offer to teach younger students basics they have practiced and learned. Younger students love to receive lessons from their older classmates. They are wonderful role models who gently guide and inspire as they work side by side using the ordinary to create their own extraordinary art. We hope you can also find something beautiful in the ordinary and reuse it and have it take on a life of its own in your art.
By Barbara Barnes
Green Since 2003