Story ChairThu, 20th Apr 2017
The Story Chair
Don't you just love the treasures you find on the side of the road? I'm sure all kindergarten teachers delight at piles of what others see as rubbish!...We see it from a distance with eyes almost popping out of our heads!, make a detour if we have to, slow down, pull up beside it and hone in on these divine free delights... the possibilities! All we care about is if we have space in our boot at the time to fill it with these treasures, and if we don't... we'll make room!
Anyway, I found this country style dining chair in perfect condition and knew I had to have it for our room!
An idea popped into my head that I would invite children to draw on it to make it theirs; a special piece of furniture with their art on it!
I gave it a quick sand and a coat of white paint prepared it as a blank canvas.
At first, I thought they could draw what ever they liked on it just for decoration.
We left it white for the first few weeks as we settled into the new year. As the term progressed, the group became very curious about the caterpillars they were finding in the garden.
During our investigations of caterpillars, butterflies and other creatures, the opportunity arose to illustrate the chair with these investigations as our topic. We used 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' books vivid illustrations as inspiration. (Of course we discussed the rights and wrongs of drawing on just any furniture! They had permission to draw on this special chair).
The children were very enthusiastic about this idea. This group just loves this book and we've used it as a provocation for many areas in our learning program.
Children delighted in drawing on different parts of the chair. A big fat caterpillar is drawn along the back of the chair, a beautiful butterfly sits on the seat of the chair; grass is squiggled along the footrest. They persevered in drawing their cupcakes and cocoons on hard to reach parts of the chair. What a great opportunity for drawing on varied and vertical surfaces!
'The Very hungry caterpillar' is just one story. We talked about how there are may stories in our world around us and everyone's got a story to tell.
A child said,"it's like a Story Chair"... What an insightful description! Our role as educators is to give young children opportunities to express their understandings of what they know in the world around them, to listen to them and to value them.
We love this child's idea of a 'story chair'. We use the chair in our room for children to tell their stories. They have a choice to use a picture book and make up a story about it or they can 'tell' us a story from imagination. Those that are ready absolutely love it when it's their turn to sit on the 'story chair'. Everyone else is encouraged to listen...and they do!
I love that we gave the children an opportunity to create something, to work together, to share and co operate, to engage in constructive dialogue. They stuck to the topic and negotiated with each other about what other drawings the chair needed.
It is the children that continue to open our eyes to the complexity in young children's learning. It shows us that a classroom can be a place where children work towards a common shared goal. The chair has become so much more that just a decorative chair re purposed from the side of the road.
We've only just begun telling and sharing our stories as a group. I think this will evolve into other opportunities that will link in with literacy, communication & identity. Perhaps some story writing/drawing, making our own books...the possibilities! It's an open ended invitation for learning within our context. I wonder how many stories the chair will hold now that it's been given a new life and meaning.
We invite others in our community to sit on our story chair. The local librarian recently visited and the children showed her our chair. She was invited to sit on it as she read them her collection of books!
Of course, our story chair transforms into 'the birthday chair' when we celebrate each child's special day.
We put a 'birthday' fabric cloth over it that's decorated with cupcakes and candles to make the transformation.
Creating an invitation to tell their stories is a wonderful opportunity for children to gain confidence in speaking on front of others, listening to others, extending on language, appreciating and accepting others for who they are and all abilities.
We used posca pens for the drawings. (I then varnished the chair for protection against wear and tear).