“Ms. Sheila, look at our Thanksgiving decorations!” These were the excited exclamations of the children in our afterschool program when I stopped in to say hi last week. Scattered throughout the room were what appeared to be scraps of paper of varying shapes and sizes. Some of these decorations were covered in clearly recognizable drawings, others colorfully designed, and still others with nary a scribble. The creator of each was proud, and, when asked to tell me about their creation, would say, in one form or another, that they were making Thanksgiving beautiful (one friend was working on Sukkot).
In all of these decorations, there wasn’t a single turkey, cornucopia, pumpkin, or even a thought to the use of a fall color palate. As a matter of fact, to my blind eye, one of their decorations looked exactly like a uterus. I had to stifle my adult laughter. So what made them Thanksgiving decorations? The artists made them Thanksgiving decorations!
These children have spent the past few weeks working hard to learn songs for Thanksgiving, hearing the story and stories of gratitude, and, yes, making traditional decorations for Thanksgiving. These lessons have naturally transferred into their innate artistic expression. During their free play time they chose to create process art inspired by their lessons, like the Thanksgiving decorations hanging around the afterschool program classroom. This art comes directly from ever busy thinking and growing minds, exploring limitless possibilities.
As adults, it is natural to look for an order to things, to ask, “What is it?” when presented with a work of art. Children will often give you an answer, even if that wasn’t their original intention. Check out The Hidden Meaning of Kids’ Shapes and Scribbles from The Atlantic to see what science suggests.
Children are natural artists. They will design and create with almost anything. This week our artists created Thanksgiving decorations. They are fabulous. All of them. The ones with discernible designs and the ones that leave us wondering. I can’t wait to see what they scribble, cut, paste, sculpt, paint, mold, assemble, draw, collage, and think up next!