This March, Marshall Anderson, Kindergarten teacher; Laura Pereira, Art Specialist; and Karen Salter, Music Specialist presented at a RINM Saturday Gathering.

Their presentation titled Creativity, Collaboration, and The Arts explored how their collaboration deepens their children’s learning, and how their collaboration deepens and energizes their practice as teachers.

  • What language embodies the spirit of collaboration?
  • What does collaboration feel, sound and look like in your setting?

“We know from research that the brain’s weakest function is the retention of isolated bits of data. Its strongest function is the retention of pattern, narrative, story and system. The brain is a patterning organ, and it thrives on making connections.”

– Parker Palmer

The Arts and Insects

Each year, Laura collaborates with teachers from first and second grade to focus on the natural world, and on insects in particular. Through collaboration, this project evolves each year depending on the children’s responses.

The children explore insects from many different perspectives and using multiple media:

  • observing insects outside
  • looking at pinned insects in a science lab
  • writing about how they have interacted with insects in their lives
  • painting watercolors of insects
  • making 3-D insects out of found materials
  • sharing their knowledge with their older buddy

The children reflect on these questions:
“What do artists and scientists have in common?”
“How can viewing an object from the perspective of an artist help scientific understanding?”

“Artists and scientists both observe, experiment, and discover things,”
Lola, 1st grade

“What did you discover? How can you use these discoveries in your paintings?”
“What parts exist on real insects?”
“Can you create an imaginary insect that uses real insect parts?”
“How can you use found materials to imitate nature?”

Children make deeper meaning when they examine a subject from many different perspectives, in many different ways. The arts provide space for deeper thought, creativity and engagement throughout a curriculum.

“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. We must widen the range of topics and goals, the types of situations we offer and their degree of structure, the kinds and combinations of resources and materials, and the possible interactions with things, peers, and adults.”

– Loris Malaguzi