The open road. The opening lines of Upton Sinclair's novel, Oil, captures that feeling of flying/riding along an open road and the joy of going. The road ran, smooth and flawless, precisely fourteen feed wide, the edges trimmed as if by shears, a ribbon of grey concrete, rolled out over the valley by a giant hand. The ground went in long waves, a slow ascent and then a sudden dip; you climbed, and went swiftly over--but you had no fear, for you know the magic ribbon would be there, clear of obstructions, unmarred by bump or scar, waiting the passage of inflated rubber wheels revolving seven times a second. The cold wind of morning whistled by, a storm of motion, a humming and roaring with ever-shifting overtones; but you sat snug behind a tilted windshield, which slid the gale up over your head. Sometimes you liked to put your hand up, and feel the cold impact; sometimes you would peer around the side of the shield, and let the torrent hit your forehead, and toss your hair about.
This is certainly not a book report, rather it is a discussion about connections, connections to each other and connections that may lead us to a favorite destination. While the Sense of Self portion of our curriculum, which kicks in during the second half the prekindergarten year is now entering its 5th year, the Sense of Place unit is still fresh, only 2 years old! It is still open for exploration which makes perfect sense. Place equals exploration.
Every pre-k year starts off with exploration. New friends, new hours, news days. It tumbles and rolls all the way to the following Summer and then the big "K" -- kindergarten. We help the children and their parents enjoy this last year of "babyhood" and at the same time, get them ready for that next big step. The Sense of Place unit we have crafted is able to help us with this immensely, perhaps in terms of "academics" and facts-gathered, even more than its "sister" unit. It is about the world where we live, beginning with heart and home, neighborhood, city, and this year, the planet. It is social studies-focused, and of course, as with all our work at our school, expressed through drama, music, movement, and visual art.
For this entry, I ask that you "travel through" with us and view the stunning, visual celebration of this unit. The More Photos option above will bring you to a photo collection, Sense of Place, Destinations. Before you do though, let me share this...The unit took on a life of its own because we had access to an incredible source of inspiration, the Guillermo Kuitca Everything exhibit at the Hirshhorn in Washington, D.C. Here the children saw the power of collected works, of lines, roads, maps -- the art form that connects us to each other. There are no photos of the children inside the museum (no cameras allowed), but I can assure you the children were as inspired as I was.
Then, as so often happens with lightning strike inspiration, the day after the kids began naming their works of art, Wired Science shared their favorite images "from the USGS' Earth as Art collection in this gallery, which will take you on a tour of the world from the glaciers of Antarctica to the deserts of Algeria." After viewing these, the children returned to naming and then once collected on the wall, we see our own images of our planet, at night, with the lights flickering, welcoming us home to each other.
Please enjoy the result, the visual power of ideas expressed through art.