Monday, 15 September 2014

Moments of Magic


I have just finished teaching one of my favourite classes of the year.

As part of the Expressive Arts Program here at ISB, I teach Grade 1 and right now we are just starting of the program for this year. It's week two and last week I introduced students to the class and to their first foray into Expressive arts, by giving out objects and asking them to describe how they feel. I use a pillow, a large tin pot, a rope, a big pipe-cleaner and a silver Christmas tree bauble. It's a key part for me in building their understanding of performing arts, and allows us to start thinking about the world around us and how to present that on stage.

In this week's session, I start by asking students to pass around the objects again, but this time with a catch- I didn't bring the objects. Well, more accurately I did bring objects, (and I really ham up the roleplaying of this) I just brought along imaginary objects. I show them where they are in the room and one by one I bring them over to the group. We then pass them around just as before but this time using our bodies/hands/eyes/voices and most importantly our imaginations to bring them to life. Instantly kids get it and with out much encouragement they already start acting- struggling when the tin pot is heavy and laughing when the pipe-cleaner tickles.

But all this is just building to the next part, which I love, when I tell them I brought them all a gift. I make a big show out of picking up the pile of imaginary silver balls I brought (each one the size of a ping pong ball), ask them to hold their hands out and then one-by-one I hand them out. I then explain why I have given them this special gift and how it can be used. 'This ball is not just any ball,' I say. 'It's a magic, imagination ball! Because you can do this with it-'  Then I pantomime molding and expanding the ball into the shape of a bird, I add the details of the beak and wings with my finger tips, then I stroke its head to show the shape and then while the kids are still working out what I'm making I say " Watch! and you'll see what it is!' and I give a little push and let the bird 'fly' around the room, dipping over their heads until it finally lands back in my hand. Instantly the kids understand what I just did and what they are also capable of, so I almost struggle to calm them down enough to give them a chance to do it themselves. They start inventing and creating straight away with their own magic ball.

The class then organically turns into an opportunity to explore the (lack of ) limits of imagination. So after a couple of minutes of students experimenting in their own space, I bring students together for their first presentation in front of the rest of the class (an audience) and each student shows what they can turn their ball into. As an audience we try and guess what it is.

But even with all these learning encounters, and the explosion of creativity that ensues (today I saw a dog in a doghouse being given a bone, a boy smashing a ball with a tennis racket, a girl with her own personal rainbow, and a whole load of other things too), the best part of this class is the end. When I tell students that they can keep the ball, on the condition they remember to bring it with them next week. They are almost surprised that I say they can have it and as they leave the room every student is bursting with ideas, desperate to share it with their friend and to make something with their imagination!

"Look I made a bike!!"
"I've got a lollipop!"
"Mine's a pair of earrings!'

- magic!


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