The 2019 Guidecraft catalog cover An art experience using All About Me, Block Play People to connect children from around the world
In collaboration with the World Forum Foundation and 30 preschools from around the world, we are pleased to present All About Me: Block Play people, an art activity that connected children, block play, and the 2019 World Forum participants in a sharing and collaborative project using wooden block shapes as a physical metaphor for self and identity.
Participating schools received a gift of wooden block pieces and teacher guidelines to help facilitate the art activity, which encouraged children to draw themselves, family members, and friends on the pieces of wood. Afterwards children were encouraged to use their self-portraits in the block play area. The children’s artwork was screened on blocks and gifted to the participants of the 2019 World Forum in Macao, China in April, 2019.
All About Me, Block Play People Art Activity
Objective: Young children are both figurative and pre-figurative. Teaching self-portraits is a wonderful way to learn about shapes, line, forms, ratios, balance, symmetry, and, to begin to understand concept such as observation, analysis and identity. In this activity, children will create self-portraits on wooden blocks, which then can be used in the block play area to connect the idea of self-identity with constructivist play.
Supplies: All you need are drawing tools (i.e., markers, pencils) and index-sized paper. The beautiful wooden blocks are delivered to your center’s doorsteps ready to unpack and enjoy for years to come.
Invite a small group of children to join you for a discussion about the art activity. Once the children are feeling comfortable and relaxed, start asking questions relative to the activity, such as “What do you look like?” Give them time to carefully answer. Ask them to look at each other as well.
What make their features special versus someone else? Ask them to feel their own face, hair, eyes, ears, and nose. Ask them “How many eyes do you have? Do we have a nose? How many? A mouth? Do you have teeth too? What does your hair look and feel like?” You can use mirrors for this exercise, or let children explore themselves through both tactile and visual exploration.
Invite the children to stand up and move their bodies, then continue to ask questions. What shape is my head? What does my head rest on? What shape is my torso, my arms, legs, hands, fingers? What are we wearing? Pants, a dress, fancy shoes, slippers, a hat? Encourage as much detail as possible through observation and analysis.
Ask the children what shapes make up their bodies. Example: a circle for our head, a rectangle or triangle for our torso, smaller rectangles or lines for our arms and legs, and little shapes – ovals, for our hands and feet.
Now we are ready to draw!
To begin, ask the children to first create their portraits with pencil or markers on the index cards, or paper that’s cut to roughly the same size as the blocks. When drawing, ask the students to first start with their head, then bring up the previous discussion: what shape is your head, do you have eyes, a nose, does your head have a neck, a body? Who will they draw besides themselves? Encourage children to draw other important people in their lives.
Once the students have created their drawings on paper, ask them to pick out a wooden block that they think would be good to use for their block play portrait. Ask them to look closely at the blocks. Are they all the same size? The same materials? Can they find one that’s shorter or taller, thinner or wider? Discuss the concepts of vertical and horizontal. Show them by holding it in your hand. What direction will the block be when they create their drawing? Where do we start a drawing?
When the children are ready to draw on their blocks, ask them to pick markers for their drawing. Have paper or placemats underneath the blocks to protect the tabletop.
Additional ideas for self-portraits include providing floor mirrors for children to observe their entire body, observing each other, or using small tabletop mirrors to study their features.
Once finished, invite children to place their artwork in the block play area where they can build an imagined world with their very own block people!
Participating Preschools Thank you to these participating preschools from around the world:
- Koobara Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kindergarten
- St Peters Preschool
- Paro College of Education
- Children’s Choice Child Development Center
- Kingbaby Preschool, Kunming
- Peach Kindergarten
- U & I International Kindergarten, Nanjing
- Tops Day Nurseries
- Early Learning Center Fiji
- Child Ghana Resource Institute
- Mehraeen Preschool and Kindergarten
- Bottega di Geppetto
- Istituto degli Innocenti di Firenze
- British Playhouse Nursery
- New Shoots
- Waikato Kindergarten Association
- Maria’s Preschool
- The Pre-School and Basic Education Directorate
- Baanploypoom Kindergarten
- Calvin Hill Day Care
- Dimensions Education Programs
- Garfield Early Childhood Learning Center
- Homewood Early Learning Center at Johns Hopkins
- Irvine Nature Center
- Kids Country
- Messiah Moravian Preschool
- Colegio y Liceo San Juan Bautista
Special thanks to:
- Community Playthings for the invitation to participate in the World Forum gift
- Sandra Duncan for editing, writing and guiding the creation of the art experience
- Heidi Lanino for shaping, documenting and teaching the first art experience
- The World Forum for sharing their schools and contacts and time and efforts to see this project through to fruition