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In the Classroom: The Rainbows

written by Lead Teacher Joanne Browley


The Process is the Product

On one of our breezy fall mornings, the Rainbows ran back and forth filling a bag full of leaves. We categorized them as small, medium, or large and named the various colors of brown, red, purple, green or yellow. 
Bringing the leaves into our class the teachers put some in the sensory table and some on a table inviting the children to glue them onto paper.
After nap a small group of four children came over. The table was all ready for them and they repeatedly pasted, brushed, palmed and squished glue onto the paper or on the leaf. No one was interested in actually using glue to adhere the leaves to make what I had in mind--a natural art piece with lovely red, yellow, green, brown and purple leaves.
All four children were productively absorbed in the process of working with the glue. They showed interest in the adhesiveness to their fingers and the material's ease to spread across the paper with their paint brushes or fingers. I recalled the phrase “It’s the process not the product.” Or my new favorite, according to Ann Lewin-Benham in her book Infants & Toddlers AT WORK, “The process is the product.”
Lewin-Benham further discussed how children train their brains, framing complex tasks into isolated parts allowing them to attend and master developing skills. My approach to this project shifted to just working with glue.
Putting this knowledge into practice turned into 50 minutes of attention building. Rainbows mixed water colors into the glue creating various colors, they then chose the colors they wanted to work with and worked for as long as they wanted with one material--glue.
Teachers purposefully watched for other opportunities to break up complex tasks into smaller parts. The Rainbows slowed down the process of working with water colors and glue, thinking about the colors they wanted to use next, brushing their paintbrushes in the palette, then onto their paper. 
Next, we will work with scissors. Opening and closing first then as the older toddlers are ready to take on the challenge of cutting we will add textured papers.  Adding to their prior knowledge and experience (schemas) with glue, we will offer working with glue out of various sizes of squeezable bottles such as contact lenses bottles, condiments bottles, and chef squeeze bottles. 
We look forward to observing how the Rainbows work with the materials, build attention, and master more complex tasks.