Wacky Wednesday, by Dr. Seuss, inspired our creative fun today. — Shoes on the wall, on the ceiling and under the bed. Worms chasing birds. Hoses, while split, still watering the lawn. — My students giggled, and eagerly shared each wacky thing they noticed.
They didn’t want to stop, but I told them “We must! I want you to have plenty of time to have your own wacky Wednesday fun!”
They were not immediately convinced. But, I assured them we would keep the book in our library, and they could read it as much as they wanted. Finally, they relented and moved to the chairs I had prepared.
I reminded them of our time together in yoga, when I invite them to take off their shoes and socks. “Now,” I said, “I’m not going to invite you to take off your shoes and socks. I’m going to tell you to take them off. We cannot do our wacky Wednesday creative fun unless you take them off.” Giggles and talking increased as they hurried to their cubbies and back again — with feet bared!
Paper was taped to the floor in front of each chair. Plastic egg cartons filled with paint, rested on paper towels. I encouraged them to guess what we might be doing.
“We’re going to paint with our feet!” … “Yes,” I said, “but how?”
“We’ll stick our feet in the paint!” … “Good guess, but no. We’re actually going to use a paint brush.”
“We’ll paint our feet and put them on the paper!” …”OH! Great idea, but no.”
“We’ll paint our toe nails!” … “That would be fun, but not today.”
They continued guessing, each building on the next. They were doing a lovely job thinking divergently. They showed some fluency, flexibility, and elaboration – each idea building upon the ones that came before, informed by my responses.
Finally, nearly jumping out of her chair, R. said “I know! We’re going to hold the paintbrush in our toes!!!!!” …. “YES!”
Laughter and conversation erupted in the room – making it nearly impossible for me to speak and be heard. I encouraged their enthusiasm, but asked them to do try to stay quiet until we began. They contained themselves, as best as they could, and after some brief instruction and encouragement, they began.
Some jumped in with both feet — pun-intended, lol — and used their toes to grip their pencil, and write their name.
When M. finished writing she said, “That was hard. And it doesn’t look very good. It’s messy.” … “No way!” I replied. “That’s fantastic! You did that with your toes! How awesome is that?”
Was it as good as she could do with her fingers? No. But did that matter? Was that the right criterion to use to evaluate it? No! Her process and product were remarkable. She gripped the pencil with her toes. Figured out how to create each letter in her name, and wrote them in a rather straight line! Perhaps most importantly, she showed great initiative, courage, and grit, and I wanted to acknowledge that for her.
Everyone joined in the fun — even me. My students were enthusiastic and joy-filled painters — quite willing to try, and try again.
I was surprised by my reaction to the experience. It was hard! Hard to hold the paintbrush. Hard to figure out how to dip it in the paint. Hard to guide it on the paper. Just hard!
I did it, but I didn’t enter into the experience like they did. I think their were multiple reasons why. Each is worthy of my thought, consideration and remembering as I continue to work with my students, and for my own growth as a creative and an educator.
Here are some of the things I noticed:
- My support of my students — in word and presence — is powerful.
- Time to practice and play with the tools and process before beginning is important.
- Embracing positive thoughts about ourselves as artists and learners is essential.
- Adopting the joy, freedom and openness of a beginner’s mind is helpful.
My students often return the favor and support me with their word and presence. Today I didn’t have the opportunity to allow them to support me. I also didn’t have the time to practice and experiment before beginning. But perhaps most interesting to me, unlike my students, I didn’t immediately embrace positive thoughts about myself or my process, and I didn’t adopt the the joy, freedom and openness of the beginner’s mind.
I can learn so much from my students. They are truly fantabulous!