Think about these phrases: “The chalk marked child’s finger. The fabric hugged the child’s whole upper body. The paint left a mark on the brush’s texture on a flat white paper. The clay invited the child to squish, pound, and poke.” All these phrases have one thing in common, all these materials are doing, acting, and inviting the other. These are artistic materials. Artistic materials are materials that are used during artistic moments. Humans can be artistic materials as we are involved, and materials invite us to collaborate.
Children’s artistic moments
When we view children’s artistic moments during explorations as material perspectives, we will be able to see how these artistic gatherings collaborate. Not only how a child draws or dances, but we are also able to see from the material’s perspective which will give more meaning and value to the exploration. It won’t be child-centered or human-centered exploration as BC Early Learning Framework proposes, it is about living with others and all world relations. Also, we can inquire with deeper questions and comments during the explorations which can develop into a long-term project. The article by Pacini-Ketchabaw et al. (2014) suggests that “[materials] can evoke memories, narrate stories, invite actions, and communicate meanings” (p. 1). The authors continue to question readers to shift their thoughts on materials during explorations. The key question that helps us to shift our thinking is: “How we might experience materials differently if we acknowledge them as joint participants in our interactions with them?” (p. 1).
We have far too many materials available for us. One kind of material is using our own body and this can be enough to start. Giving meaning, instructions, and life to materials will bring wonderous questions and ideas to children. They are naturally invited from the materials. Children often get to dramatic play with materials such as sticks and mud. They are natural in giving characters and personalities to the materials. By joining these plays, educators can feel all senses on how materials are playing an important role. The author explains multiple times about materials giving things to the children and the educators. We all have a story to tell even when we don’t even have to touch the material or visibly see the material. Even by thinking about a material, we have a story to tell. That is the power of materials. It sparks conversation, relationships, and collaborative ideas to start the artistic journey. Having these moments, conversations, and artifacts into the pedagogical documentation, will be worthwhile and it will support to connect and weave through the child, educator, families, and the communities.
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Kind, S., and Kocher, L. (2014). Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education. New York: Routledge.