The transition between summer vacation and heading back to school can be a tough one. It’s especially tough when you are the new kid coming into a new school, and you don’t know anyone. I saw the grief and the joy that heading off to school evokes in people (especially kindergarteners and their parents!) Last week at the school where I teach we had to keep a group of kids behind because they didn’t have permission to go to the park yet. There were several sets of siblings and students of multiple age levels. I walked around talking with the students, and then settled on the ground to play Pyramid Ten with a student. Then I watched as spontaneous art began to explode before me.
Some of the students started grinding the sidewalk chalk into powder, putting their hands in it and giving each other high fives. They loved it because when their hands would clap, there would be a puff of “smoke.” I enjoyed watching them partly because I got to see new kids reaching out to other kids and start to feel part of the group. Community was growing right before my eyes! Then they started smacking their chalky hands, wham, against the school building. They covered the rust brown wall with hundreds of handprints and fingerprints in different colors…it was a work of art that wasn’t planned; it just happened. I love seeing what happens when you give kids space to be creative. Now I have a new vision for letting spontaneous art happen in a safe, loving place.
The handprints lasted through the weekend. I will remember the joy the students had as they leaped through the air to reach a higher place on the wall to make a colorful handprint. More importantly I’ll remember the connections the students made with each other as they smacked each others’ colorful hands and laughed as a puff of chalk whisped out.