The World Is a Blank Canvas…Via the Eyes of a Seven Year Old

By Kim Barnes, Head of Early Childhood

For three days now, the hill on the Lower School playground has been slick with mud. Each morning Tony has begun his drawing.

Sliding first one foot and then the other in a backward motion, Tony connects the strokes of the head. Then he’s off to clean his shoes. The eyes and mouth and nose come next. That’s as far as he gets on the first day.

Thursday arrives and there’s Tony ready to go to work. With a cover of clouds, this morning has less light than yesterday so it is difficult for him to find the lines of the day before. Undaunted, he begins again. It is a bit drier today so his foot must go slower making smaller strokes. The greater effort is shown on his face as he presses hard with his foot to penetrate the earth. This time only the shape of the head is visible as our morning time ends.

There’s quite a bit of moisture in the air and even less light the next morning. Tony is the first to arrive. “Yessss!” he says as he runs up the hill. He quickly slides his foot down and around for the head. In the blink of an eye (no pun intended), the facial features appear. The face is smiling; so is Tony. He’s not finished though as he begins to work on the body. A few of us gather to watch. Tony’s shoes are heavy with mud; down the hill he goes to scrape and stomp the mud. With a little help, his feet become light and he’s back to work. Working against the clock, he completes the body, arms, legs, and feet. However, he’s not finished. Uh-oh! Dylan hasn’t seen Tony’s work and steps on a part of it. Tony quickly explains his work to Dylan.

Tony has a plan and soon a frame of rocks begins to appear. The rocks are far away and the rocks are heavy from a first grader’s perspective.

What’s this? It’s not just Tony building the frame. There’s Dylan and other friends carting those river rocks to the top of the hill to form a solid protection around the mud man, which has moved from Tony’s mud man to the mud man. Several of the third and fourth graders who have been playing virus tag stop to take notice of what is going on and admire what Tony has done and the work the others are doing to protect his work.

It was fascinating to watch a single person’s work become owned by many. Isn’t it wonderful what children can see!

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