Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Assumption of Mary: It’s the Process (and the Aim) Not the Product

(Note:  I know I had promised to continue our Prayer Peg series yesterday, but life happened and  priorities took me away from the computer.  I will pick the series up again next week.  In the meantime, I want to share how thankful I am for the process of fun and learning we experienced here at Jammies school last Sunday!)

Often when we approach arts and crafts as a part of learning we have the product in mind instead of the aim:  a pretty little something we can give as a gift or hang proudly on our walls.  In Jammies School this past Sunday, we took a more process-minded approach.

Our aim was three-fold:

(1)   To synthesize some of what the children have learned about the Assumption.
(2)   To enjoy some (mostly) child-led art time together, using only materials we had on hand.
(3)   To get some sensory input and skills practice.

This is how things unfolded:

We decided we would capture the idea that Mary went from Earth to Heaven during the Assumption through art by changing something that was an earthly dirt brown to a heavenly sky blue.

For the Earth, the kids each cut open a brown paper bag to use as a canvas.  (Check for Goal  #3 - fine motor skills practice!)

For Heaven, since the kids wanted to paint, I rummaged about to find the only blue paint we had left in the house – one nearly empty squeeze bottle and one small jar of finger paint. (Check for Goal #2 – using only what we had on hand for art.)

We brought these outside and set to work symbolically changing our earthly bag canvas to a heavenly blue one.

Initially, we decided to use cotton balls to spread the paint, symbolizing clouds (and offering some additional tactile input for Goal #3).  But, Luke didn’t like how the cotton “dragged too much” and “got sticky” on the paper.  So, the kids decided to simply pull the cotton apart to dry, sticking in the paint as clouds.

Then, they found other ways to spread the heavenly blue medium:

Nina, though not on the SPD scale a sensory seeker nonetheless, joyfully dug all five of her fingers and her palm into the finger paint jar and then, intently, spread it about her canvas.

Luke, who is sometimes tactile defensive, was not as keen on actual finger (or whole hand, as Nina’s case may have been) painting.  Instead, when the paint got on his hands,  he ran to wash them, and, then, opted to use an empty paint bottle as a brush of sorts, dabbing and dragging it through globs of paint to spread them.

As a result of their chosen paint-spreading techniques, Luke ended up far cleaner than Nina when the painting was done.  Luke didn’t really have paint anywhere on him. Well, that is, until he accidentally stepped on his painting when trying to step over it.  So, into a dishpan footbath he went, while Nina, who had managed to paint tummy, legs and all, requested to go splash in the big tubby.

Luke wanted nothing to do with a mid-day bath.  He wanted to continue his project, making Mary to put in the sky.  When I asked him how we should make her, he said he’d just color her.  But, I reminded him that he’d lost his privilege to use crayons that day (another story there…).  He, then, thought aloud that we could print out a Mary from the computer, but nixed the idea as soon as he came up with it, determining that he wanted to draw her with pencils instead.

So, with Nina happily in the tub, I helped Luke collect and sharpen some colored pencils.  Then, he busied himself at the kitchen table drawing Mary and other characters while I went back and forth between him and our bathing Nina. 

Each time I checked on Luke, I smiled wider and wider:

“Mary is saying Yes to God in Heaven,” Luke told me as I saw him coloring Mary with halo, beautiful colors and all.

“Jesus is bigger than Mary.  He has a halo, too,” he informed me as he drew a depiction of Jesus, “since Jesus took his mother to Heaven.”

Then, later, “The angel is singing ‘Hail Mary’ because there is a new Queen,” he described as he drew wavy lines (to depict sound) around an angel he was creating.

And, finally, “I’m drawing the apostle who was late Mommy…that only got to saw the flowers…Does he look sad?... He’s crying because he didn’t get to see Mary…(He became happy because he saw the flowers and knew) Mary went to Heaven.  Right, Mommy?  She went to Heaven…  I am taking away his tears…” Luke chattered on as he finished his last drawing.

Later, after Nina’s tubby, Luke decided that since Nina had not drawn any figures, we should put her Heaven and his together to be one Heaven for the figures he had drawn to go in.  “You tape them (the Heavens) together, Mommy.  Give me scissors to cut out Mary.”  I followed Luke’s suggestion on this and when he said, “You put the glue on and I will put them on Heaven.”  Likewise, I complied when Luke and Nina, together, decided we should hang their work in our hallway so, “We can see it when we wake up in the morning,” and, “we can pray here at night.”

And, indeed, they have been doing this.  Nina ran out to the hall last night when it was time for bedtime prayers to say the “Hail Mary”, joined by Luke, and to thank Jesus for dragonflies (another story there, too…)

Truly, our Sunday afternoon mini-project was a blessed one!  The kids both got to exercise their fine motor skills, explore the medium of finger paint and enjoy some focused attention.  Luke also did some problem solving (deciding how best to add Mary to the work) and displayed some synthesis of his knowledge of the Assumption through drawing and storytelling. (Check on Goal #1.)

The process helped us meet our aims.  And, hey, the product still ended up decorating our walls! 

Perhaps if we seek to emulate Mary, with our greater process and aims here on Earth through loving Jesus and saying yes to God, we might end up with a grand fantastic “finished product” – time with God, through his grace, in Heaven for eternity.  (Okay, not assumed, but radiantly joy-filled nonetheless).  Now, that is something to be grateful for!

This post is shared at Women Taking a Stand.  Please enjoy the other Thankful Thursday links there. 
It is also shared at Sunrise Learning Lab Reggio Emilia Wednesday.  Reggio is an approach that interests us, and, though this was not a 100% Reggio project, for many reasons, it is  a step towards more Reggio learning for us.  Check out sunrise learning Lab for a brief explanation and resource list for Reggio learning, as well links to other Reggio-inspired posts.


Denise said...

Such a great post.

The Sunshine Crew said...

So neat how they were able to describe their work so well. They really put thought into their work.
Love the whole Assumption of Mary project and all of the process...their end product is adorable and touching, too.
Thanks for sharing and thanks for linking up to Reggio Emilia Wednesday.
Have a great rest of your week.

Serendipity said...

Sounds like a great job!

Deb Chitwood said...

Great post! I love your focus on the process! I think your blog is wonderful and gave you an award at


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