In our preschool Performing Arts class, we are supporting student inquiry by exploring the 5 senses. Read about what that looks like inside of our classroom.
In our preschool Performing Arts class, we are supporting student inquiry by exploring the 5 senses. During our first class of the unit, we did a very simple exercise called, “Listening to the Environment.” Those of you reading this who have experience with 3 and 4 year olds might be surprised to know that the class sat still with the sole purpose of listening for 2 minutes. The students then each had a chance to share what it was they heard while we were all silent. Some of them may have had imaginative answers (dinosaurs) while others were able to identify specific sounds like cars driving by, specific people talking in the hallway, or construction workers working on the road outside. The students were also able to articulate that they were able to hear things they wouldn’t have been able to hear had their voices or bodies been active.
In Pre-K, we have been exploring voice and body awareness. Children have to match the beat of the drum with their footsteps, e.g. when a deep beat is struck, they take a big step, and when a shallow beat is struck, they take a small step. We have worked at identifying patterns in the beat, listening for drumming signals, and moving our body to music as well as a drum beat. This activity also incorporates “body leads” where students pick a different part of their body to focus on moving first through the space. We’ve done a similar exercise that focuses on animals rather than using body leads.
As we explore different elements of our senses, students are curious about the different people who might share some of these qualities. Do they know any people who remind them of a bear or a mouse? What type of person leads with their forehead, feet, or belly? How do they tend to move through the world on a day to day basis? Students are encouraged to challenge themselves and explore new ways to use their bodies as they move through space.
When listening, students will sometimes hear noises they don’t recognize. After describing them, the class will guess what made the sound. The fact that they can hear things to which they were previously oblivious arouses the question: “What else are they missing?”
Developing social and communication skills is a huge part of Performing Arts. When playing a group game, students quickly learn what happens when one or more people decide not to play by the same rules and stop working toward our agreed upon shared objectives. We succeed when every participant is playing to their best ability. Whether we are succeeding in our shared objective or things aren’t going exactly as planned, we reflect on what made us successful or stood in the way of achieving our goals.