Author: Maria Ungerer
Rallim Art Edumentor
If there were only a few items to get us through the lockdown days, Sidewalk Chalk would surely be one of them. Not only is it super inexpensive, but it’s great for all ages and has unlimited play potential.
There’s nothing that makes our children run away faster than pulling out oversized workbooks at home.
I get it! The lockdown is a real thing, but to them it is also very much like a school break...except they do not get to go ANYWHERE.
Instead of trying to get my daughter to hunker down inside to “learn”, I often try to engage her with activities that use chalk, boost her knowledge and spark her creativity all at the same time. Fostering a child’s imagination is just as important as teaching them their ABCs.
My daughter and I spent the greater part of last year’s September break drawing with chalk.
I remember asking her to choose three topics. Lula’s mind was set on BALLOONS, UNDER THE SEA and CROCODILES.
Not only did we have hours of fun, but it gave us the opportunity to reconnect, engage in meaningful conversations and created memories that will last forever.
It left such an impression on my seven year old that she begged me to buy enough chalk that will last for at least twenty one days. So we started our next chalk adventure and it inspired me to write this post.
Of course, this post is about our first project. For two very good reasons...we just started our second project, and the first project is definitely worth sharing.
ONE: I decided to set up something exciting. I arranged multicoloured balloons throughout the house, and the same coloured chalk, waiting for Lula to apply her imagination. She picked her favourite coloured balloons and started playing with them. Driven by excitement, we created a beautiful bunch of balloons.
TWO: Lula’s vivid imagination and creative mind lead us to create an interesting ocean display. Her choice of the jellyfish and air bubbles reminded me of the synthesis of facts and beautiful connections in the imaginary world of young children to craft stories that look and feel real!
THREE: I asked Lula to describe a crocodile. As I listened to the answer, she continued to gesture and speak dramatically. Yet, she turned the crocodile into a friendly reptile, whom everybody else mistakenly thought of as a ferocious carnivore, in a way that was playful, engaging and imaginative.
Lying in bed one night, I snuggled into my next idea to connect with our chalk art. Listening to and responding to books is a wonderful tool to deepen curiosities, creativity and a love for reading. The next day I encouraged my daughter to choose a book which she thought would fit each of the chalk art topics.
When Lula asked the questions: “How much energy does it take to blow up a balloon?” and “Why, if you blow it up and let go of it, it flies off, but if you blow up a plastic packet, it just falls to the ground?”. Rather than answering the question (assuming I could), I found myself joining in her act of wondering. Fueled by curiosity and tremendous observational skills, we began our quest to find the answers to her questions.
For reasons that are up to greater scientific debate than you might think, the first blow into a balloon is always the hardest. It usually requires a good set of lungs, not to mention some time, and patience. Lula tried to blow up her balloon first, which then turned into frustration rather than success. The second and third attempt escalated into a session of anger management that was fueled by my very successful first attempt. Of course, this was the only way Lula could experience and understand that adults usually have a greater lung capacity...and that blowing up a balloon takes some supernatural skills.
And off we went to our local gym. I had a fitness assessment due for my medical aid and part of the process is a peak flow test. This is a simple measurement of how quickly you can blow air out of your lungs. The Biokeneticist was kind enough to give Lula a turn. Fortunately we only had one turn each, as one glimpse in Lula’s direction had the words ‘CHALLENGE ACCEPTED’ written all over our faces.
The next day was spent on building and conducting science experiments. Like all children do, Lula learns best with all her senses engaged. Hands-on science activities let children do just that, giving the kids a chance to engage multiple senses. Critical thinking skills are enhanced during hands-on science activities. Kids can ask the why, how, and what questions. Even better, they can help answer the questions themselves.
Maybe we didn’t find all the answers we were looking for, but we learnt that a snapping turtle has a stronger bite than a crocodile and that starfish have the ability to regenerate limbs and, in some cases, entire bodies.
Personally I learnt that Lula has the same competitive nature as me, but her gentle heart and fear of failure often stands in her way to persevere. Also, I need to stop being so hard on her.
Never did I imagine when laying down that first chalk line in our backyard that it would turn into a magical journey to reconnect with my daughter on so many levels. Memories that will last forever - but most definitely not the last.
"Parents (teachers) can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges."
- Joyce Meyer -