When I prepare for a day in the studio with the toddlers, there are several considerations that come into play. One is that the studio central supplies have many objects that would not be toddler friendly, so I always minimize the studio space so that everything available to the toddlers is safe and appropriate. Second, I pay attention to the developmental needs of toddlers and their natural curiosity for sensory exploration and scientific inquiry: how does this work, what happens if I do that, etc. AND I talk to the toddler teachers and our head of school a lot. So for our studio exploration this week we decided to investigate PUMPKINS. The children began by simply removing the seeds and insides from two pumpkins (one carving pumpkin and one pie pumpkin). While they worked, I asked alot of questions: How does it feel? Can you smell it? "Are there different colors in a pumpkin?", etc. And although many toddlers don't answer with words, many smelled, touched, looked, laughed and inquired through their senses into the nature of pumpkin. They loved the process and we literally spent nearly an hour just removing the seeds and orange gush. While they worked, I roasted the seeds for them to eat on second line. When both pumpkins were cleaned we carved one and placed the other in a baking dish with some water, cut side down and baked it until soft. The latter will reappear in a few days, when the children will scoop out the pumpkin meat and transform it into pumpkin pies!
The children really enjoyed this activity and I was once again remided how important it is to consider "experiences" and "process" as art, in and of itself.