The Relationship between Details and Complexity of Children's Thinking - Mid-Pacific Institute

Art - Guillory

The Relationship between Details and Complexity of Children's Thinking

Posted on October 23, 2016

by Ms. Guillory on October 23, 2016


L looks closer and decides to add the detail of the space around his drawing of the lion so the viewer can know where it is in the space.

Often when I sit down to write a blog, the first thing I do is go through my documentation. I look through hubdreds of photos, turn the pages of the black book that I keep notes in, and look through the Google docs on conversations among students and teachers, and quotes. As teacher researchers, we follow and learn right along with your children, so for us, documentation is most important. We have to be able to tell our community's story.

When I go through this process, I always marvel at the children's ideas becoming visible, even beyond that --the child's ideas transforming and morphing into even better ideas! I think as we so pride ourselves on our Reggio-inspired work, we value this idea that children are in constant editing and revision of their ideas, whether it be in the block area with a structure, painting a mark at the easel, or redrawing a theory the child is constantly thinking about. This is also so vital to the learning process and is embedded in how we seed our environment and how we provocate the children. These ideas cannot be revealed without a fluid process that's anything but linear. Preschoolers and kinders are both engrossed in this process of ideas becoming visible. A further lens that I'd like you to look through is of the nuance of seeing detail that helps children construct more meaningful ideas an theories. Sometimes the absence of detail is equally important in the case of creating symbols. But for this blog, look at the amazing details the children add to their work, revealing deeper empathy and readability to what they are constructing.



M notices there is no toothbrush for the fly. M constructs and adds this detail to the bathroom. These little details that the children begin to add reveal their care and empathy toward the fly and the house.

These past weeks in preschool the children have continued to work in small groups planning, editing, revising, and building their fly house. In this last phase of construction, the children have revealed to us that size and scale and detail have been of the utmost important. As the rooms of the house the living room, bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom become real, the children continue to revise their ideas as they construct.




C adds his idea: fly toilet paper and baby wipes. If we are going to have toilet paper and a toilet, there might also be fly babies that need wipes.

Now that they are bringing their static drawings to life, they have to decide materials, style, function, and design since these are all part of the process of constructing something and making it readable to the flies.



M could have easily added small books to the bedroom about trains or dinosaurs, but instead, he thought about what a fly would want to read about. Above he makes books about flies and other insects because thatʻs what flies would want to read about.

As the process has continued, we see this strong evidence of the children becoming more and more empathetic and taking the view of the other (decentering) in thevexamples below.




Again a small detail, but look how R and T thought about the scale of a fly pillow and how they sewed it!

Within this process the children have also been able to experience another kind of collaboration through working with Brian Grantham, our Directorof Educational Technology. We have been able to ask an expert of the 3-d printer to create furniture small enough for the fly itself.



Above, one small detail. R and A could have made small shirts with three arm holes, on each side to fit the fly along with mini hangers!


While printing, the children get a first hand look at this technology and learn the process of printing in a different media.


The children even think carefully about the choice of flooring used. They choose kitchen tile because itʻs most like a real kitchen.



Carefully crafted mugs are the perfect size for a fly.


Even the detail of the furniture to be printed was thought out and voted on by the children before printing.

Be looking for a longer PDF as the children finish their fly house.

In kindergarten we have been engaged in many different provocations in order for children to deepen and build their relationship with the space we have been visiting, the two houses on our campus. One of the provocations in the space was for children to look for and draw one clue that they felt could tell them more about the house or the houseʻs story.



S adds two details, little circular shapes which she felt was key to the plantʻs identity, and she also adds the wall to show that it is part of the house.

Our goal was for the children to begin to connect that the objects they were photographing and interested in were connected to the identity of the house itself. Returning to the studio, the children later were further provocated to look more closely at their drawings and a photo of what they had drawn in order to look for ways to make it more readable.


Fʻs second drawing, below, her first. F feels it important to add the plants and house showing exactly where it is in the space.)



The children were asked to re-draw to add the details that could help make their ideas more visible. This is also a strategy we use to have children look closer and notice more about what they are seeing, which helps them to create a stronger relationship and empathy for what they are drawing.
As this process has unfolded, the children have come up with some brilliant strategies of why and what to add to make their drawings more readable.


As we often do to help the children co-construct, the children discuss details they can add to re-drawing together as a group.

One strong strategy shared by many of the children was to add pieces of the background of the photo to show proximity of where the clue was found.

Another strategy used here was to add enough of the other objects around it that the viewer would know that it was a doorbell and not something else. (Below)


A child checks in and shares his re-draw as I type out his words.)


The children also shared their theories of what these objects told her about the house (which, as I said earlier, helps the children connect object to place and its identity. This was very interesting because in order to explain the identity of the house, the children were explaining the possible stories of the people who lived in it.


Lastly I'd like to share an image from the schools of the future confrence in which I co-presented at two different presentations. So much of what I do as a teacher is to document and analyze documentation. When we share our work with othersm this is also how we put together our presentation, with the added piece that we are reflecting on past work with children, which is amazing! Above is an image of a traveling mini-exhibit that we have put together to share our strong image of the child and our work!