Sunday, March 22, 2015

A City for Kids

Is the city a good place for kids? How do kids fit into the life of a city? What is their place in the city? 

These are the big questions that we tackle each day in the kindergarten. We look for the answers as we talk, paint, build, use clay, sketch, play and visit the city. We work in small groups, big groups and by ourselves trying to discern our thoughts and theories. 

The thing we keep in mind though is that while we are working hard on these questions in the Kindergarten the other grades in the preschool, lower and middle school are also sitting with these questions and developing their own theories regarding Sabot's Umbrella project, "Our Richmond"..

The children's experiences with the city and their developing shared perspective of what it means to be a city informs their understanding of their place in a city. In an effort to discern these feelings and reflections we asked all of the children to create a city for kids....what would an ideal city offer children.

The children started the process of drawing the city with  sites that they saw during field trips or during family excursions into the city.

Sabine: The city should have bbgb so we could get books.
Dyson: I will draw city hall where the president lives.

But slowly after days of working, the children began to sketch places created in their imagination based on their needs and wants.  Each child in the class contributed to the large scale drawing.

Tucker started the revolution by drawing a cave to dig rocks and jewels. Evan followed  Tucker's lead drawing  a caged dinosaur with a sign stating that rides could be had for ten cents. Carter made a 
climbing wall next to an office building to facilitate exercising after a busy day. Miles started the trend of transforming the James River into a lazy river with dolphins, sea creatures, an okra whale and sharks. Nathan designed a baseball stadium and insisted that there should be many venues to view sports. Harper added a popcorn stand in case the fans became hungry.

The baseball stadium
popcorn stand

Reed stated that Richmond has bike paths and the kid city should too. Safety is always a concern for Kindergartners. Children need to travel slowly through the city on their bikes so numerous stop signs were erected as a cautionary measure.

Sadie suggested that the kids city listen to good music. She thought the birds might wake  up the city
with their beautiful music. Carter draws a pole with numerous bird houses attached.

Gabriel added a carnival to the city because kids love to go to carnivals and amusement parks. Elina wants the kid city to be a welcoming place for animals so she includes pet stores and the SPCA.

As the city takes shape there continues to be more debate regarding the decision to include adults in the kid city.

Tavish thinks that if there are not adults in a city that each kid needs to have a cell phone to communicate with everyone. Miles is confident that only three grown ups are needed in the city. The city will require  a firefighter, medical person and a police-person but he is concerned about watching millions of little kids that will live in the kid city.

We bring the large kid city mural to circle and consider all of the sketching.

We brought forward the thinking that  developed in a small group discussion identifying the things that all cities need to exist. Sabine, Caroline,  Elina, Gabriel, Luke, Millie and Miles were involved in the initial discussion and produced a list that included clean water, food, clothes for the people, helpers for bad guys and accidents and fires and finally power to run things. It was significant that this group of children could identify the needs of people living together in a city. We discussed each of these needs but the children generalized the conversation and applied it to the hypothetical project.

Millie: We need healthy food.
Miles: The grocery store makes our food. The ingredients are grown from the ground
Elina: The  mayor makes the city gardens so people would not starve.
Caroline: It is not a good city if people starve.
Miles: You put seeds in the ground so the city grows. 
Luke: Kids will need to work hard not to have a fight. There needs to be rules for the city so they have good times and not bad times. In a real city, adults are in charge because they are bigger. I guess kids can take care of other kids.

Later in the week,Tucker, Leo and Dyson had a conversation about the system to supply water to all the people and places that needed water in the city.

Leo: The pipe sucks in all of the water from the river and it goes through the building.
It needs to be cleaned.
Dyson: A washing machine might wash the water and make it clean.
Tucker: We are going to get our water from the James River and their is a Water Company. There is a machine inside and the waster is collect and it is put into the machine with buckets. 

Leo added the dark blue water company (water treatment plant) near the James River. The company has pipes that flow from its plant and connects to each house and business requiring water. 

Notice the pipes connecting water to each company and household. 

During the weeks of designing a kid city, the children discuss that a city needs to have several things to both operate and exist as a city but to accommodate and welcome children.

  • Children have basic needs that must be met. There must be ample food, water, clothing, power and safety.
  • These needs are met through urban systems that include community helpers, food distribution, water purification and a power grid that are a part of every city. 
  • A city that does not meet the basic needs of children would not be a good place for children to live.
  • Children find great strength and resiliency from pets. A city that is a good place for children would be welcoming to pets and animals. 
  • Children want to have fun and play. This includes access to nature, places to exercise, watch sporting events, yummy delectable food to eat, places to swim and dig and of course transportation to travel to all of these places.  

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