Online learning can be a challenge, but for young children it can be especially difficult to navigate the different platforms, find your way through applications and tools when still developing literacy skills, demanding to maintain focus, and mentally exhausting in unexpected ways as our visual system struggles with screens and virtual communication. After a particularly hard day, I invited our children to sit on the floor and create turtles with me. Inspired by turtles in many traditions and stories as symbols of wisdom, patience and perseverance, we made these pieces to display in our work spaces.
Turtles can be a remarkably simple or complex animal to draw. We started by drawing a large circular shape on the page. We added 4 feet or fins, a tail and head poking out from the circular shell. We then divided the shell in segments and used lines, shapes and colors to give our turtles their unique markings and personalities. From an art education perspective, the turtle shell provides an excellent space for experimenting with line quality and shape. From an art therapy perspective, creating your own simple shapes to fill in can offer a sense of soothing and mastery as completing each element of the design can be satisfying without requiring complicated decision making. Each maker was able to reach a unique endpoint from the same simple invitation.
While everyone is doing their best, we all need reminders to be patient and generous with each other, with technology and with ourselves as we figure out how to do this together. Thank you to all the teachers and so many others who are going above and beyond to support children and parents in this unprecedented time. I wish you turtle energy and hope you will make your own reminder to persevere!