Friday, June 14, 2013

End of the Year Celebration - Parent-Child Home Program

This week I had an amazing opportunity to do a reading and activity at the Parent-Child Home Program (PCHP) graduation ceremony in Worcester. The program is a brilliant one which advocates for early childhood literacy through school readiness and pairing children and families with a trained paraprofessional. There are books and toys and home visits involved; AND smiles, proud parents and an elated group of supportive staff. It is tear-jerking-ly-homemade-chicken-soup-feel-good. 

So on Tuesday night, about thirty-three children enrolled in the program (some who, sniff sniff, graduated from it) attended with their families. When I talked to the coordinator about developing an activity, I was pretty much given free-reign (hooray!). As each child left with a copy of Goodnight Worcester, I kept our hands-on art project centered on the book and its content. And since so many of them were from Worcester, why not do a map project?

What started out as way-overly-ambitious was whittled down to something more appropriate. Looking at a few maps of the city, I decided to recreate and draw some of the main streets and highways and then pull out four scenes for the participants to place in circles. We decided too that the children and their families could match the scenes in the book (if they wanted). I selected Elm Park, the Ecotarium, Shrewsbury and Water Street to have them stick onto the map. 

Why maps?

I like maps. A lot.

I like the way they visually work. The way they are never and always wrong. The way you can interact or just study them. Or how they show everyone’s interconnectedness. The way we cross. That we’re all moving targets. We can web, branch out and come back together. They are lovely and powerful tools.

Right. So the one I made isn’t entirely to scale. And some identifiers are missing. But I allowed myself some artistic license. For the stickers I used Avery-craft sheets (intended for labeling canned goods), scanned the original artwork, edited/sized them and ran them off through my printer. Each child got a set of four (and a few more stickers to take home of the Art Museum, Armory and skyline); Henry and Sophia insisted that the maps (printed on cardstock) also be used as coloring sheets.

So the children could select. Um. Crayons. Um. Colored Pencils. Or. Ta-da! Watercolors. I tend to plead and push for watercolors + young children. I've been known to carry gallons of water, boxes of Ball jars, mini-easels, watercolor paints, paper and other sundries around the park just so young artists can have the full watercolor experience. 

So I am a watercolor-believer. Sink or no sink. Ability to clean up efficiently or inefficiently. Soaking wet paper and paint filled hands everywhere. I love it.

The Verdict? YES.

Can you guess what almost every child selected?! Like a moth to a flame. I joked the other night that I would like for every child in the City to be a watercolorist convert.

And, if they are anything like this group, I think they *all* will be more than happy to comply.


  1. IN case I havent mentioned it before, I really want a copy of your book for the girls (and a little bit for me:). What is the best way to procure one? Your activity looks fantastic!

  2. So creative! I also love maps. I love to create maps to manipulate data, tell stories, show my point. Do you use ArcMAP or GIS?