One Student’s Journal

On the first day of using their sketch journals this year, one 4-year-old student sketched a bird in a nest. When he told me about his picture, he stated, “This is going to be my bird journal.”

bird nest

I didn’t really understand what he meant. However, each day that we had a writing time, he would pick a specific bird book off of the shelf and copy a picture of a bird from it into his journal. He would then ask which words on the page described that particular bird, and he would copy the words from the book onto his journal page. We became fascinated with his process. When he finished every single bird in the book, he asked for help in finding a new bird book and completed the same process.My co-teacher, Sylvia, then found a folder with copies of beautiful watercolors of birds. The boy went through the folder, piece by piece, drawing each bird.

Edward copying bird

After that had been exhausted, he started asking for pictures of specific birds. “I want to draw a kiwi today.” “I think I’ll sketch a white peacock, but it is going to be hard on the white paper.” “Today I will draw the daddy peacock.” For each of these specific requests, we pulled up a Google image on the class laptop for him to use. He learned how to tap the touchpad on the laptop to regain the image when the screen faded to black, and kept working. Over time, his illustrations became more and more detailed.

peacock spreading feathers
Other students in the class couldn’t help but notice this child’s process. Some student’s followed his lead and drew from books, while others copied his work:

Interestingly, his twin brother also wrote a “themed” journal. His was all about monsters! Every page that he created came from his imagination: baby monsters, swimming monsters, monsters with three heads, etc.

Now that our school year is coming to a close, I asked him why he decided that his journal should be all about birds. He simply stated, “Well, my brain told me to draw a bird in a nest on the first page, and that told me that this should be a bird journal.”

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