We are never surprised by the interesting and talented people who walk into our Colorado Academy Pre-Kindergarten classroom. Grandparents Day brought us George R. Skuodas, a retired Colonel, and the “Papa” of our own Ceci Skuodas. We discovered quickly that Colonel Skuodas is a bona fide artist. He was very interested in our Mini-Innovation Lab and told us about sculptures he creates using old odds and ends that he collects. He inspired us to make our own creations!
After receiving explicit directions about the use of the tools and materials, students made plans to build their own sculptures from all sorts of small materials. The students worked diligently as they tried new and unusual tools to create small works of art. In Pre-K, we encourage reflection and perseverance. Seeing our students’ faces brighten as they bring their ideas to fruition is one of the many things that makes our jobs worthwhile.
A quote in our classroom says, “Those things you learn without joy you will forget easily.” With that philosophy, it was only natural to incorporate an Innovation Lab within our classroom. Pre-K students are at the perfect age to explore with inquisitive minds and find new ways to create and build. During lab time, we spend time thinking and planning because we believe the process is just as important as the product.
When students are taught early to be in charge of their learning, to explore their ideas, and to persist despite challenges and failures, they are much more likely to excel throughout their lives. Our Mini-Innovation Lab is a place where students learn to teach and challenge themselves—joyfully.
Recently, we received three sculptures on permanent loan from Skuodas. One is a sculpture called “Robot Rad Racer.” It started as a Sears Craftsman pad sander and included more than 70 parts by the time it was finished. The other pieces are a robot dog named “Rover” and a robot cat named “Buttons.” It is so exciting to have these pieces on display where they can inspire future artists.