Classroom Spotlight: The "ish" of Perfectionism

The "ish" of Perfectionism

Douglas Pierce, Kindergarten General Studies
Perfectionism is tricky for many kindergarteners (and adults.)  Learning requires risk.  If we’re not willing to make mistakes or discover we’re wrong, it’s hard to grow and learn.
There are many ways we normalize “making mistakes” in kindergarten.  Our pencils do not have erasers - if you make a mistake, you can just cross it out and keep on going.  We share the mistakes we make that lead to learning.  As teachers, we draw attention to the mistakes we make throughout the day and talk about how that’s OK.
One really fun series of lessons we did was about “Ish,”  a wonderful book by Peter Reynolds.  In this story Ramon becomes frustrated that his drawings do not match reality.  He crumples them up and throws them away.  His sister (spoiler alert) helps him realize that he may not have drawn “a vase of flowers,” but his drawing is “vase-ish.”
After reading this story, students engaged in an art project in which they used water to transfer colors from tissue paper to watercolor paper.  (We intentionally chose a non-exact art process.)  When dried, students looked at the color and thought about whether it matched what they wanted.  It may not look like a pumpkin, but does it look pumpkin-ish?  After adding further details, students took risks and bravely spelled out what they made, as best they could.
In the process, KB discovered that Doug chose some tissue paper that didn’t transfer colors - opps!  That led to a sc
ience experiment where the class made a test strip to find out exactly which colors would transfer and which would not.
May we all learn and grow to accept our mistakes, like Ramon!