Sunday, December 15, 2013

Open-ended Creativity with Leo Lionni's Pezzettino

Pezzettino is the protagonist in author-illustrator Leo Lionni's tale of self-discovery. In Italian pezzettino means "little piece." This little orange block, Pezzettino, asks all his friends if he belongs to one of them: "I must be a piece of somebody. I must belong to someone else.” After a trip to the Island of Wham Pezzettino falls and breaks into many little pieces [spoiler alert] and realizes he is own self and not a little piece of somebody else! My Kindergarteners loved the colorful illustrations and Pezzettino's bravery. I'm sure your Littles will enjoy Lionni's book too. 

I turned Lionni's story into the basis for a printmaking project. We just completed a great unit on styrofoam printmaking and I wanted to get my students back to the beautiful simplicity of stamping with scrap wood and bright, liquid color. We created Pezzettino-inspired creatures by dipping blocks into paint and pressing onto the paper to create "Pezzettinos" who were slithering, flying, running, and/or swimming.

I first became inspired at the National Art Education Conference (NAEA) 2012 in NYC by an art teacher who shared her project centered around Pezzettino in which her young students used old erasers and stamp pads to create creatures. I think this would be a manageable way to do this project at home without the mess of blocks loaded with paint falling on the floor. If I wanted to use blocks and tempera paint at home with kids, I would cover a table in Kraft paper and put different paints in small, shallow containers. This could also be a great collage project with colorful squares of paper.

Encourage open-ended creativity by posing questions to your Littles:
  • How does your creature move?
  • Where does it live? (Try and get them to create an environment)
  • Where are the different body parts?
You will be amazed at how they invent stories to go along with their creations!