Receiving The Docent Educator has encouraged me to write about a special project of mine. I call it “building memories.”
It began one day while touring a third grade group. Three of the children recognized me from the previous year and asked if we could go to see the same pictures where we had had so much fun before. It took me a while to realize that I had given them a tour on landscapes. Here is what we talked about together.
Have you ever been out in the country? Have you ever been on a farm or read a story about a farm? Well, we’re going to pretend we all live on a farm over here (outside the painting). It is Saturday and we have chores to do — what kind of chores do kids have on a farm? (feed chickens, slop hogs, bring in wood, make beds – endless)
Well, I’m all finished my chores and Mother says we can go play in the meadow. Let’s run over there (pointing to the meadow in the painting). What kind of day is it? How did the artist tell us that? How could we make it look like fall / winter?
I don’t see any toys. What are we going to play with? Oh, we could climb the trees! Let’s do it; I’m going up real high. Are you coming? Look down, how does the meadow look from up here? Who lives in this tree? (birds, insects, squirrels, even snakes) It’s nice and cool up here. Do you see the leaves moving? Why are they moving? This is nice, but now I want to climb down and explore the meadow. Who is coming with me?
What do you see in the tall grass? (flowers, insects — you can prompt them by pretending to find an insect and asking them what kind it is) Oh, Jason has found a frog by the pond over here, and he is going to chase us with it. Where should we run?
Now I’m all hot and sweaty. What can we do to cool off? Jump in the pond? Great! I’m going to jump right in, are you? Will it be cold? Will it be deep? How can you tell?
Wait, I hear Mother calling us. It’s lunch. Let’s dry off and hurry back. What is the fastest way back to the farm?
I have never had a group since who has failed to participate with enthusiasm. If you become one of them, while leading with enthusiasm, they will follow!
Mary Doiron, docent, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA
Doiron, Mary. “It Works for Me…Sharing successful techniques and ideas.,” The Docent Educator 4.2 (Winter 1994-95): 11.