A couple of weeks ago I introduced the children to a book by Sara Fanelli, called 'My Map Book'. As the title suggests this book is full of wonderful illustrations and suggests to children the concept that maps can be drawn or written about many different themes. For instance some of Sara Fanelli’s unusual maps include a ‘map of my day’, a ‘map of my face’, a ‘map of my tummy’, a ‘map of my dog’, and my favourite: a ‘map of my heart’.
It was this map, ‘a map of my heart’ that I used as a provocation for the children whilst asking them the question, ‘If you drew a map of your heart, what would you include?’ My idea was to encourage the children to think deeply and honestly, to be self-reflective and to develop their 'metacognitive' thinking.
The term metacognition was introduced by Flavell in 1976 to refer to "the individual's own awareness and consideration of his or her cognitive processes and strategies" (Flavell 1979). It refers to that uniquely human capacity of people to be self-reflective, not just to think and know but to think about their own thinking and knowing.
It has been a wonderful experience to work alongside the children in this project, and so interesting to listen to their words, thoughts and ideas, as well as watch their ‘thinking taking place’.
Marcus, for instance, was quick to draw a first map which included his superman cape, train tracks and himself, yet returned a little while later asking to do another: “I want to do another one as I didn’t give that one enough thinking”.
Here is his second map along with his words:
“I put in Chester my cat and his tail. And I guess Carla, she’s our dog. She’s got a big fat body and a head and a pointy nose and a long tail and 4 legs and floppy ears. I guess me now and now Daddy with his heaps of prickles, and Alice with long hair. Now my Mummy, now my Katie and the last person Heidi.”
Lucas spent absolutely ages in front of his blank piece of paper, thinking so very hard. As he told me, “I only want special things”. He took several breaks over the course of completing his map, returning every once in a while to add another element with each extra idea.
Here is his final map and words:
"The moon and the stars at nighttime. I love my donkey with long ears, I sleep with it and it has a dress and a white nose and his name is German. And I love pancakes, pancakes on top of each other with syrup. And a Christmas tree, I love getting presents, I put a little heart on the top. And I want to draw an elephant, look he’s twisting his trunk!”
By creating a map of their heart, children are able to bring to the forefront the things that matter most to them, the memories, passions, people, and places that a child cares most deeply about; the things that they each hold close to their hearts.
Here are some other wonderful examples of the children’s works:
“Chocolate chip cookies. Now my sister Caitlin. And the fish Nemo and the other one was shining star, they are dead now which makes me a bit sad. Lollipops, and my mum and dad. This is Emma, cause we are good friends, and this is Zair, and that’s you. I need to draw another heart. Now I’m going to draw Donna and now Kim with her hair tied up. I don’t have a cat, but I’d really like one and if we move I might be able to get one. This is the Sun. This is my special toy, a baby jaguar. This is a swing, I love doing that and touching the roof. And here’s me painting a picture and I like stars!” (Claudia)
“I love Lollipops, this is Mummy, she’s holding a lollipop and candy. That’s Mia and she’s holding a treat. This is Thomas, I love Thomas, he’s number 1. That’s a snowman, I like the snow, and I like the beach so I’ll draw a bucket and yes a spade. And one more - a car, a fast car, I like fast cars" (Kito)
“I like to give my mum a cuddle. I also like my Pippa, she’s a pussy cat... (thinking break)...I have more to add to my heart map. It’s a shaker at my home; my nanny gave it to me. I like all the roads, and hearts, and cookies - plain ones with dots on, and caterpillars. Oh, I forgot me – I like me” (Kate)
‘The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the Heart’ (Helen Keller)