the 1994/95 school year my friend-colleague and I asked ourselves:
"How can we get the children to play in a creative and constructive
way with a machine: the computer? How can we present this "object"
to children who don't know it? Would this type of experience
So we began to read and study and search for news and information.
We were more and more convinced that there shouldn't be just
a computer in the classroom - it had to be accompanied by something
simple, spontaneous, creative and easily accessible.
And so this was our first idea for a project, with the title,
patchwork to machine", which summed up our approach towards
the children. The approach we planned involved experiences in
class which emphasized perception, representation and symbol.
These experiences could be obtained both through leftover materials
(such as pieces of cloth and cardboard) and through structured
materials (for example logic blocks and rulers), eventually
bringing them together into a first acquaintance with the computer.
In the early years we only had an old IBM model available, which
the children called Luca Corrente. Luca Corrente, however, didn't
"know" how to do much. With him the children were only able
to play a little DOS game, using the arrow keys, or type out
Then the father of a little girl in our class lent us his PC
(christened "Luca Corrente's brother" by the children). This model
also "knew", as the children put it, how to draw thanks to Paint
software, with lots of tools (paint tins, scissors, rubber,
brush...) and colours with varied shades.
So the children learned to use the mouse for drawing, as well
as the usual brushes, paints, coloured pencils, chalks and wax
crayons. Lots and lots of stories grew out of the drawings.
The following year, stimulated by the enthusiasm of the children
and their parents which resulted from this initial experience,
we tried to take the analysis of a work of art as our starting
point. For this we chose a Kandinsky painting: "Points in the arch".
Patrizia and I continued very cautiously, step by step, to propose
new ideas and experiences. Thus, moving on from looking at the
whole image, the children chose various fragments of the work
to copy, using both felt-tip pens and the paint program. Each
fragment led to the invention of a story. As time, and the school
years, passed we all grew more confident in handling the "machine",
which offered us enormous opportunities for expression and development.
In the meanwhile the computer in use was no longer an object
on loan. We now had two of them in class, complete with scanner
and printer (purchased thanks to a contribution from the Multilab
National Experimental Pilot Project).
Using an educational CD, "The castle
of the imagination", we continued to combine experiences
with the "machine" and work in class. Things that were first
tried out using the CD were then rediscovered through play experience
using coloured patches, cardboard, plastic bags and drawings
on the floor. But the computer also made us feel nearer to children
and teachers in other schools. And so there emerged the first
ideas for an exchange with a nursery school in Udine through
journey of a postcard.
From the computer that provided us with off-line games we could
now, thanks to the Internet, make use of another way of communicating.
The idea was, therefore, to create a chain story by joining
up with other schools in different cities: Udine, Cosenza, Milan,
E-mail messages and postcards were read out in class,
followed by exchanges of ideas. This led on to drawing parts
of the invented story on the computer to send to other schools.
Children and colleagues from the primary school also began to
express a wish to work together with us. And this was how the
project "The child between science and creativity" began, designed
to involve pupils right up to the academy of fine art.
Combining experiences of both a scientific and an artistic nature
through the four elements of life provided us with an ever-greater
stimulus to go on and formulate new ideas. It was therefore
possible to create transversal programmes cutting across schools
and communicating through "Reality, fantasy and virtuality".
In each case we met and discussed communication media and levels.