Our Boston: Voices from Kindergarten
On Saturday May 11, Boston mayor Marty Walsh visited BSA Space to celebrate with children, families, teachers, and administrators at the opening of the exhibition Our Boston: Voices from Kindergarten.
The projects, built by 34 Boston Public School kindergarten classrooms from 14 schools across 12 neighborhoods, are a culmination of the students’ ‘Construction’ unit which began when the mayor sent a letter to the kindergartners in which he asked:
“What ideas do you have about construction that would make Boston a fairer and more interesting place for children?”
Construction is part of Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) Focus on K2 which is curricula that combines current research on teaching and learning with attention to high standards for achievement. The value of being a citizen and a member of a community is explored throughout Focus on K2, in part, through the integration of authentic learning opportunities with members of the Boston community.
The BSA Foundation worked with the Department of Early Childhood to integrate architect visits into the classroom program. Since 2018, volunteer architects have visited BPS kindergarten classrooms to work with students as they begin their Construction unit. Throughout the unit, students build the skills of the design process—analysis, collaboration, creative thinking, and problem solving. Such skills allow even our youngest citizens to contribute potential solutions to the challenges they see facing our city.
The student projects in the exhibition show just how capable young children are of synthesizing and analyzing problems and coming up with solutions that meet the needs of the community. Examples of projects include a ‘Happy Shelter’ which is a homeless shelter for families that includes a time-out room for parents, a ‘Toy Mobile’ which delivers toys to children around the city who don’t have any, an inclusive park which has activities and spaces where bullies can ‘learn to be friends’ and a ship that collects trash from the ocean.
At the event, students described their processes and projects, using their best negotiating skills to persuade Mayor Walsh to build their project in the city. The Mayor praised the students’ work and thanked them for the brilliant ideas that were on display at BSA Space. He observed that the projects told a hopeful story about Boston—a story being told by the little people who live in it.
Our Boston demonstrates that by inviting kids to think about how design can solve problems that affect their families and neighbors, we are also preparing them to create the habit of community engagement, which we believe results in a richer social and urban fabric built on ideas of collaboration, innovation, design excellence, and inclusion.