Saturday, May 16, 2015

Taking Initiative

One of my favorite things happens when kids decide to fix things or make things better in the classroom.

Recently we were playing with phones and a keyboard. This area was extremely busy. We were talking and taking notes and typing up important information.

Phones and notepads (Brick by Brick)

It looked like a busy office.

Phone messages (Brick by Brick)

Phones and Keyboard (Brick by Brick)

But one of the guys noticed a problem. There was only one keyboard. And not everyone was having opportunities to use it.

He came to me. He explained the situation. He explained what we needed. A waiting list.

Making a waiting list (Brick by Brick)

I've written about our use of waiting lists before. We use them when something is popular but not readily available. Kids can put their names on the list and then go do other things. When the activity is available, the child is given an opportunity to do it. He can say yes or no. We go down the list in order.

Usually I suggest a waiting list if something seems to be popular and kids begin to stand around to wait. I like to keep all kids busy, so a waiting list is a helpful way to manage "turns" when needed.

But this time, my friend suggested the need for one. I gave him paper and tape. He posted it and added his name.

Problem-solving is more than just figuring out how to build something and so forth. It's taking a situation and determining how to make it better. That's what my friend did.

Kids taking initiative and solving problems. Wow, these kindergartners are getting older and more capable. I guess that means they will be moving on soon. And that makes me happy and sad.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Mix It Up

Things in our church kindergarten class are pretty "loose." By that I do not mean that kids can do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want, with no boundaries or respect for others.

What I do mean is that kids can explore their own ideas and try new things, things that I may not have expected but will encourage.

Craft Stick Puppet Stage

Recently we mixed up our class arrangement. We used a table on its side for a puppet stage, so the other things in the room were changed around a little. A table that usually spends time in the middle of the room (the twin of the puppet stage table) went to a wall. And our blocks, usually along that wall, came to the middle of the room.

This group of kids we have seem to love something new. It doesn't matter what that thing is (usually) as long as it's new.

Making Craft Stick Puppets

Our puppet area definitely gained some attention. I had some pictures on sticks along with paper, scissors, markers, tape, and sticks for them to make their own puppets, too.

A few kids experimented with this new idea. They used the stage sparingly and then moved on.

Craft Stick Puppets

Craft Stick Puppets

Craft Stick Puppets

A little later, a couple of boys decided to try and balance the foam cubes from the blocks area on the puppet stage table. I think at first it was just a balancing experiment, but then they began to really enjoy the process.

Puppet Stage Castle

Then the blocks on the puppet stage became a castle. Puppets were retrieved; others were made. And the activity took on a whole new life.

I love it when kids can mix it up. They took something from one place and remixed it into another space to create an idea that no one had before. (Well, at least in our classroom at that moment, no one had it.)

Craft Stick Puppets

Allowing things to travel is an important part of the classroom environment. Everything doesn't move to a new space every week. And if it seems like we're just making a mess, things move back to their "home base." But allowing some exploration and movement of materials can yield some great results.

Even a castle on a table's edge.

Puppet Stage Castle