Monday, December 7, 2009

Doing It Our Way

Last post, I mentioned the children's ingenuity and creative thinking. This week I saw it in action again. Since it's Christmas, we are talking about Jesus' birth. This week we made a banner to think about the messages that people wrote about the coming baby. Here's the progress of the banner; the banner's final result was the children's idea.

Here's how the center started. Large paper with the verse on it. A variety of plain stickers: squares, circles, stars, and letters.

As they started working on the banner, the kids decorated the sides of the banner. They began filling in the white space.

I talked about the words on the banner and how that applied to Jesus and Christmas. Then my attention was needed elsewhere. When I came back to the center, I saw this.

The "decorating" had taken a different turn. The kids there told me that they decided to use the stickers to spell the words. No adult had suggested this idea. (In another center, we did use blocks to outline a letter. Maybe that influenced this activity, but I don't remember these kids going to the other center first.)

Their work was diligent. The banner began to take shape to reflect the children's idea.

Kids would come and go, working on the banner for a while and working in other areas for a while. One girl was determined to "finish" the banner. She returned to the table a couple of times until she felt satisfied. Here is the completed banner. (It hangs in our room now.)

I love that I can still read the words (some better than others). I love that it reflects the kids' idea and not mine or someone else's.

Allowing kids to do things in their own ways lets them explore and discover. They feel a strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when they can choose how to do something. They gain a sense of ownership for their work and their learning. And they always surprise me.

How have you seen kids implementing their own ideas? What surprises have you experienced?


  1. Hmm. I'm going to write something on a piece of paper tomorrow and put out dot stickers. I'll let you know what the kids do.

    I'd gotten out 2 glue sticks today for some kids who wanted to use a hole punch to make "dots" then glue them to paper. When we were cleaning up one of the sticks was missing, so I said, "There is one glue stick missing. It's somewhere in the room." Normally, when I say something like this, I'll get 2-3 kids involved in the hunt, but for some reason about half the class took on the task. Pretty soon they were organizing themselves into "teams" and there were these groups of 4-5 kids roaming the room, holding hands, looking for the glue stick.

    We were supposed to be cleaning up, but the game was so spontaneously cooperative and inclusive that after we found the glue stick, I gave them several new missions.

  2. I love your banner and the message! You are so right - giving students the freedom to change things up a bit can lead to a much more rewarding experience and some pretty creative ideas. It is hard to set our own agendas aside sometimes.