My blog friends Sherry and Donna at Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based Learning always inspire and sometimes challenge me. I think the idea that has been most intriguing to me has been their emphasis on creating aesthetically pleasing as well as engaging learning activities and centers. Just peruse their blog and you will see all kinds of ideas for setting up activities in fun, attractive ways.
I've been working on that idea, too. However, my set-ups certainly are not like Sherry and Donna's, at least not yet.
Recently I noticed two girls working in the blocks center. Many times my boys dominate that area but this particular day the boys were elsewhere. These girls began to build - and this is what I observed.
As I thought about it, I realized that these girls were concerned as much about aesthetics - how the creation looked - as construction. They carefully chose all the same colors and arranged them in a particular pattern. After this building was toppled, the girls continued to create patterns and designs among their "buildings." (Sorry, no pictures of that.)
This confirmed to me that young children think about how things look. Sure, I can throw a bunch of stuff in a box and set it on the floor - and my kids would have a ball. But thinking about how things are arranged and stimulating the aesthetic portion of their thinking (learning) can be effective as well. Maybe that helps them think about the world and its arrangement. Maybe it helps them grow in visual discrimination. Maybe it's just emotionally satisfying. Whatever drives it, I need to be aware of it and make sure I'm paying attention to it.
Thanks, Sherry and Donna! You are helping me become a more well-rounded teacher.