Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When an Activity Takes a Turn

On the table were materials to make collages. B approached the table and began to glue shapes.

"Hey," he said, "this is a dolphin." 

He dug into the shapes. "Here is a hand. And another hand. Here is a gold airplane. This one is silver."

Then it happened. This art activity turned into a math/puzzle activity. B sorted the shapes into piles. He compared sizes and colors of shapes. 

"Look at this," he would call repeatedly. "Here's another one."

I've often commented on letting kids choose how to do an activity, encouraging them to follow their own ideas as they work. Over time I've seen a puzzle activity become a building activity and a dramatic play activity become writing. But this is the first time I've seen an art activity take such a turn. 

B went on to create a collage with some of the shapes he found. But even if he had not returned to "my plan" the activity would have been successful. He practiced sorting and categorizing. I learned more about him and his interests.

Flexibility and open-ended play are important components to teaching. Insisting on my own ideas does not further learning--theirs or mine. I love to see play in action, even when it surprises me.


  1. The sign of a good teacher is to allow the children to explore and learn as they wish to learn!

  2. A perfect example to highlight that literacy & mathematics are all around us for the children to engage in. We just don't always see it.