When I came across this post about rope light from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds blog, I knew I had to try it. I purchased rope light from Walmart and waited for the right time to use it.
This week, with our talking about Christmas and all, I thought it would be the right time for rope light in the blocks center. I put it out with the blocks and letter blocks...and excitedly waited for the kids to come and use it.
C came over and asked, "What is this?" I told him that he could use the lights in his building or with his building. "I'm making a Christmas building," he said and began work.
After a little while, he tried to place the lights on top of his walls but could not get it to lay straight. "Do you need something to help you?" I asked. "Is there something we could use to help you use the lights?" (I was thinking of tape but wanted him to suggest it or suggest something else.)
"Oh," he said, "I know." He began to build columns inside his building.
He ended up building four or five stacks of cube blocks. He talked about needing them for the ceiling and for the lights...but never used them. He moved on to other things after a little while. No one else even showed interest in the rope light.
So my exciting and unusual material fell flat! It was a bust! And I'm okay with that. Of course, I had to reflect on why that happened. Here's what I was thinking:
(1) We had some other interesting things in the room at the same time. We had stamp pads and stamps to make cards; we were making ornaments and decorating our small tree. Kids were just interested in other things.
(2) My builders were not there. The boys that usually "live" in the blocks center may have enjoyed the activity but they were out.
(3) The rope light was too new. Now that I've introduced it, it will be more familiar next time. They may be more inclined to use it now that they've seen it.
(4) Another day, another reaction. The kids change from week to week so another week this could be the most attractive and exciting thing in the room.
(5) Maybe this group just isn't interested in this. Maybe another group of kids will really engage with it.
This experience reminds me that sometimes an activity is not a failure...it's just not the right activity at the right time. I don't need to brand an activity or experiment a failure just because it didn't work the first time (or the most recent time). I need to try things again and again, in the same way and in different ways. After all, I'm learning as I go just like the kids.
And we will be having rope light again in the blocks center. It's still a cool activity!