One of my favorite benefits of blogging and interacting with bloggers is the discovery of new ideas and possibilities. I often encounter an idea that I want to try in my classroom. (In fact I'm gaining quite a collection of ideas.)
When Deborah from Teach Preschool posted about using blocks on her sticky easel, I knew immediately that I wanted to try that with my group of builders and constructors. How could I not, since Deborah posted a challenge to me at the end of her post? :) But even without her encouragement I wanted to try this. So, this week, I put contact plastic (sticky side out) on our oil drip pan magnet board. I put some small wooden blocks and some foam cubes. (I got the foam cubes from the dollar shelves at Target. That place is dangerous for me!)
The boys (no girls participate this week) began to experiment.
One boy began to sort and group related items - something he often does.
Another one built a tank.
Someone began experimenting with just sticking the blocks on the paper. Some of the blocks would fall off and he would try again...or try another orientation.
We had a discussion about the fact that the paper did not go all the way up the pan. He "tried" to stick a block on the non-sticky part and watched it fall. It fell through the assorted blocks, like a maze or a pinball machine. I thought this was really cool. He liked it and tried it a couple of time but then lost interest.
Then the two boys decided to cover all the sticky paper with blocks.
They tried to find all the empty spaces and place blocks there.
They pulled the blocks off the paper and sorted them (by lighter and heavier) as they put them back in the appropriate bins. One boy observed that the sticky paper moved away from the board when he pulled at the bottom. (I didn't tape the bottom edge.) I was surprised that he was surprised. But, then again, kids are just discovering how all these things work.
Other boys worked at the board later. One built a cabin with a tree.
Later it had a treehouse.
Another one experimented with using the cubes to make designs.
This was a very successful experience. I will definitely do this again.
One side note: I was reminded again the power that my words can have. I had experimented before the kids arrived and noticed that the wooden blocks would sometimes fall off after a few minutes. When the first boy came, I mentioned that the foam cubes would stick well but the wooden blocks may fall off sometimes. (I wanted to minimize frustration...to make sure that the falling blocks wouldn't be a surprise.)
Afterward, this boy mentioned my caution to each child who ventured close to the activity. He experimented with the wooden cubes and discovered that they stuck pretty well. But, for a while, he didn't try any other shapes. I inadvertently limited his exploration.
However, he did talk about the wooden blocks being "heavier" and the foam cubes "lighter." We compared them. And he sorted them based on this trait (instead of any other trait). So...maybe...my mistake did lead to some different kinds of exploration. I guess I'm still learning, too.