Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thinking Ahead

This week we explored liquid watercolors, pipettes, and coffee filters. (See my inspiration from Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds and Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone.)

As we were preparing for the day, I thought about the pictures on the inspiration blogs...and about my kids. "This could be messy," I told Cindy. She said that we would just tell the kids to use small amounts of paint. "It could still be messy," I mused.

Cindy covered the table with newspaper. I suggested that we use our trays, too. Cindy agreed. Here are my kids in action.

"You were right," Cindy said later. "Even using just a little, it was messy."

I saw lakes puddles of paint as the kids explored and worked. Since the coffee filters were thin, I think they reached peak absorbency quickly. And, since we haven't used pipettes much, the kids wanted to experiment with them for a while, I think.

So often I think we teachers forget to think ahead...think like the kids. ("Let's use the pipettes over and over and over and over.") That can cause us "behavior problems" because we get flustered at what is happening. But what is happening is natural and (sort of) expected.

If we had pools of paint all over the table...and probably running onto the floor...I would have declared this activity a real mess. I may have been tempted to move it to the "never again" list because I wouldn't want to deal with the consequences of doing it. But the real problem would have been that I didn't anticipate and plan for what the kids would do - how the kids interact with the materials.

As I think back, there may be a couple of activities that I need to try again. A different group or a little anticipation can cause a "failure" activity to become a keeper.


  1. You definitely speak to the intuitive aspect of teaching...getting into the minds and hearts of children. Thinking like a child, I guess. I remember being told as a very new teacher, "when you get frustrated about how an activity is going, it's probably because you had an unrealistic model". Haha, maybe that will be the topic of my next post.

    BTW I've been planning on doing this activity since Sheryl posted about it!!!

    1. Often, the activities that are the most frustrating for me are the ones that had unexpected (by me) consequences.

      I hope you have a good experience with the activity. The kids really enjoyed it.

  2. Scott - next time use thick paper towels:) We are doing this tomorrow so I will let you know if water is dripping all over the floor!

    I am guessing you won't want to try the spaghetti post I plan on sharing soon but you should!!

    1. We debated coffee filters or paper towels. I think we'll try those next time.

      I'll be interested in seeing your spaghetti post. I don't mind messy as long as I'm ready for it!