Monday, April 16, 2012

Make It New

Do you like new stuff? I love getting new teaching supplies and new books. Especially new books. I have 1000 books at my house. (Well maybe not quite that many.) But I always want to buy new ones. New books just make me feel excited about new stories and possibilities. The same with new teaching resources. I like thinking about the possibilities of what the kids will do with the new things.

This week the kids reminded me of the power of new. We had three "new" things to do - and those were the most popular. They like familiar...but they seem to love new.

I bought some new plastic vegetables, fruit, and breads. Usually I don't use play food, but I decided I wanted to have some - for use occasionally to create different types of learning experiences. The kids really enjoyed using these new toys.

We brought our wooden airplanes. (I bought these a while back at the Target dollar shelves.) While these are not new to me, they were new to the kids. It's the first time I've brought them to the classroom. They enjoyed these, playing lots of different games.

We painted with small shoes. We paint almost every week, but using shoes was a new idea. And many kids explored this new painting activity. (Read more about painting with shoes.)

I've blogged about "new" before. But this week reminded me that "new" is very appealing.

And that doesn't mean that I need to purpose new things every week - have something completely different for the kids to use. They like the familiar and like exploring the same materials in different ways. And that is my challenge. How can I make what we regularly use more "new"? Sometimes a little twist makes it seem new. Sometimes just challenging them to think about things in a different way. (Ask "I wonder" and see what the kids think of.) Sometimes relocating familiar resources in a new place. (Putting paper and markers in the blocks center can generate all kinds of ideas!)

Do your kids like new? How do you challenge them to explore further.


  1. I think you're totally on the right track in combining resources in an unexpected way. The dolls' house furniture on a tabletop, without the dolls' house and with small animals and small blocks, for example, makes the experience much more open-ended as well as somehow 'new'. Putting things that are usually on tables on the floor, and vice-versa. Adding something surprising with lots of possibilities, such as a torch and a blanket.

    Also I will sometimes set up a stimulus myself that uses resources in a different way, and see what comes of it- we used to have a set of rods that could be joined with cubes, and I made one section of 'bars' and put a plastic animal behind it. Hours of 'new' fun with a toy that had been almost exclusively been used by the boys to make helicopter rotors.

  2. Great article, Scott, and thanks for the good idea, Annie about the dollhouse. I agree, that children like consistent materials in the classroom, but they always gravitate to the new. Motivates me to be attentive to rotation of materials.