Monday, July 2, 2012

The Puzzle

We have a puzzle in our room that's a fairly straight-forward puzzle, as puzzles usually are. At least that's what I thought.

Four kids in a line. Take out the pieces and put them back in. At least that's what I thought.

But you can create new configurations of kids. Different unusual kids.

And you can create a really, really tall (and really, really odd) person.

Oh, the howls of laughter when we create these different people.

These are the wonderful surprises that I love to see when teaching young kids. These are the "paychecks" I get. I love it when kids think outside the box (or outside the puzzle frame, literally, in this case). Exploration and play are so important to helping kids see possibilities and try out ideas.

Sometimes I talk with teachers who seem a little afraid of free play and choices and kids' explorations. They want a more structured (and secure for them) atmosphere. I get that. I don't want things out of control or crazy or chaotic.

But kids all doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time means I miss an artistic moment. Or a two-story structure. Or a really, really tall person.

And a calm and quiet classroom isn't worth missing those things. At least that's what I think.


  1. I LOVE this, Scott!! Such a great example of how easily young children slip into creative, divergent thinking - even when the materials are clearly not intended (by the grown-ups) to be used that way. And you are a great example of a teacher who sees the value of that creativity - and humor! We keep hearing that today's children will need to be creative innovators as adults but they don't become that overnight. They need LOTS of opportunities like this to think outside the box (or puzzle frame, in this case) without adults corralling them to do things the "right" way. Thanks so much for sharing this, Scott!

  2. You hit the nail on the head, Scott. Some teachers and adults are out of their comfort zone when kids don't colour between the lines, so to speak. But it's colouring outside the lines that leads to greatness.