A few weeks ago I wrote about remembering the basics in the classroom. In that post, I focused on using blocks.
This week I started teaching kindergartners at my church again. We had 10 brand-new kindergartners.
I put out our blocks...and I'm so glad I did. The kids used them and used them. Some would move to other things and then back to the blocks again.
This week I brought out "wood pieces" that supplement the blocks.
These wood pieces were assembled a few years ago. I went to the craft store and walked down the wood aisle. I found trim pieces and dowels. I found spools, some that look like flower pots, and some that look like candlesticks. I found wavy craft sticks and a few wide crafts sticks, too.
We had a few swords and shooters, but most kids experimented with how they could create with them.
Later, Cindy noted how watching their play helped us discover more about our new group of kids. We discovered who is the leader/thinker/instigator. We saw who immediately wanted to try what this leader thought up. We saw kids who would work together and experiment. We saw those who liked to work alone. We saw those who were protective of what they did and those who would just knock over what they did and begin again. Very enlightening.
That's one reason I love play and exploration. I can find out things about my learners and begin to think of ways to stretch them.
I also learned that blocks will be a busy area in our classroom this year. We will need to think about different ways to challenge thinking and learning. And we will always have some construction activities to keep these kids busy exploring.
I think my favorite moment happened as we were cleaning up. The kids put away the blocks and supplemental pieces. Cindy ask a group of boys to pick up the block bin and carry it to the cabinet. I took the bin and set it on the shelf, asking for help pushing it inside.
"Good-bye, blocks!" five voices called as we slid the bin in and closed the door. They sounded just like they were seeing off a friend.
And I guess they were. That friend will be back out in the room when they return.