In his book The Power of Play, David Elkind says, "It is almost impossible for adults to put themselves in the place of preschoolers and see the world as it appears to them." Adults cannot think like preschoolers (and preschoolers can't think like adults). That goes for skills as well as concepts. I wrote about this before; they don't know what we know. I was reminded of this again this week.
We had stickers and markers to make signs. The kids could copy a verse or write whatever they wanted or just use the stickers. I had a hole punch and yarn to make hangers for our signs.
One girl finished her sign and decided to add a hanger. She went to get the hole punch from the counter (where I left it). She turned it over in her hand. "How do you use this?" she asked. I showed her how to slide paper into the punch and squeeze really hard. She made a couple of holes.
"And now we can cut some yarn to put through the holes and make a hanger," I said.
She slid the paper into the hole punch again and began to squeeze. "Oh," I said. "You want to make more holes. Where would you like the next one?"
She punched a few more holes. We cut yarn and threaded it through two holes she selected. I helped tie it and she moved on to other adventures in the room.
A boy stepped up. He was ready to punch. I talked him through the process again, even though he had seen what the girl had done. He began to punch.
He punched around his stickers. He punched a hole in the middle of a "doughnut" sticker. After a while, he flipped his paper over so he could better see where the holes were.
We talked about technique. (It works best when the black part - the "catcher" - is on the bottom.) We looked a half holes - those punched on the edge of the paper. We emptied out all the "circles" that were caught from punching.
It even was stuck at one point. We both had to work on it to get it working again.
I forget when planning things that sometimes kids need time to practice. Practice leads to mastery. And practice takes time. Luckily, our activities are flexible, so punching hundreds of holes is okay.
Another boy came to the table to work. He picked up the scissors to cut the paper. (But the scissors were for the yarn not the paper. And these were BIG scissors not kid scissors. But....okay.)
He cut a small square and punched a hole in it. I cut a length of yarn for him. He threaded his square on the yarn. "It won't work," he said.
"What are you trying to do?" I asked. We went back and forth like this for a couple of times. "It won't work." "What do you want to do?"
Finally I said, "If you tell me what you are trying to do, maybe we can figure out a way to make it work." He told me he was making glasses. He kept turning the paper square on the yarn until I figured out he wanted the paper to hang flat from the yarn.
"Do you want it to hang like this?" I asked. "Maybe if we punch another hole, it will do what you want it to do."
We punched a hole. He threaded the yarn through that one, too. He slid it up and down the yarn to just the right place. Then he snipped off ends of yarn to the just right length and looped the yarn over his ears.
Not glasses. An eye patch!
Sometimes things don't go as you planned. They go so much better!