Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Power of Nothing

Too often I depend on my "expertise" to evaluate what I do in the classroom. I was reminded recently that I need to rely on the expertise of my kids to decide what works.

We were focusing on a Bible story about repairing the temple. One of the suggested activities was to place paint containers and brushes with the blocks. The kids could pretend to paint their structures. Since our kids love to use blocks, I'm always looking for ways to provide supplemental resources or different ideas. When I read about this particular activity, I (at least mentally) rolled my eyes. I didn't think the kids would be remotely interested in pretending to paint (since we really paint often in the classroom). But, I figured I would put out the containers and brushes and the kids could ignore them like they ignore other things. It wouldn't hurt anything.

One girl arrived a little early. She began to pretend to paint blocks and asked me to guess each individual color. We played this game for a while. She "painted" several blocks as she built.

She moved on to other things and so did I.

A boy began to build. He's one of our regular builders. After constructing a tall building, he asked about the brushes. We told him he could pretend to paint his building. "I'm making it all red," he said as he brushed all over his structure.

Okay, I admit it. This activity was a fun idea for kids. They did build around the brushes and not use them all the time. But they did have fun with them, too.

I'm reminded of two things.

1. I must stay open to all ideas. I shouldn't think that what I "know" is always right. Yes, my instincts, knowledge, and judgment are good guidelines. But I shouldn't remain closed to an idea that is a little different from my own.

2. I don't need a lot of stuff to teach. Oh, I have lots of things. My D.S.D.D. keeps me stocked up with all kinds of things. But sometimes the most powerful teaching tool is nothing. Nothing triggers the imagination and can increase creativity. We don't need lots of toys or objects to learn. Nothing can do quite nicely.

I'll be looking for ways to use nothing more often in my classroom.

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