Friday, April 28, 2017

Anything Is a Possibility

blocks and basket (Brick by Brick)

Sometimes in my church kindergarten class I take a lot of photos. When I look back through those, I'm often reminded about things that I forgot. I came across this one again today. As I look at it, several things come to mind.

  1. So many things happen in a classroom each week. I forget most of them. A remark or a shared activity will often formulate in my mind. But often I forget about the moments - big and small - without reminders. I need to take photos and/or write down things to remember.
  2. Lots of learning happens in the classroom each week that isn't planned. These will also probably not be remembered individually but become part of the foundational knowledge in the child's learning.
  3. Children are creative. They see everything as a possible resource for what they are doing.
This last one has come up before. And this photo reminds me again that I put limits on my thinking so often. A basket is for holding things. I don't consider it as a possible building item. If I were working in a blocks center and needed something for the top of my building, I would have overlooked this basket. It doesn't fit my definition of building item. But my friend saw it, decided to try it, and figured out how to use it in his structure.

We do the same for children. We see them in a particular light or through a particular lens. We try to figure out how they tick and interpret everything by our conclusions. "She's quiet. She won't be interested in doing this." "He is active. He will not sit down to do that." And so forth.

But at this age...well, at just about any age...anything is a possibility. With encouragement or freedom or availability, children will do things that are completely different from our expectations. I've seen the quiet child loudly and actively engaged in a game. I've seen the active child quietly absorbed in a book or art project. We are often too quick to categorize or label or conclude. I must remember that anything is a possibility.

I'm seeing that in my own life in my current journey. I tend to label certain actions or types of situations as "teacher" and discount or overlook others. I see myself as good at certain things or able to do other things and not see beyond these limited definitions. Maybe this photo needs to be on my desk or bulletin board to remind me to think in different ways and try out other ideas.

After all - anything is a possibility.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stay Open to the Children's Creativity

Bus Stop (Brick by Brick)

Don't squelch the ideas of the children - either through what you say or how you react to them. On this particular day, blocks and people figures yielded a bus stop.

Play is all about creativity and seeing possibilities. And these are important "future skills."

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Taking a Risk by Rethinking

The word I chose for 2017 is RISK. Now I haven't done many risky things lately. In fact, I'm not really sure what risky things I should be doing.

I've been thinking about making some videos related to homemade resources or repurposing stuff. While I'm not really all that photogenic, I think this would be something to risk that still fits within my personal purpose.

I've been dabbling in writing some fiction, which is a risk. Or will be whenever I make it available to others.

There are a few other things that I think could be a risk but nothing really firm or that seems to be eminent.

Until now. (That certainly sounds ominous.)

Recently I've been thinking about this blog. I love writing. I love thinking and reflecting on play and educating young children. But I've been busy with some other things and haven't been able to write as much as I'd like over the past month or so.

So I'm taking a risk. I'm rethinking what I'm doing here. I'm wondering what this space needs to be...or if this space needs to be. What changes do I need to make? What new things need to happen here? What needs to stop? To up the risk factor, I'm writing about it now.

For now, I'm still posting - maybe not as regularly as in the past. But I want to make sure that whatever happens here, it's intentional and purposeful and helpful to someone else.

What are you risking now? Or, if you chose a word for 2017, how is it playing out in your year? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

5 Ways to Use Straws

Straws are a great resource to have on hand in your preschool or kindergarten classroom. Here are five ways we've used them in our classroom.

1. Build with them.

Or at least use them in your blocks center. We've explored all kinds of things in the blocks center and straws make interesting additions to block creations or other construction play.

2. Paint with them.

We painted on a canvas with straws and balls. The idea was to blow the practice golf balls around on the canvas. The paint was too thick or the balls too solid so blowing was a chore. Instead we batted the balls around on the canvas using the straws as bats or paddles.

You can also put paint on the paper and blow the paint to create designs. Check out the "wind art" on this post on Pre-K Pages.

3. Play games with them.

Recently we tried some challenge games. We used straws to blow cups across (and off) a table. We used straws to pick up and move tissue paper squares; suck in to attract the paper to the straw, move it, and release onto the target.

Another game to play is blowing a pom-pom along a trail. Use tape to make a trail line. Place a pom-pom on the tape and blow the pom-pom down the trail.

4. String them.

Cut the straws into short lengths. String them on a chenille craft stem to make a bracelet or on a length of yarn to make a necklace.

Add some number practice with this activity. Roll a numbered cube. Add straw pieces or other things to the bracelet or necklace.

Note: Straws could also be a part of cutting practice. Place them (and paper and other items) on a table with scissors for kids to cut and cut and cut.

5. Fly them.

The kids created a tossing/flying game with the straws and cups. They arranged the cups in a group and tossed the straws like darts or spears, trying to land them in a designated cup.

Or make a straw airplane with paper strips, tape, and straws.

Straws are a part of our regular resource collection. What have you done with straws in your classroom?

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Walk Upside Down"

I love that my kids are inventive and have great creative ideas. I'm often surprised by just how interesting and expansive their thinking can be.

We were playing a moving game in the classroom a while back. I set up two tape lines to move between. (This group needs some suggested boundaries!)

We used a large inflatable cube with pockets. (Do you have one of these? They are great for all kinds of games. You can get one here. This link is just for information; I get nothing if you buy one.)

Anyway...I digressed there for a minute. We wrote different ways to move back and forth between the lines. The kids tossed the cube and then moved from one line to the other in the way they rolled.

I put "regular" types of movements--giant steps, tiny steps, crab walk, marching, and so forth.

After a while, I said, "Would you like to change what's in the cube?" Of course, they did. I asked them to suggest things to put in the cube. Their suggestions were much more inventive than I ever thought: Walk upside down, walk like a fish, bounce like a ball, slow motion.

Did we use those? You bet. Did they roll those odd things? You bet. Did they move in the suggested ways. They certainly tried.

Sometimes I'm quick to be in charge and direct things. Or I ask for suggestions and then dismiss them as impractical or whatever. But listening to the children can be great for creativity and for fun.

And when a child rolls something like "bounce like a ball," his interpretation may be completely different than yours. But certainly interesting to watch!