I am a floater: using the “Amazingly Awesome” boards in Pinterest, surfing the blog-o-sphere for an afternoon to carefully engineer the next great experience for my Abundant Life crew. I float from one good idea to the next. It’s not a trait I am altogether aware of, proud of, or would tout as “best practice” among my early childhood colleges. The reason is this: while novelty spikes a momentary flurry of activity, familiarity is the fertile ground from which competence can bloom. Unless children are afforded numerous and extended periods of time with the same materials, they can’t deepen their understanding of the why, the what if or the when behind its workings. Take my awesome pipe construction set (thank you, Do It Yourself Early Learning). I purchased the materials, and with the help of my ceaselessly talented and supportive partner-in-crime (thank you, Ezra!), cut the pieces to length and introduced them to the crew. But I didn’t get them out very often. They fit so neatly on one of the shelves up high in our space, and took forethought to pull them out of their bin. Out of sight = out of mind, and the crew didn’t ask for me to take them down. Plus, now that I had introduced them, I moved onto the next greatest experience.
Here is what I have discovered from my time in early childhood. Children need to have experiences with materials to construct meaning, and that meaning grows deeper with each exploration. True, toys and materials left out day after day lose their novelty, and become dust-collectors-extraordinaire, but introducing something once does not allow enough time to explore and discover. So no matter how much I want to move on to the cool new what-have-you I just discovered, I am committed to fostering deeper knowledge through deep explorations that span days and weeks – not just hours.
Here’s a look at some of the amazing things we did with our pipe construction set recently. A normally hot May 31 surprised us with drizzly 50 degree weather, so we relocated our outside water day inside, using towels to help support the curious explorers.
We set up this tower:
Learned that the bottom funnel didn’t catch all the water.
Worked better like this:
Found a faucet
Discovered a bathtub
Used tape to solve a wobbly funnel problem
Found some of the crew who preferred giving baths to pouring through funnels, added some liquid watercolor, and bathed the animals and babies.
Not bad for a day’s work. The pipe construction set has stayed in circulation, recently outside with our water table. More stories another day of the new and genius creations with the building set as familiarity grows! Happy Monday!