It started off simple enough. Shredded paper. Sensory tub. But by the time we were finished, we had bird’s eggs, buttons, feathers, sorting, nests, and (of course) some hand-eye-coordination practice via the vacuum cleaner. Part of my philosophy is that children (all people, really) deserve the right to engage their passions, follow their impulses, and control their learning, and that an outcome of making this kind of space for children is a set of lifelong learning skills that become the foundation for later success. As early childhood educators, we facilitate those endeavors by supporting the social and emotional interactions and offering materials to enable exploration.
We started off with a tub of shredded paper, and shortly after, added some of our own water colored wooded beads that we’d dyed the day before. I envisioned adding water, but that grew unnecessary as the play evolved, and would have actually interrupted a flow that was beginning. Those of us who work with young children recognize this dance: moving on from one exploration or extending an offering of materials too quickly can be obnoxious at best, or damaging to lifelong skills of endurance and persistence at worst. Still, not moving on quickly enough can leave children at a simple place – looking for more to extend their learning, creating boredom and passivity. The dance is delicate, and I have yet to master all of the footwork. Still, on this day, I’m pleased to say that the crew and I were waltzing with the best.
Not long after we filled the tub, the crew found the wooden beads and started to make nests. Then, Tekoa decided she needed birds to make the scenario complete. We pulled down the art tub, and I let her look through until she found the materials she needed. Then we got out the hot glue gun and worked together to create some flying creatures. Meanwhile, Addie and Cadence created a nest with cubby boxes, and Simone found buttons and began sorting. Everything evolved seamlessly with each dancer carefully constructing what they needed to bring their learning to the next level. I supported, offering language to help solve a problem, or materials to help extend the play.
Take a look at the pictures to find out how we opened our next morning of play…