Looking more closely at the winter homes we saw illustrated in yesterday’s book, we decided to try our hand at creating our own. Today we explored creating caves and burrows using supplies in our block area.
Child A: “We almost had the same idea, but then we didn’t.”
Child B: “Yeah, but we were building the same thing, but I didn’t have enough blocks.”
“Now….how do we make roofs?”
Child A: “Oh my gosh! I know how to make this!”
Child B: ” Me, too! I have a great idea!”
Child A: “No, no…I have a great idea.”
Child B: “We need a little help. It’s like, falling over.”
Child B: “How about we slide it in and it holds it?”
Child A: “There we go! And put these here.”
Child A and B: “Yea! We did it!!!!”
Child A: “We need that roof on there.”
Child B: “We need something to block them.”
Child A: “We…..aaaaaaaaa [blocks fall down]…That’s ok!”
Child B: “This is the shelter so the relaxing place doesn’t get rained on.”
Child A: “This is where the garage is and this is where the balance beam for them to walk on.”
“We have two animals and they are separate.”
“I’m making a nice cave for my bear to live in.”
“I’m going to change my burrow, now. My cave is going to be different from my burrow. Caves are on the Earth, up top, and burrows are underground.”
Last week, a handful of the students transformed into architects and spent several days creating a city landscape in our block center. The city included parking lots, a school, an airport, a zoo, and of course lots of buildings! Each day, the students added more features to the city such as walls (to keep the animals from escaping), bridges, and more road signs. They also designed maps for their city in case it ever needs to be repaired or remodeled. Then, this week, one of the students proclaimed that it should be called North West City. Each day, the city expands and develops into a more intricate design.
The students have worked together to problem solve when the buildings have fallen apart, where to put new structures, and what to do when they ran out of blocks. The collaboration and synergy has been effortless and is proof that that our once young, wide-eyed students are now confident and ready for kindergarten.
A common problem in Pre-K occurs when two children wish to play together, but they both want to play a different “game” or “story”. We often hear that “She/He doesn’t want to play with me!” when the real problem is that she or he doesn’t want to play one child’s story. It takes many experiences to realize wanting to play separate games is not the same as exclusion (a #1 No, No).
Here is a story from one of our Morning Messages that we used to demonstrate the common problem. I’ve also included the solutions our thoughtful young friends devised:
Once upon a time, two friends were playing in the loft. Sally wanted to play kittens but Harold wanted to play something else. Now they are arguing. What should they do?
They should talk and figure out which one to play first. -Re
They should think of a solution and start playing what they want to play. -So
They should play one game and then the other. – El
They should talk to each other. -Ra
They should make the ideas together. – O
Play something else. -Sa
They should use their imagination and decide what they should play and then play together. – Ca
They should think like Tucker Turtle and think of a thing they should do. – Cl
Our study of friends has brought up many questions. It has been illuminating to hear the solutions that the children provide. Working together is one of the struggles we encounter often in Pre-Kindergarten. When the children are sitting in a group discussing possible solutions to this quandary, they quickly come up with logical, kind ideas. However, in practice, emotions are sometimes too high to allow children to process solutions on the spot. For this reason, we intentionally provide the class with opportunities to practice working as a small group to solve a challenge.
Below you will find a video of three children designing a way to reunite a family of pandas. Within this clip you’ll find our children practicing a wide range of essential life skills (focus, perspective taking, communicating, making connections, and critical thinking) as well as other executive functions (planning, organizing, impulse and emotional control, and working memory).
The most exciting part for me was watching as they persisted with a challenge even in the face of failure. Twice, their idea completely collapsed Not once did they give up.
This week, the students began experimenting with the big blocks and what could be created while playing with them. At first, they were used to make buildings of various sizes and shapes, but that interest quickly waned. It wasn’t until they realized how much fun it was to sit/stand on the blocks that real excitement began. It was then that our airplane was born.
Props were quickly found so that some students could pretend they were the pilot (or multiple co-pilots) while some students started designing props that the passengers might need. It was quickly designated that pilots were those that wore headphones (or pirate hats) and passengers were anyone who could fit on the blocks behind them. One child even made a TV and a remote out of paper so that she would have something to do on the flight. Only the best for our passengers!
Next came the pilot’s instructions. It was vital for the passengers to know what they could and could not do while on the plane. Perhaps it mostly involved things they were not allowed to do, including wearing hats, but it was imperative that the passengers listened to each instruction carefully and followed them without question.
Soon enough, we were in the air and snacks/drinks were dispensed to all, despite the previous instructions not to eat or drink during the flight. However, the trip was short lived. Before we knew it, we were landing at our destination and grabbing our luggage from underneath the plane. The pilots politely bid the passengers farewell and then began preparing for their future flights.