We spent the morning in the woods on Friday. After a summer of heavy rains, our fort was certainly worse for wear. After removing all of the fallen logs and sorting them by size, we were ready to rebuild.
I put up the first few large logs, building the base, but after that, the children took charge of collecting sticks and deciding on placement. A few of the larger logs were farther from our construction. Team work was required to move these behemoths through the undergrowth.
One of the largest logs provided us with an addition, almost doubling the size of the design. While we built, the children used their forest journals for the first time. Many drew our new fort.
Once the children deemed the building complete, a few chose to add small details to decorate the inside. Flowers were added as well as a phone. Some of the leaves were swept away revealing a carpet of soft moss inside.
One of our favorite pastimes in Pre-K is inventing something new with a box. This fall, we had a huge assortment of boxes at our disposal. Before we began designing, we read both Jane Yolen’s What to Do With a Box and Dana Meachen Rau’s A Box Can Be Many Things. We realized that there were so many possibilities, it would be hard to choose just one giant project. To help us narrow our focus, we closed up all of the boxes and pretended they were blocks, instead. After some preliminary “block building” with the pieces we had on hand, a few ideas came to the forefront.
Options provided by the children included a boat, a rocket, a cat, and a castle. One morning, we all voted to find out which design we should choose. At ten votes, creating a castle was easily the most popular choice.
In the past, we’ve always depended upon duct tape for our box construction needs. This morning we began using some new child-friendly box tools. While the hand saws were fun to use, they were a bit difficult for our Pre-K hands to manipulate. However, I was quite impressed with the resilience of the many that returned to using the saws again and again. The screws and screwdrivers were much more comfortably applied. In fact, you might notice that many screws grace our castle as pure decoration.
When the final walls had been battened down, groups of children went off on their own to create accessories. So far we have a chair, a trash can, and two mailboxes. Signs and flags were also quickly posted on the structure.
It’s hard to believe this entire project was put together in one morning. I wonder what direction it will take tomorrow?
Our cup creations have evolved from balancing to creating large scale pictures. As the children were building this image, they discussed the placement of the colors to create a shark. I noticed something a bit different when looking from my head height.
When the children realized what I was smiling about, they wished to see from my perspective as well.
Now much of our building must be viewed from “up high.”
Our box building has been such a hit, Mrs. Pless and I thought the children might be ready for some more advanced building. Time to break out the Toydle set! We cleared some space, modeled how to piece the pipes and cubes together and our little engineers began designing. The adults needed to squish a few connections for proper sturdiness, but the design is all theirs.
This construction required experiments in balance, sharing, symmetry, motor planning, design choices, visualization, problem solving and team work. Go Pre-K Engineering Team!
While in P.E. earlier this week, the class created a new venue using the Imagination Playground. When I arrived to pick them up, I was ushered into our new, fancy shoe store. There were displays of “shoes” and a register area to check out your purchases. Workers would measure your feet and choose a shoe to fit your needs. Some of the shoes were fancy and some were for hiking. Now, I just need to get some tape, paper, and pens over there so they can make price tags and labels!
You might remember that a few weeks ago one of our students was inspired by our box-0-saurus and created his own horse. Along a seemingly unrelated vein, some of you also might have heard that we’ve been working on writing a play. (I was über inspired by Teacher Tom on this one!) Today, the horse took on a new job and personality. He has been dubbed a “War Horse”. Since we were trapped indoors due to the weather, we had a lot of time for tinkering today.
Just in case you don’t remember, here is how our lovely horse began:
Our play, which will be unveiled in the next few days, underwent some rewriting today. We added new characters, changed the plot a bit, and added an ending. Though it was quite fun to act out our third version of the script, I wasn’t sure if this project was making it into the collective mindset of the students. I was shown just how influential the idea has been when a group began making “props” for the play during our inside “recess”.
While this project was being constructed, I was attending a fashion show on the other side of the room. When I realized there was some major construction going on in the block area, I sidled over to find out what the hubbub was about. I was amazed to find over half the class working on this project. Some of the children wandered in for short periods of time, adding just a few details, while others spent over an hour (throughout the day) on it.
I, of course wanted to know why we needed a War Horse. Why, for the play, of course! Silly me. I guess the fact that there is not actually a war in the play is not really a good enough reason to skip having a War Horse. With all of this focused work, I wanted to know more about the design.
Although at first glance, it looks as though the children haphazardly taped random pieces of cardboard together, they describe it with much more intentional thought. They pointed out a row of pipes that make music, a small cannon at the front, armor to protect it from Army Men, rear defense systems, headphones, and speakers. I find it interesting that the ability to listen to music was considered paramount to at least two separate students. Who knew music was a prerequisite for a War Horse?
Watching them build this creation as a team is inspiring. They’ve gone from creating their first dinosaur with Mrs. Allan (where they built what she told them), to building an Ankylosaurus with me (where I built what they told me), to this. Here, they built what they decided upon without any input from adults. The previous experiences gave them just enough practice to feel confident and ready to experiment with the tools in their own way.
On Wednesday we had planned to begin construction on our box-o-saurus. I spread the boxes out on the floor, had paper ready for drawing plans, and asked the children to imagine the type of dinosaur we could build using boxes. Silly me! They informed me that it was impossible to build a dinosaur from boxes because they were the wrong shape. Ah, what to do?
“Well”, I said, “let’s see if we can build them out of blocks first, then.” No one even batted an eye. Off they went, gathering the materials they needed. Each child constructed their own version of a dinosaur. Some made the one they are studying for their research journals, others tried their hand at the ever popular sauropod.
Eventually, the children realized that their dinosaurs could not be complete without some added details. Faces were drawn, eyes were cut out, and signs were hung to make our models complete. As one sign points out, the dinosaurs in our museum should be looked at and not touched for fear of breaking them.