Last week our villain exploration led us to analyzing slightly more ambiguous bad guys. We began with the traditional tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Separating the characters in the story was easy enough, but when it was time to choose who the bad guy was, the class could not make a unanimous decision. Most recognized that a girl coming into your home when you are not there, and then damaging your things, makes for a not very nice girl. However, a couple of children held out to the bitter end that our blonde antagonist was the victim in the tale.
Many of the centers for the week focused on parts of Goldilocks. Using their grey matter and retelling skills, the children worked as a team to recreate the story for a class book. Each child illustrated and recalled a different portion of the story. Once it has been compiled and bound, it will be available in our book box for the children to read.
Another group explored the concepts of big, medium, and little while building with magna-tiles. They were instructed to design a home for each of the three bears according to their size. Although we have had many experiences with these blocks, it was surprisingly difficult to construct three separate sizes. Most of the children built only two sizes while a few built three homes of the same stature.
In our quest to understand Villains and “Good Guys” this week, we’ve been focusing on versions of “The Three Little Pigs”. We’ve read the classic tale, as well as “The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig”, by E. Trivizas and “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs”, by J. Scieszka. After reading the original story, it was quite obvious who the villain and good guys were. The second tale, though a complete opposite of the first, was also easy to categorize with the pigs now being the villains. The final story, however, took a little bit more thought. If you haven’t read it already, it is a retelling of the original, but from the wolf’s point of view. He claims that he was never big and bad, but instead simply had a cold. Supposedly he visited the pigs looking for a cup of sugar for his “dear, sweet granny” and accidentally sneezed their houses down. In this story, the pigs weren’t truly “bad”, but they weren’t very nice either.
For one of this week’s activities, the children were charged with the task of recreating the three houses from the original tale of “The Three Little Pigs”. The first groups attacked the problem of building a straw house. Mrs. Pless and I envisioned how this structure might come together, but as usual, the first group of children’s ideas diverged completely from the adults. Their plan was to form a square frame using four straws and tape. They then filled in the center with additional straws laying side-by-side. The second group considered the first set of walls and decided to continue in this manner. One boy began making a much larger rectangle, but changed his mind when he decided that it would end up using all of the straws. (The problem solving going on during this project was amazing to behold.) The final group connected the four walls and attempted a few roofs before settling on a completed design.
A separate group of children worked on recreating the stick house. For this project, we introduced a large version of connecting logs. It took a bit of experimentation to figure out how to stack the logs in a stable fashion. Once they realized that they needed to place the long logs and the short logs alternately, it came together rather quickly. When they reached the problem of designing a roof, they knew that they wanted to include the triangle blocks they had found, but weren’t sure how to use them. They decided that a flat roof would be sufficient and placed the triangles on top to represent a chimney instead.
Our block house was built today. This final group used Duplo blocks represent the brick building. When they began, the structure came together a bit like a mountain with spires of blocks jutting off on all sides. Eventually, someone noticed that there was not a space on the inside to house the pigs. Down came the house and a new plan was drawn up. The bricks were rearranged into a hollow rectangle with more traditional walls sprouting up the sides. At first there were many holes in the structure that required filling as they went along. Later, once they became more accomplished at fitting the pieces together, there were fewer gaps. When they were ready to make a roof, the sides needed to be adjusted since each person’s side was of a different height. Luckily it came together in the end.
Hopefully, we’ll find a way to display all three houses in the main entrance of the school so you will be able to check out these construction endeavors.
When comparing the three renditions of “The Three Little Pigs”, we wondered which story seemed to be the most believable to our young listeners. We posted a Morning Message that asked, “Who do you believe, the wolf or the pigs?” Surprisingly, the majority of the children chose the wolf as the teller of truth. I’m wondering if this might be related to this age groups’ fascination with all things “bad” and “evil”.
If you happen to watch a large group of 4-6 year-olds play long enough, you’ll see what I’m talking about. One of the favorite themes in play every year is to be the bad guys or the evil (unicorn, horse, Batman, fairy, fill-in-the-blank). Young children are drawn to this type of play. Battling the bad guy allows children to enact control over their fears and anxieties about what they perceive to be good and evil in the world around them. Being the bad guy lets them play with the power they imbue on villains. This type of play lets the children work through their fears and impulses in a safe environment, where they know that they and their friends are not really bad, but only acting.