Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spontaneity Wins Again

Once again, I was reminded that the best learning, more often then not, happens when I set my plans aside! 

On this particular day, I had a lot of color mixing opportunities planned.  We were going to discover orange. (we were in the midst of preparing for Leprechaun Day, and that involves LOTS of colors!!) The "mystery word" for the day however, was "ramp".  I anticipated setting up one station with ramps along with the plethora of coloring mixing stations I had planned.  I never saw this bit of spontaneity in the horizon at all...I even wore my "I don't care clothes" anticipating messy play today!

Boy...was I wrong!

Instead, we spent the ENTIRE morning playing with ramps.  And not just any ramps.....

It started when Bergen(5) sounded out the mystery word and excitedly told everyone that it was "RAMP!!!".

I asked one simple question in response to their excitment:  "What can we use to make a ramp?"

HERE'S HOW SPONTANEITY ENTERED IN: Just by chance, when I asked the above question, the corner of my eye caught the aluminum foil that I store in a behind the door storage thing-a-ma-jig.  My gears started churning (my gears tend to do that....a LOT)....wouldn't it be awesome to make ramps out of foil, rolls of paper, paper towel etc.  Non-traditional ramps?  BIG ramps!

My mind was zipped back to reality as the boys eagerly answered the question with "the car ramps!"

My response:  "Yes!  We can....but.....let's be clever today should we?  What ELSE can we use as a ramp?"

We then discussed exactly what a ramp needs to do....and THEN the ideas started coming from every direction!

"Our noses are ramps!"
"Our hair can be a ramp!"
"HEY!  My arm can be a ramp!"

"YES!  YES!  YES!"

Then I held up the foil. "Could we use this for a ramp?  Paper?"

Then more answers:  "Books can be ramps!"  "The dress up bucket lid can be a ramp!"  "Your guitar case can be a ramp!"

That is how it began.....and the following photo journal is how one discovery lead to another and another....  Enjoy!

This giant box housed our treadmill.  It has been an important part of the daycare for 3 years.
It is where we play with little legos...but it's also been a pirate ship, a bus and a cave
to name a few uses.

Lift up the box on one end...and we have a ramp!  Use some plastic
square jars at the other end and you've invented a really fun game!

See the learning here?  Cooperation, teamwork, eye-hand coordination
visual motor planning, small motor and large motor skills (not to mention
cause and effect!)

The room was transformed into ramp world!  The white ramp is made out
of paper (from a giant roll of paper I got years ago .... it has lasted us FOREVER!!), the
metalic one is foil, and the closest one is an old shower curtain I use
to protect the floor if we are doing something messy on the carpet.  We attached
them all with packaging tape

A yellow cement form (aka: the tube) was added to the fun!

I love opportunities for children to work together towards a
common goal.

It did not take long for us to discover that not only can balls go down a ramp,
but they can also go up!  Notice Amelia in the orange..she just launched
two balls at the same time...that takes a lot of planning and coordination!

They decided to use the tube to launch balls down the paper ramp.
Jack had made about 6 attempts at getting balls into the tube.  He was successful
half of the time....Ty (the boy holding the tube) was incredibly patient and supportive
of all of Jack's efforts.

When the tube had enough balls in it.... FIRE AWAY!  Was yelled
and the tube was tipped, turning it into a ramp dumping the balls onto
the paper ramp.

Lindsey (in the black pants) is my "gatherer".  She LOVES to gather items in jugs, bags or buckets and
just haul them around. 

Lindsey combined her love of gathering with fun ramp play. 

Ty and Bergen worked together to create this colorful avalanche
of balls rolling down the shower curtain ramp

Gavin was quite proud of the collection of balls he had gathered.
I'm certain it was not easy to carry!  Look at the focus and pride on
his face!!  (Erik, in the forefront, is my thrower...he was demonstrating
great self control to not whip all these balls all over the room...I was impressed!)

Climbing a step stool with your hands full of a big load and
without having anything to lean on is incredibly hard and requires
much motor control and strength!



Lindsey was so proud to be caring this bucket because of it's size.
It's made of mesh, so is VERY light...but just carrying something
that is larger then you is QUITE rewarding!  It's important to note that
my gatherer only filled this HUGE bucket with FOUR balls!!  Every time she did
it....four balls! :)

Can you guess Ethan's favorite color?

What to do when you have had enough ramps?  Cozy up and let a friend
read you a story!

I came upon this scene.  It's important to note that I had nothing to do with this.
The kids organized themselves to accomplish the task of filling the tube
with balls.  MOST impressive!

A long way from the top!

Each child deposited their collection of balls

INCREDIBLE patience and support for each other was
demonstrated as they all stood in line waiting their turn!
What a valuable skill to practice!!

At last....we were getting to the top!

Everyone who helped fill the tube, got to help lift it up and watch the
resulting avalanche of balls!!

And there you have it.  Two hours spent exploring using cause and effect, teamwork, cooperation, patience, trial and error, large and small muscles, coordination and visual planning.  Two hours making discoveries, fostering curiosity, counting, and sorting.

The best part?!  The kids had no clue they we were polishing important life-long skills and preparing for future challenges the entire time!!  In their minds, they were just PLAYING!