Tuesday, June 5, 2012

One Thing Always Leads to Another

All that was plopped was a 10 ft. plastic raingutter bridged between two tables and held in place with sticky putty (that you use to hang things on the wall) and a mixture of magnetic items  ( 1-2" pipe cleaner bits, paper clips and magchips) and mag-wands.  ****KNOW YOUR CREW!! ARE THESE ITEMS SAFE FOR YOUR PARTICULAR GROUP OF CHILDREN??****

My only expectation was that the children would discover moving the items in the raingutter using the mag-wands UNDER the raingutter.   We had previously made some other discoveries through magnet play, and I wanted to see if they would take that knowledge and apply it to a different situation. 
At first, my crew used the mag-wands on top of the raingutter..fun, but not as fun as what I had invisioned.  I quietly observed...and waited for more discoveries.
Eventually, through trial and error, the discovery I was patiently anticipating happened.  Superman (on the right in the above photo) discovered it completely by accident...actually, it was flower child on the left that discovered it, but it was Jack's wand that made it happen.  Flower child saw the pipecleaners mysteriously moving as Jack was just carelessly dragging his wand along the outside of the raingutter..,  They both were thrilled, even though Superman really didn't have a clue as to what he had done to cause such excitment!

As always happens when children are given TIME to PLAY, one thing leads to another.  My crew (or as one of my reader's refers to young children, my "littles"  LOVE THAT!!) added the next plop: metal balls from a Magtastik set I bought several years ago.  ****please note, this toy has been recalled due to some smaller pieces in the set...BUT, the metal balls that came in it are AWESOME for magnet play!*****
Two year old Molly is making things happen, a BIG deal for a two year old!

Adding the balls created conflict.  Conflict in play is a GOOD THING.  How else can we practice conflict resolution if we never have conflict?  The balls took up the entire space in the raingutter...no ball could go past another ball.  The other conflict was the pipecleaner pieces made it difficult to maneuver the balls.  Problem solving and conflict resolution....both resulted in teamwork.... LOVE IT!!

As interest and motivation fades, we "professional brain developers" get the esteem honor of assisting in one thing leading to another.  We can have just as much fun as the children by staying one step ahead of them and quietly plopping new things that takes the current play in yet another direction. 

After observing some pretty impressive conflict resolution and problem solving,  I thought it would be fun to add some color mixing to this activity.

Enter plop #3 stage right:  paint. 

The "littles" had removed the assortment of smaller magnetic objects (pipe cleaner bits etc.) in order to run the balls more smoothly (YES! Problem solving!), so I just quietly squirted in some yellow paint and stepped back to observe.  OH THE EXCITMENT!!

One color isn't nearly as fun as two!  So blue was added next, and shortly after...red was requested!

I love that the children cannot see their hands when they are doing this activity.  It helps with their spatial awareness (aka:  proprioception....just being aware of where our parts are in space and moving them where we need them to be without looking at them).  I also love that they were making things happen in an entirely new way!  How empowering!

Gavin is testing his own hypothesis:  Can the ball be passed from one magnet to the next?

The child on the right was having a lot of trouble with her ball getting stuck in the paint, and the magnet losing contact with the ball.  She showed a tremendous amount of persistance...never once did she give up...she just tried and tried and tried.  Persistance is a very valuable, life-long skill!
Again...one thing led to another with a little assistance from me.  As the larger magnetic balls started to get difficult to manuever from the increasing amounts of paint,  I traded them out for the smaller magnetic balls similiar to these available at Discount School Supply (mine are slightly bigger then regular marble size, the ones on this link have a 1 1/4 inch diameter)
The awesome thing about the magnetic marbles is they are smaller, and can squiggle all over the place, leaving behind really fun trails!  They could also STRING together (which happened to be our mystery word on this day!)

The children were mesmerized by the squiggles they were making in the paint.  (Squiggle would be a GREAT mystery word to accompany this activity as well!  You could combine it with this SIMPLE plop)

Ty was proud of his discovery...the balls can string together AND he can make them hang from the side!!

The boys are testing previous knowledge with new materials...SUCCESS!  It works! 

Working independently together.  When the moment arises, teamwork was incorporated in an otherwise independent moment.  Then enter in problem solving when each boy's marbles stuck together making a string of marbles.  How to get them unstrung without touching the paint-covered marbles.  It was interesting to watch the problem solving through trial and error.  They finally resolved that they had to touch the marbles.  Neither wanted to take the time to get messy -- it was quite humorous to listen to the debate! :)

Ty ( on the right) is demonstrating his previously discovered technique of taking the marbles up the side of the raingutter as Ethan prepares to lead his marbles past Ty's. The forethought and planning involved in order to orchestrate this was very impressive.
The moral of this post: 
  • Give children TIME TO PLAY. 
  • Let one thing lead to another. 
  • Be present, think ahead and be prepared to assist when necessary in order to help one thing lead to another.