Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When a Plop Flops

Doesn't this look like fun?
ball ramps
Yep.  I thought so too.  It was a rainy day, my crew has energy and we hadn't played inside for weeks (thanks to gorgeous weather outside).  A ramp day was a PERFECT PLAN.           
 read more about ramp day

Lesson learned....once again, children teach me.

I thought the ramps would be fun, but when the children arrived, they played with the ramps and balls long enough to make a mess (5 minutes). 

Then, every single child migrated over to the markers, paper and tables and sat down to draw.  Of course!  Duh!  That is something we hadn't done for weeks! ( It is so windy in SD, drawing on paper outside is usually a frustrating event, yet, full of fun and valuable learning too! )

So, I let them draw....right?

Wrong....I totally reverted back to my "old ways" of telling children what we are going to do.  I was feeling frustrated about the fact that I had gone through all the trouble of setting up the ramps, and no one was playing with them. 

Do you know what I did?!  I completely broke the main rules of "plopping".

Basically a plop is:  to quietly place something new into the environment, and then FOLLOW THE CHILDREN'S LEAD.   Be PATIENT and see what evolves.  QUIETLY observe and leave your adult ideas out.

Instead of following my own rules, I said:
"Okay boys and girls.  Finish up your drawings and put the markers away.  We are going to play with the ramps."

The silence in the room was louder then all of them screaming.  The looks on their faces spoke volumes.
 I had made a mistake, and it felt awkward and icky.  My children had grown accustomed to my "plopping" ways of planning a plop, and then stepping back and following their lead, adding to the plop when asked, and assisting the children only when necessary in order to achieve their thoughts and ideas.  ( I am a huge fan of fostering young children to ask for what they need in order to solve problems and try new ideas)

I quickly saved the moment by saying:

"Would you all like to get out the great big paper and draw on the floor today?"

The smiles and excitment quickly returned as everyone finished their pictures and helped move the tables out of the way.  We drug out the roll of paper (children helping gives them ownership of the activity), rolled it across the floor and Ty cut it.

Immediately everyone found a spot around the paper and the illustrated stories began.  Children were collaborating and compromising as paper space was shared and story lines crossed.

So....what about the ramps?

I simply plopped magnets next to the paper ramp.  This time, I followed my rules,  just look what evolved:

Learning through trial and error.  Making new discoveries is very empowering for young children!  Sharing those discoveries builds confidence!!

In order for the boys to build these creations, they had to be aware of where there hand was
even when they couldn't see it.  GREAT for proprioception development, spatial awareness, visual planning and
sense of pride!

 The plop flop led to this set up on another day:

Ty created a swing!!  This swing idea later turned into airplane controls!!  Minds at work.  Using
imagination to invent something new!

When a plop flops....a lot of learning occurs, for the children AND me!!

What I learned:
1)  Children enjoy making choices and leading.
2)  Making children follow my plans just feels wrong. 
3)  I CAN trust children to lead their learning.
4)  Adding to the original plop can sometimes save a flopped plop.
5)  Relax.

What the children learned:
1)  How to communicate their needs.  They needed a quiet day...and they told me loud and clear with deafening silence, body language and facial expressions.  Quickly followed with words.
2)  They were empowered when I listened to their needs.
3)  They learned through trial and error using the magnets on the ramp.
4)  Putting magnets together when they can't see their other hand was GREAT for their proprioception development (awareness of how our body moves through space and where it is in space)
5)  Creativity, imagination, teamwork, cooperation, compromise, sharing, solving problems, learning through errors, persistance and making discoveries (to quickly name a few more!!)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Firework Painting

As we approach the 4th of July, I wanted to highlight a fantastic thing we did last year, but instead of writing about it all over again, I decided to just put a link to the original!

Happy Fourth everyone!  Take time to enjoy your family and friends!!

Firework Painting