Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Building Nests

We've been building on our focus on family lately by talking about homes. This started one day when I asked a child to put a toy in its home. "We can find its home, LC. I remember it lives in a basket on the shelf. Hmmm where is that basket?" IS shouted "Home! Home!" as he pointed to the basket we had been searching for. VR looked at it quizzically, "That's the home?" I nodded, "It's where this toy lives when we aren't using it. It's the home for this toy."
We've talked before about the "homes" for different toys and where things "live" in our classroom. Something different clicked for VR in that moment, though. He studied the toy then told me, "My mama lives at my home." This immediately sunk in with the other children and shouts of "Mama!" "Dada!" rung out across the room (it's rather amazing how just four children can fill a room with sound). I nodded and replied to VR, "Your mama lives at your home. Your grandpa and grandma live there, too!"

VR then prodded me further, "LC's grandpa lives at her home?" I thought for a second on what to say back to him exactly then said, "Nope. Just LC's mama, daddy, and sister live in her home. QM's grandma lives in his home, though! Just like you." The conversation continued from here, talking about who lived in who's home. That afternoon, the children paid considerably more attention to the doll house that had been living in our room for quite some time.

We've expanded on looking at homes in many ways. One of the most prominent has been the exploration of gathering and building "homes" with materials both inside and outside. Inside we've utilized string, paper scraps, and many other things to build these sort of "nests" as homes. Sometimes people from our dollhouse live in the homes. Sometimes a paint brush lives in the home. Sometimes nothing lives in it.

Outside, though, the children utilized sticks for building with. On their own, they began gathering sticks one day. I joined them, looking for sticks of all different sizes to put into their gathering baskets. At one point LC dropped her basket. She began to gather the sticks back up and I sat next to her to help. I noticed the sticks kind of made a pattern and pointed it out to LC. "LC, look! It's kind of like a sun." She laughed and began moving the sticks around. WG was watching nearby and dumped his sticks out then began building them into what looked to be like a nest. IS, who hadn't been gathering sticks with us, noticed and came over to join us in building.

Before long, the children had added rocks into their building and expanded on the way the sticks were linked together. Sometimes it looked like a nest. Sometimes it was a simple pattern. Sometimes it was much more complex. After they finished creating their basic shape, the child would step back and survey their work. Often it seemed the image before them didn't quite meet the expectation the child had, so they'd search for more sticks or rocks to add. So far the children haven't incorporated other materials into their building on their own, but I have a few provocations in mind that might capture their interest!

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