Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Glue Gun

Provocations are one of the many ways we offer open-ended, guided discovery to the children throughout the day. They can also be a way to build on what children are interested in or currently working on in the classroom. Maybe a child has shown a lot of interest in water play outside. We could incorporate this with indoor provocations by offering an experiment table with water and a few other materials or perhaps a water color table. We could also incorporate it outside by using a large tub and a few objects to manipulate water with. Ideas for provocations are countless. Often, children themselves will set out a provocation for the morning or afternoon tables!

Recently, our classroom has been pretty focused on building in general. This led me to look at how we could offer different types of building on our provocation tables one afternoon. I always like to have at least one table that gives children a chance to fine tune the fine motor movements of holding a pen, pencil, or some other writing utensil so the first thing I put out was a table for building and writing words or letters.

Another building exercise we often use is the curlers. I set them out in a circle pattern and paused- it still looked empty. I didn't feel that the provocation looked very inviting. What else could we use to build with the curlers? Before long I had found a few other small materials- paper shreds and cu-tips- that could easily be incorporated into building with the curlers. We liked to have at least 3-4 provocations set up at once so this still left a few more tables to be put together.

What else could incorporate our love of building, though? I wanted to do something that wasn't necessarily building with small blocks or dominoes- both of which are provocations I often find myself setting up. As I perused our art shelf my eyes fell on the glue guns we had recently bought. We hadn't used them, yet, so I wanted to set up a table where only one child could work at once. This would allow a lot of teacher interaction. I also wanted to make sure we could introduce the glue gun and discuss it's purpose, how it's used, and more before it began being used. This also led me to set out a few other gluing activities- including gluing feathers onto a canvas with our beloved glue sticks.

I had expected to introduce the glue gun before children began using it, but the way that everything unfolded was much more beautiful than anything I could have intended. In our classroom we have a glue gun connoisseur. In fact, TUS is the one who asked us to get the glue guns to begin with. Since TUS was one of the first ones up and ready for tables, he immediately spotted the glue gun and headed to it. I checked in with him to see if he needed any instruction on the use of the gun, but he assured me he knew how to proceed. Within seconds, a small group of children had circled around TUS. They attentively watched as he worked, asking questions about the gun and the different parts.

TB pointed to the glue sticking out the end, "What is that!? Do you push it?" TUS nodded, "Oh that! That's the glue. The gun turns it into a liquid. Watch!" He made a small dot of glue on the canvas. WK was amazed, "How did you do that!?" TUS held the gun up and showed her the lever, "You push right here." He slowly made another dot on the canvas again. This further intrigued WK, "But can you get burned?" I had told TUS earlier that the gun was a cool touch gun but he still remembered how to be extra safe while using a glue gun. He informed WK that she couldn't touch the tip of the glue gun but she could touch the lever and hold the handle in her hand. He pointed to each different part as he explained.

I was amazed at how confident TUS was in his ability to teach the others how to properly use the glue gun. As Rio and I walked by the table, we could hear him explaining different things about the gun and slowly acting out what he was explaining. After TUS was done with the table WK sat down and worked on the canvas for a long time. Every now and then a child would pass by to watch her. WK would animatedly fill them in on all of her new knowledge regarding the glue gun. Having just one child who knew and understood the procedures around the gun allowed our entire classroom to be informed about how to use it safely. TUS's mastery flowed through from one child to the next with very little guidance from either Rio or myself.

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