Our Tumbleweed classroom is filled with many materials of various textures, colors, weights, and forms. Train tracks, silks, wooden animals, books, and puzzles are well loved and returned to often. Currently, our collections of various small parts receive the most attention: silver bells, round magnets, birch pieces, pom poms, seashells, chain links, and tiny mirrors are explored first thing in the morning and all throughout the day. These open-ended materials prove to be incredibly versatile, as the children use them in any number of ways.
|Loading bells into the dump truck.|
Small parts are used often in imaginary play, bells and pom poms becoming soups and cakes, and birch pieces standing in for cookies and sandwiches. Seashells are used as bottles to feed cloth babies and beaded necklaces as backpacks for going on trips. The children are constantly surprising me with their creative thinking, as ordinary objects become stand-ins for anything on their minds: self-care/caring for others, things that are “too crazy” (i.e. wouldn’t happen in reality), caring for the environment (e.g. wiping up spilled cake), things that adults do (e.g. make coffee, go to meetings), home/school routines (e.g. cooking food, going to sleep), and exciting events (e.g. riding trains, going to the zoo). Because open-ended materials suggest no “right” way of use, they have the potential to be incorporated into endless imaginary scenarios. Coupled with the children's ever-expanding use of language, they become symbolic props for complex, abstract thought.
|Using a necklace as a bandaid for an injured dragon.|