Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hula Hoops

As we welcome spring we come out of our shells and begin renewing and refreshing in many aspects of our lives. At Tumbleweed, our spaces most notably show the effects of renewing and refreshing. Recently we added some amazing diggers to our sand area. A more recent addition, though, comes in the form of colored hula hoops. First, only one hula hoop came out. The children were intrigued by it. What could you do with it? Does it stretch? We practiced patience and made plans for taking turns as we explored this first hula hoop. Then more hula hoops came out at our next outdoor time.

Play exploded as the hula hoops came out. Children bounced their hula hoops. They swung them in circles around their arm. They hula hooped with them around their waists. For a while, the explorations stopped here. Individuals used the hula hoops one at a time on just their own bodies. Children worked on body awareness, balancing, using their core strength to move the hoop, and critical thinking as they tested out various theories as to how to use their hoop.

Today, though, there was a distinct turn in how the hoops were being used. At first SC tested out what would happen if they put their hoop around others. He carefully placed it around another child while holding it away from himself. This created mixed results. Sometimes the child would climb through the hoop while other times SC would move the hoop around as the other child attempted to walk with him- matching their movements to his so they could stay inside the hoop.

QM and HR watched this for a while then decided they could do something similar! QM slipped the hoop around himself then said to HR, "Make a train with me!" HR grabbed the back of the hoop and began walking along with QM. LC approached, "I want to be a train, too!" She grabbed on to QM's hoop. Then AS walked over, "I can be another train car!" She then asked HR, "Can I put my hoop over you?" HR nodded so AS slipped her hoop over him and followed along in this fashion. The train game took up much of our afternoon outside time. It would involve anywhere from two children to six!

Sometimes the train stopped moving but the kids didn't- this resulted in falling down. Everyone laughed and checked in with one another. They worked together to get back up and start their train again. This is big emotional work! We can fall and it's okay! We can make our train again even though it broke apart! Slowly the children tested out a central idea we all spend our lives working on: When somethings breaks, we can fix it.

Sometimes too many kids held on to one hoop! It was too hard for the person moving that hoop to walk when this happened. The children would stop their train and work together to fix the problem. How many can hold on to one hoop? Do we need another hoop? Can some kids move to a different part of the train? What happens if more than one child walks inside of the hoop? Does that make it easier to walk? Testing out these theories pushed the children's problem solving skills to new levels. They were so engrossed in their work with the hoops that they didn't stop at any time. If anyone became frustrated another child would pipe up with a suggestion that renewed everyone's energy, resolve, and patience. They felt confident about working together! Here they worked on another central idea we all spend our lives working on: We can be a team if we each have the space to feel heard and seen.

It's been exciting to watch how the hoops have revitalized not only our space but the children's play. I'm excited to see what other ways the hoops will be used over the next few weeks! What other materials can we use with the hoops? As we continue to explore them will more uses for our hoops come to light? What other skills can we work on as we use them? And, most importantly:  just how many of us can fit inside one hoop?

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