Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Fun of Not Sharing

RM approaches her buddy
"Does it work for you?" is one of those phrases that pops up all the time at Tumbleweed.  It's often used by a child after they state their idea for a plan - they know the plan won't work unless it works for everyone!  It's such a pleasure to see the two- and three-year-olds of Cohort 10 + 12 working on skills like negotiating, problem solving, self-advocacy and listening.  The group feels like a safe place to test out these skills and be emotionally supported while trying out new social behavior.

A frequent site of this type of problem solving is the rope swings.  We have two swings, but one is inevitably the favorite, the one that all the children want all the time!  The purple rope swing is the site of many physical feats for this group, and also a place where lots of creative problem solving takes place.

"Count to five!"
On Monday morning, LC was happily swinging away.  RM approached and asked her friend, "Can I use the rope swing?" and LC let her know, "You can use it when I'm all done."  RM looked disappointed, she didn't want to wait.  Then LC thought for a few seconds, and said, "Count to five, and then it's your turn!  Does that work for you?"

A delighted look came across RM's face: "Yeah!  It works for me!"  She ran to the other side of the maple tree from where the rope swing hangs, and shouted "One!  Two!  Three!  Four!  Five!"  Then she ran back to LC.  Both children were beaming and giggling.  LC said: "Now you count to three!  And then it's your turn!"  RM said: "Okay!" and ran off to do her counting.

This went on for several minutes, both children so pleased with this game.  RM was showing off her counting skills, of which she is so proud, and LC was still swinging on the swing, finding it hilarious that RM was doing all this counting and running.  The back and forth had turned into it's own game.  It worked for them both!
It works! 

This moment of pure fun was kid-generated and untouched by adult rules and ideas about sharing and taking turns.  It was about connection and enjoyment, not really about the rope swing at all!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Outside materials: What will you create?

Outside time is a favorite of ours at Tumbleweed. It is a time for running, jumping, playing, laughing, and overall just pure bliss-- breathing in the fresh air with the friends we love. During this time, there are a lot of activities in place between groups or even individual play. Incredibly detailed games give ample opportunities for children to collaborate together and make situations work to everyone's advantage.

What's my job? 
Where can I place this piece of wood? 
What is my role in our game?

A table set for a dinner that is being made, filled with food, drinks, and a center piece looks so enticing!

A fort or home is built using wooden materials, carefully constructed to fit the needs of those inside. Who's home is this? It is during these times when us as teachers are able to see how much work and imagination goes into these games, structures, and roles the children create. The materials we have outside are always available and are ever-changing and evolving. There is no right or wrong way to use an item in the backyard, as long as they follow the guidelines of our agreements we made together as a community.

When we are able to utilize the full extent of our imagination without limitations, we are able to be ourselves fully. Outside material allow the children to create exactly what they need when they need it. A long board can be a path over a pit of fire, making us test our balance as we run across it. Or a see-saw, turning into a mathematical equation of how many people need to be on one side to make it lift up. The limits are endless, and everyday is a new chance to create, imagine, and wonder what we can use the materials for next.

As the year progresses on and the children get older and more mature, so do the games they play. We start to notice that the games continue on for days, sometimes weeks. The structures and items used are wanting to be saved for the next time they're outside, jobs are needed to be formed for others that want to join in the game in progress. Problem-solving skills become more apparent and are starting to be used in these times, creating ample opportunities for the Tumbleweed Preschool community to come together to think of a solution.

How can we involve everyone and still keep our game/structure intact? How can we best communicate our needs and feelings when we are unable to use a material that is already in use elsewhere? Its during these times as a teacher I get the most excited. Seeing the children work through a tricky situation by themselves is such a rewarding feeling.

Outside time will always be one of my favorites as a teacher. These are the times where the children socialize, compromise, and problem-solve the most, which are all valuable traits that will make their journey outside Tumbleweed that much easier to navigate through.