The feeling of tape against skin is compelling, curious and addictive. Tape wound on fingers, tape over mouth, tape stuck in hair, tape on a t-shirt. And in the process there will be tape against tape, an ungainly mess. But an interesting ungainly mess.
Tape can hold anything together
Tape a straw to a box and voila!
You can drink from it.
Tape can be control panels for trips to Mars.
It can hold a house together.
Tape can be a building tool.
Tape can be aerial insect pathways.
Tape can hold everything together. Tape might be the thing needed to keep your life together.
When my son was 4 he built a playground for caterpillars. He made it from cardboard and it was an enclosed space with a slide, some swings and some ramps for the caterpillars to crawl up and down. It took days to make, and many caterpillars were encouraged to play in it. Then one morning he discovered there were no caterpillars in the playground, only caterpillar fluff. Seems my 2 year old son had found the caterpillars and the scissors and……well, all that was left was the fluff.
Cardboard continued to be an essential play item for my boys, from making a miniature city of ruined buildings for warhammer, (if you have preteen boys you likely know what that is) to a giant skate board park for finger boards (tiny skateboards).
Parents and ECE’s have long recognized the value of cardboard: it’s free, accessible, and multi functional. Add materials from the recycling bin, some glue, tape and paint and the possibilities are limitless. But without two key elements all these great materials will never reach their potential: time and space. Kids need time to develop something out of cardboard, which means they need to work over a period of days or weeks. Which in turn means that the project needs a place to be stored. ECE settings are notoriously short on space, and time is often chopped into small chunks for play, snack, outside time, nap etc. But look at what can be achieved when these barriers are overcome!
My good friend Sarah Hilliard at Lansdowne Preschool followed the children’s interest in robots……
And the next year her kids were fascinated with castles so…..
The attraction of real stuff is that it really works. Pretend hammers make a lot of noise when you bang them, but they don’t work on nails. Pretend cameras make a nice clicking sound, but you can’t get a photo from them. And pretend knives don’t really cut. Kids know this.
You know what else? Real stuff feels good in your hand. They feel solid to hold, to heft, to test out, to run your fingers over. They have texture, sharp edges, and moving parts that smoothly fit together.
And of course…..they really do the job, not just pretend to do the job.
I mean really, what would you choose to tinker with?
I have taken a little break from the blog as you have probably noticed. Thank goodness for Kim and her insightful posts. After spending three weekends talking to ECEs again. I felt this pang to return to the floor. I decided to put my name on a few sub lists within walking distance to my home. During one of my subbing interviews I was offered a permanent part time teaching position in a local preschool. So I am going back to preschool this Monday. I am super excited. Of course with knowing that I would be returning to the floor I decided to spend the last couple of weeks enjoying my time with my daughter.
I will miss our little morning rituals but I am sure as a family we will come up with new rituals for the morning. I have been scouring pinterest for ideas for materials and provocations for the new program. It will be an interesting experience for me as it will be the first time I will work on my own. I am used to working with a team of educators. Luckily I still have my IQ group to look further at our practice. I hope to share the experience here.
….by letting children experience the world in a hands-on way, we lay the foundations of creativity and innovative thinking. Gever Tulley
Kids completely get it about real stuff.
In my preschool we wanted to offer children real stuff, so they could really tinker. And we wanted to create an environment where imagination, problem solving and working in groups were every day events.
So we went to a retail fixture supply store……
And sure enough there was tinkering! Forts, garages, tunnels, cages, traps, all these were constructed, and more.
Last week when I told Owen there were screws and screwdrivers out, he looked at me carefully. “Are they real?” he asked warily. When I replied that yes, indeed were real, his face broke out in a grin, he dropped what he was doing and ran to try them out.
Just carrying a handful of real stuff feels good! C’mon, we all know it’s better when it’s real.