Monday, June 7, 2010

Memorable Moment # 8: Building Structures

Here's one of my recent memorable moments:

During the last week of school, I took a look in my storage room to see what materials we had not used yet this year and came across a bucket of plastic building materials. They have white lines and white curves and colorful couplings to join them together. I got them out and asked one of my assistants if she would support that center during our center time.

She and the kids ran with it! It was so much fun to watch.

For the first 20 minutes or so, they really explored and experimented with how the pieces fit together and what they could do with them. Then they decided to get a little bit more complex and I hear one of the kids say, "Can we have some paper and markers?"

Naturally, any time a child wants to write, I say yes. So they got the markers and paper and brought them over to the area they were playing. My assistant ended up showing them that you can make a plan for building structures. One little boy in particular really understood the relationship between the drawing and the structure. Here's what he came up with:

The first picture is the picture of his plan. The second picture is a picture of what he started building off of his plan.

My personal learning experience from this is a confirmation and gentle reminder to respect and seek the contributions and ideas of the assistants with whom you work. I didn't have a lesson plan for the children to talk about blueprints, architects, and builders. She introduced some really sophisticated vocabulary that they understood through their play and their plans. The lesson plan evolved as she responded to the children and was better for it!

My other take away is an appreciation for the personal interests and aptitudes of young children. While the plan does not look very sophisticated, it was drawn and then implemented by a 4 year old boy.

The level of symbolic representation of a concrete product that isn't even built yet is actually quite sophisticated! I wouldn't have expected this child to be able to do this, but his natural interest, his visual spatial skills and the support of an adult who was engaged with him helped him to reach a level of thinking and problem solving that surprised and delighted us!


Anonymous said...

I loved the focus of building structures. Bringing markers over to the table was a great idea. Having them on hand was ideal. good pre writing You never know what can happen-like your assistants idea. Giving the student this kind of time is priceless.

Michelle_special_ed_teacher said...

I agree with never know what direction the kids can take a lesson. It's nice to have materials in easy to reach places so you can go with it! Maybe I should post how I store some of our materials in bins with labels for easy access.