Saturday, June 26, 2010

Working Together


We started with a layer of the aquarium rock that has been living in our storage room in a quantity inadequate for most uses for over 8 years. We worked together using garden spades because, indeed, this was the garden and these are proper garden tools. Of course, we could have just dumped the aquarium rocks into the aquarium, where they are to serve as a drainage layer, but where is the team-building play value in that? We took turns, made room for one another, complained and compromised.


When we got to the bottom of the box, the spades weren't very effective, so we all agreed to switch to using our hands.


We then again took up our spades to add a layer of good, rich compost. Again, we worked on our friendship and cooperation skills, working together shoulder-to-shoulder in a tight space with limited resources.


Once we thought we had enough compost, we turned our attentions to our worm bin and selected a couple dozen fat ones, along with the kind of undecomposed organic matter than worms use for food, layering it atop our compost. (We put a lot more stems, leaves and roots in here than this picture shows.)


We ended with another layer of compost right on top.


We put away our tools and brought out some tape and black construction paper which we used to cover the clear glass sides.



We gave the whole thing a healthy dose of water, making it damp, but not too muddy, then covered the top with more black paper.


We made it "night time" for the worms, dark and safe the way they like it.

When we come back to school next week, we'll take off the paper and make some observations.

As for me, I can identify at least 11 different sets of hands in theses photos involved in this project that took place in an impromptu fashion over the course of about 30 minutes. It was a very small space and we didn't always have enough tools for everyone, yet these 2-6 year olds figured out how to work together to cooperatively accomplish their end with a minimum of conflict and teacher involvement.

The famous Perry School study, the one that lead directly to the Head Start program in 1965, and continues to this day, clearly demonstrates that of all the things we teach children in preschool it is these  "non-cognitive" traits like motivation, sociability and the ability to work with others that have the most bearing on future success in school, work, marriage, and life in general. These are the specific critical skills necessary for a happy and satisfying life. I don't really care if the worms cooperate and dig some tunnels against the glass for us to observe, the important part of this project is already under our belts.

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3 comments:

Kidlutions(tm): Solutions for Kids said...

Teacher Tom,

You are the BOMB! Making your acquaintance through MommyPerks.com, where you commented on one of my articles!

I got chills reading this post...and perusing some of the others. You GET IT, you REALLY, REALLY GET IT!

The PROCESS is more important than the product. It made my heart sing to see these little people all working together cooperatively. I love where you say,

"Of course, we could have just dumped the aquarium rocks into the aquarium, where they are to serve as a drainage layer, but where is the team-building play value in that? We took turns, made room for one another, complained and compromised."

It's that "process-oriented" approach and recognizing that complaints will happen...but realizing the beautiful gem of learning that available when we allow kids to learn how to work things out, neotiate conflict and problem solve that gives them REAL tools that create success in life!

You do it in spades (no pun intended)! BRAVO! Lucky, lucky Seattle!

Keep shining bright~
Wendy Young, LMSW, BCD
@Kidlutions

Lise said...

Oh, so well said! Love this post.

Mona said...

Teacher Tom,

When I saw this post, I know my daughter is in good hands this summer. Love your approach. Love your school!

Mona Elsing

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