I have a theory that perhaps only applies to me, but if I were ever to have a preschool purpose-built to my specifications, it would have at least 4 times more storage space than actual classroom space. In fact, it simply would not be possible for me to have too much storage space. As it is, even with limited room to stash stuff when not in use, I keep a lot of large scale items around, piled up to the ceilings, including a collection of dog crates, which usually only come out for one week a year.
It might not look like it, but these are challenging items, both for the kids and the adults.
There are two "toy" crates with handles on the tops. These are fun to fill up and carrying around.
But since there are only two, they quite naturally become bones of contention, which means that we all have to work very hard at taking turns with them.
Fortunately, they are a kind of one trick pony, which means the excitement and perhaps power of commanding one for a time gives way fairly quickly, giving the next kid in line a crack at them.
The real focus, however, are the two large crates, which are large enough to hold 3-4 kids at a time. Not that they don't try to fit more bodies in there, which gives us another opportunity to figure things out about one another. And as much as these items appear to be a wonderful opportunity for dramatic play, they really are all about conflict and cooperation.
For one thing, the doors are in many ways the focus of the play. Should they be opened or closed? Who gets to decide: the kids inside or outside? Are we trapped inside or are we keeping others out? And, naturally, there is a lot of talk about being careful with the metal doors in order to avoid pinched fingers.
I'm sure we've sent the parent-teachers in charge of the kennel play home exhausted so far this week as they've helped the children negotiate important questions like, Can we keep someone out? How will we share our limited space and resources? Who is in charge of the door?
But once we'd settled those questions, at least for a time, there must have been a great deal of good stuff going on, dramatic play that always bordered right on the edge of being real as they found a way to work through their conflicts and figure out a way to cooperate, settling on games that needed some to be out, some to be in, and an acknowledgment that the doors are for everyone.
Every time I get these out, I go back and forth in my mind about whether or not to put the tops on, instead leaving them open to the ceiling, not only reducing the opportunity to feel "trapped," but also doubling the spaces in which they can play. Or what about those doors? They really don't need to be on the crates. That would certainly make things easier for both the kids and the adults.
But that's not what we're here to do. Learning isn't always easy, especially when it comes to learning to be with the other people. Working through conflict, exploring fairness, and figuring out how to get what we want and need through that process is perhaps the most important thing we do in preschool.
So I left the ceilings and doors on and we've all been working.
In reviewing these photos and thinking back over the past 3 days, however, I've noticed a confusing phenomenon. I wonder if anyone else sees it too. I have some theories and will be testing them these next 2 days, and perhaps even into next week. It's a phenomenon that has popped up so far in both the 3-5's class and the Pre-3's: where are the girls?