Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Awesome Power!"

































I mentioned in an earlier post that our Chinese New Year celebration was delayed due to a week of snow. This compressed our activities so much that we never got around to our dragon parade. 


This year, like last, we made the dragon's body from paper plates we'd spun on old record player turntables, using markers as the needle, creating more than 100 body parts that we then connected together using brads, but the big day came and went without it getting unfurled and marched around. Most of the kids didn't miss it, but a few expressed disappointment, both directly to me and through their parents, so we decided amongst ourselves that it would have to be a Valentines dragon parade.


These plates connected with brads makes a great dragon body when hung from the ceiling and walls, but we discovered last year that it's quite fragile and takes a lot of coordination to actually march it around, so I knew I wanted to sort of prep the kids, get a little teamwork mojo flowing, before trying the exercise.


As we assembled for circle time, I said, "I want everyone to move to the border of the rug." ("Border" is a word that Calder, our resident map expert, has taught us.) As the children moved to the edges, I said, "I have a challenge for us today. It's something none of us can do alone; we can only do it together. First I need to count how many of us are here. You can count along if you want." I then proceeded to count them off, 1-25. We were all accounted for.


"There are 25 kids here. That means we have 50 arms. Here's the challenge: Do you think if we all work together we can lift up the loft?"


Their heads swiveled to look across the room at the corner where our loft resides. Several of them shouted, "Yes!"

This is a heavy, heavy piece of furniture, one that takes, at minimum, 4 adults to shove around. Earlier in the day a handful of us had tried to lift it on our own and failed, which had been what gave me the idea. Some of these kids, experienced in its immovability, expressed doubt.

"I think we should try it. Come on everybody!" 

We raced across the room, gathering under it. A couple kids even crawled beneath the lower part to lie on their backs and put their legs to work. As we arranged ourselves I, quite unnecessarily as it turned out, babbled about being gentle with our friends and making room for each other. I genuinely had no idea if we could do this and was prepared to somehow lend my adult muscles to the cause if needed.

Nothing happened as they all tried to lift, randomly, according to their own instincts. I said, "I think we're going to have to all lift at the same time. I'll say, 1, 2, 3, lift, and when I say "lift," everyone lift. Ready?"

They were poised, all hands on deck. "One, 2, 3, lift!" And off the ground it came, rising several inches off the ground.

"We did it! We did it!"

With that we returned to the rug, buzzing from our success. I held my hands over my head and said, "We did it! Together we are powerful!"

Several of the children raised their hands as well.

"We are awesome!" 

I threw a fist over my head and said, "Awesome power!" before I knew what was coming from my mouth. Most of the children joined me. "Awesome power!" We repeated our awesome power salute several times.

"I have another challenge. Do you think we can walk around on the blue rug without touching each other?"

By now we were pretty full of ourselves and thought we could. It was crowded and not at all easy to move around with so many other bodies, one of which was a grown-up, in that small space, but we managed it to our satisfaction for a minute or so.

"We are awesome! Awesome power!"

"Here's another challenge: Do you think we can crawl around the blue rug without touching each other?"

And we did it. "We are awesome! Awesome power!"

I felt they were ready. "I have one more awesome power challenge for us." I then reminded them that we'd not had our dragon parade, that I'd laid the dragon body out in the Cloud Room, that it was delicate and we should be prepared for it to break apart, but to keep on going even if it did. We were going to have to all work together with awesome power to make it work. And we did it. "Awesome power!"

We returned to the rug, then spent several minutes raising our hands and suggesting other things we might be able to do with our awesome power. I made a list. I'm not sure what we'll do with it, but I suspect we'll take the rest of the school year challenging ourselves with building robots, trying to lift the whole school and otherwise using our awesome power.

On Thursday we lifted the loft again, this time with only 22 children. 

"Awesome power!"


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6 comments:

Stephanie Leah said...

What a surprise ending to the team lift experiment. I love what you did with that outcome : )

Tammy said...

I am a Primary School Teacher from the UK. I love reading your posts. I thought that you might like this blog. Alistair is a former Infant Head Teacher and is now an Early Years consultant, working with Early Years settings throughout the country.

http://abcdoes.typepad.com/

Anonymous said...

Tom, I am DYING to see what your dragon looks like - please could we see a photo?

Teacher Tom said...

I don't have a picture of the dragon from this year, but if you scroll down this post from last year, you'll get the idea: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/gung-hay-fat-choy.html

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

I love this description of the awesome power of your group of children, who surely feel confident now of their abilities to work as a group, and to try new feats!
I love reading about the way you enthuse your children, Tom - you are an awesome teacher it seems! :)

I too would have loved to see a picture of the children and the dragon!
(I'll take a look at last year's dragon.)
Brenda

Cave Momma said...

I love this! It is so inspiring and the confidence those kids have now is just wonderful.

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