Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"Problem" Solving

They got to the swing at the same time. They each grabbed a chain. They leaned their bodies into one another and pushed. They both let out a sound that was not a word, and not a cry, but rather an angry wail that clearly communicated: We need some help here!

I asked, "What's happening?"

"I want to swing."

"I want to swing."

They'd stopped pushing, but neither released her grip on the chain.

I said, "That seat looks big enough for two girls," then backed away. They've been playing together, happily, for the past several weeks. I was banking on that.

They made eye contact for a moment, then flung themselves onto their bellies, side-by-side.


We were playing with tennis balls in the classroom, but we kept losing them under a heavy cart full of wooden blocks.

I'd anticipated this, which is why I'd asked the adults in the room to let the children figure out how to retrieve them. I expected they'd first try to reach them with their hands, then when that failed, they'd look for something long, like a broom or one of the long cardboard tubes through which we were rolling the balls, to extend their reach and sweep the balls out from under there.

A bunch of us were contemplating the problem when Rex said, "Hey, this thing has wheels," and just rolled the cart of heavy wooden blocks out of the way.


He was arranging the magnets on our magnet board. I stood a ways off, not wanting to interfere, watching from the corner of my eye.

As he purposefully matched up row after row, one below another, a square took shape. Every now and then he paused to push on them as if they were buttons.

When he'd made five rows of five, a perfect square, he turned to me and said, "Look what I made, Teacher Tom!"

I said, "You made a square."

He blinked at me for a moment, as if trying to figure out which one of us was crazy. Then, very carefully he said, "No, Teacher Tom, I made 25."

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Aunt Annie said...

"I made 25"- what a wonderful laugh-out-loud moment! I'm still giggling. That's the sort of being wrong that keeps us loving our job.

Mullin Avenue Workshop said...

I enjoyed your account of allowing children to solve their problems.
The two girls at the swing just needed a gentle direction, and look what fun they ended having. Children so often love win win solutions!
I love the last as well - I've had a few young children who have surprised me or caught me off guard with similar understandings - those who feel that children don't benefit from "mindless play" might be surprised by this.
Plus, it is totally adorable as a story!


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