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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2 comments:

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...

Tom,
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!
Cheers!
Brenda






Brenda

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