Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Why Are These Belts Here?"

A couple weeks ago I asked for help in figuring out what to do with these belts.

More specifically, what to do with 200+ of these vinyl-ly, child-sized belts. I promised to keep you updated on how they were used.

Amyahola, proprietor of the terrific blog Child Central Station, suggested weaving them into a mat. 

On the Wednesday after that post, I tossed a couple bundles of belts into our construction area, mostly as a reminder to try things out if I had the chance. Both B.J. and Thomas asked the exact same question, "Why are these belts here?" When I answered, "To play with," they both tugged a belt from the bundle and walked around the beach shack, hanging them or balancing them from various protruding parts, but ultimately giving them up for things that looked like more fun.

At the same time, I'm having trouble getting the kids interested in sanding. We even made our own sanding blocks using a staple gun (a tool, I now know, that really ought not be used by young children) Still, danger and all, it didn't motivate much more than a couple sanding swipes before more exciting things called. 

Ella's mom Jaimee was the adult in charge of my most recent effort to interest the kids in sanding. I tried providing mineral oil to stain their sanded wood. This is not much fun as it turns out, which left Jaimee with time on her hands to create this addition to the structure the kids refer to as "the castle."

There is a lot of potential here. I'm looking at this as a prototype for larger things.

(In case you were wondering, my next step in the sanding effort is to bring in my vibrating "mouse" hand sander. I know they'll like using that.)

Amy Woidtke, a brilliant interior decorator and owner of EcoKind Design suggested looping them together into a chain.

That, translated into a preschool classroom, is a chain ladder, right? Wrong. It's a rope swing.

I have to say that I'm blown away by how they were looking
out for each other's safety when there was no obvious adult 
around to "protect" them. Those hands are ready to help.

This daredevil awaits her turn. In a multi-aged classroom the older
kids teach the younger ones about things like taking turns.

One very important lesson we learned is that the belts break if you try swinging two at once. I don't know if I'm more pleased that they learned this lesson or that they managed the cooperation necessary to both get their full weight on it at once. I'm thinking it might be fun to loop a whole bunch together to make a "mat" of hoops to hang on a wall for the kids to climb on -- one at a time, naturally.

The third use we've found for the belts so far is an invention of our own. The belt in the picture is a key component in a "trap."

Tune in tomorrow for a tutorial on building traps.

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Play for Life said...

I love the rope swing idea. I reckon you should thicken it up and make it again. Our children feel like they're flying when they swing on our ropes ... then again if the children have come up with the trap idea themselves, i guarantee that will be the best idea yet. I'll be tuning in tomorrow to see what they came up with.
Donna :) :)

Scott said...

Looks like those "bag lady" tendencies are paying off. I can't wait to see the traps.

SurprisedMom said...

I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of adults and children alike. I'm also astounded at what ordinary, household objects can be used for. I don't think kindergarten (there was no preschool when I was that age) was ever this much fun, or this creative.

I can't wait to read about the traps.

MommyTeacher123 said...

You are so gutsy.You make me say-"What am I doing with my life?".lol I love it went teachers just put things out and let the children have at it.They look like they had a great time swinging-andI agree about the castle.Its just getting started!

Amy A @ Child Central Station said...

How cool! What a treasure the belts turned into. It is great to see how creative the children are with them and how it leads them to continue to explore and redesign their creations!