Friday, January 14, 2011

Being Brave With The Giant Tube

On Tueday afternoon, the Pre-K class (our 9 oldest kids, all boys this year) had their second go at the giant tube. None of them had been willing to attempt to crawl through the tube on Monday, while a large percentage of the 2-year-old class made the journey, many of them dozens of times, uphill, then downhill. I was curious to see what a smaller, older group would do with it.

After a few minutes of rolling the balls down the tube, and a couple of aborted efforts at crawling through (Charlie B. stuck his full upper torso inside before backing out, which was as far as anyone dared go), we decided to try working as a team and roll it together back and forth across the gym. While we were doing this, Lachlan looked at me and said, "I want to get in it."

"You want to try crawling through it?"

"No, I want to get in it and you roll me."

He chose to climb inside one end, feet first, and when he was ready we all very gently, very slowly rolled the giant tube across the gym floor. I'd positioned my own body right by the opening, and asked several times, "Is it fun?" And each time I received an echoey, "Yes."

When he emerged, I asked one more time for the benefit of everyone, "Was it fun?"

He answered, "Yes," although he needn't have spoken, his exhilarated expression said it all.

So that's what we did for awhile, rolling the giant tube back and forth across the gym with a kid tucked into each end, some feet first and others head first. And by the end we were rolling it pretty fast. Max was the only one who declared that it had not been fun, although he didn't seem too terribly upset by the experience.

They could have done this for an hour I'm sure, but frankly, my back wasn't going to take much more of the bending over it took to serve as speed control, so I suggested we prop the thing back up at an incline and roll balls for awhile.

I straddled the tube to hold it in place with my thighs so it didn't roll around. Several of the boys imitated me.

I started singing one of our classroom songs:
There's a big ship sailing on the Illy Alley Oh,
The Illy Alley Oh,
The Illy Alley Oh . . .
There's a big ship sailing on the Illy Alley Oh,
Hey ho, Illy Alley Oh!

As I sang, I began to gently rock the giant tube from side to side. Within seconds, all nine boys were astride our big ship, struggling to stay atop. This is a rough-and-tumble group for the most part, so I ad-libbed:

There's a big ship sailing and it's rocking on the sea,
Rocking on the sea,
Rocking on the sea,
There's a big ship sailing and it's rocking on the sea,
Oh no! They all fall overboard!

Now that's a game! We played the "overboard game" several times before we needed to move on to the rest of our day. What fun!

But still, not one of the older children had attempted a crawl through the length of the giant tube.

That all changed yesterday, when the entire 3-5's class revisited the giant tube for the second time.

After a few minutes of horsing around with it, Charlie B., the guy who'd so far stuck the largest percentage of his body into one end, said, "I want to go through it."

Now there were at least a dozen kids playing on, with, and around the giant tube at this point, so it was a bit of a project to clear the way for this first 3-5's class attempt at a full crawl through the entire 18 feet of tube. He hesitated at first, and I thought for a second he was going to back out again, but then he went for it. It was a long 10 seconds, but when he emerged unscathed, there was a spontaneous cheer, then a rush to fill the tube with bodies.

Having learned a lesson from our experience with 2-year-old Finn freezing up, I quickly declared it a one-way, one-at-a-time giant tube. At first it was just the older boys. Most of them hesitated, then as if summoning up their courage, inspired by Charlie B., they plunged into the small dark space. The biggest challenge was keeping the opposite end clear as kids crowded around to watch the progress.

Up over their heads the adult talk was about claustrophobia and what we would do if someone panicked (good thing I had experience), but the kids just kept going.

Then it was time for some of the 3-year-old girls to ask for a turn. Unlike the Pre-K boys who were in the midst of their third playdate with the giant tube, this was only the girls' second experience. One after another, they dropped to their knees, peered into the dark hole, perhaps even sticking their head part way in, then changed their minds.

When it was Ava's turn, she said to me, "I want to do it. I'm brave." When she too had a change of heart, she said to me, "Next time I'll be brave." Fair enough.

We then finished our giant tube session with a couple rousing rounds of Illy Alley Oh.

I'm noticing our giant tube is already starting to show some wear and tear. It might be time to cut it up into a few shorter lengths, but I'd really like to give Ava one more crack at being brave.

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Play for Life said...

Oh Noooo don't cut it Tom it won't be the same!
Donna :) :)

Unknown said...

That looks like the MOST fun thing ever. Your students are inspiring : )

When I was little my Daddy would lay on the floor and I would sit on his tummy and he would sway me back and forth and pretend he was a boat. I loved that.

Juliet Robertson said...

I want a tube. Right now. But one that can collapse and fit into my car. I'm really enjoying the tube posts. I wish every pre-school practitioner was reading them too.

MOM #1 said...

I am LOVING the Giant Tube series. Don't cut it. Reinforce it with packing tape or something. You're very creative, figure it out!

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Love this! Where did you get the tube? I have vivid memories of playing in a giant refrigerator box when I was in preschool. This kind of fun can stick with you!

Beansprouts said...

Wonderful discussion, Tom. It reminds me of when our kids were toddlers and we had the ones who were very nervous about those little nylon rainbow tunnels they sell on the school supply websites. It's lovely to see the breakthroughs and how just a little boundary (e.g. one way tunnel) can assist those breakthroughs. Again, kudos!