Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Paper Clips!

During the past few weeks we've painted with pendulums, made tall paintings, and painted a box city. We toured a chocolate factory, had big kid visitors, and got to shoot a real fire hose connected to a hydrant. But nothing has captured the kids sustained interest quite like our office supplies. Sheesh!

We often have staplers, scissors, and hole punches out, and they always get some action, but during my family's recent move into smaller downtown quarters, I came across a stash of supplies left over from the bygone era when my wife worked from an office in our home (the reason we owned an oversized house in the first place). Specifically, I discovered more Post-It notes and paper clips than any family could use in a lifetime, so I brought them into the school. I then proceeded to sit on them for a few weeks, thinking that they were office supplies the school might one day need until it occurred to me that I was just curating the damn things, which is what us bag ladies too often do with our "treasures."

Let them be free! I told myself, so I put them on our do-it-yourself table where they could be used the way nature intended. The first thing I discovered was that a family with young children could indeed go through all those Post-It notes in fairly short order.

But the real action has been with the paper clips. Making chains with them has become nothing short of a mania, something they are teaching one another. One of them must have come into class with some knowledge, which has now gone viral.

They are calling them "compliment chains" and proudly handing them off to me to add to our classroom compliment chain when we give compliments during circle time.

I love those little fingers reaching under an arm to "pinch" a paper clip.

There were a few "giant" paper clips included in my home collection, which are fun . . .

. . . but it's the standard issue ones that are sustaining the play.

Let me tell you, in all the years we've been hanging compliment chains from the ceiling, this will be the first one with a chance to completely encircle where we sit on the blue rug, then head off over to the other side of the classroom, which is the declared goal of the 3-5's class.

I sometimes lose sight of these little things in my enthusiasm for my job, always asking myself, What will we do with this? or How can I support them in working on that? It's far more important sometimes to just stop curating and ask those questions of the kids.

And the giant pencil? I just stuck that photo in here because I really like the picture.

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Barbara Zaborowski said...

Some things are so everyday, commonplace to us that we forget how magical they are for children. And, when you don't understand what something's intended use is, you are freed up to use it in new, unexpected ways. Hurrah for paperclips!

Deborah J Stewart said...

Haha! I like the giant pencil photo too!

Patty said...

Here is a nice story about paperclips. It is too young for your children, but inspirational for all.


Kathy said...

We looove paperclips - bring on the magnet wands - with or without a tub of water. Thanks for another wonderful post!

Heather said...

"Making chains with them has become nothing short of a mania, something they are teaching one another. One of them must have come into class with some knowledge, which has now gone viral."

As I read this, the "teacher" in me shouted "Vygotsky's zone of proximal development!"

It works in real life!