Wednesday, January 25, 2012

But We Still Have Soooo Much To Do!

A big part of celebrating Chinese New Year is cleaning up in preparation for the big day. (Since we missed a week of anticipation due to snow, we're actually celebrating next Monday.) I picked up a few child-sized whisk brooms, dust pans, and feather dusters at Daiso, the Japanese $1.50 store.

We were using rice in the sensory table so I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to use them.

Clean up time already stands at the core of our curriculum, the time when the children truly claim ownership of their school, but this is different. There is no drum and song to announce the proper time for cleaning up; there are simply tools to do the work and work to be done.

When a little rice was smuggled in a box to the top of the loft, then accidentally spilled, I said, "Don't worry, we have a brooms," and a team was on it instantly. I won't vouch for their effectiveness in getting all those grains into those pink dustpans, but I will for the diligence with which they endeavored to be effective. 

There's hardly been a moment these past two days when there wasn't a child down on her knees, working to get that rice up off the floor. In fact, the two year olds, as one might have anticipated, made a game of it, dumping it intentionally on the floor, then sweeping it back up.

All the while I was passing through the room, play acting the part, "We have to get the whole school clean for the new year," "Oh, we have so much work to do to get ready," "This place is so dirty from the old year. We have to get it ready for the new one." That kind of thing. (I don't know if Chinese families are really like this, but nearly every book we own on the topic seems to convey this kind of feverish cleaning, and none of our several families of Chinese heritage have corrected me.)

At one point River and Luca were playing a game that involved carrying all of the toy food from our toy fridge and scattering it in the lower level of the loft. It's the kind of "big mess" game that preschoolers often play, one that is labor and time intensive during clean-up time. Just before that time rolled around, however, I began to hear a chant coming from that side of the room, "Clean up, clean up, clean up," and sure enough there were the two boys reversing their game from earlier, returning all the food back where it belonged. Naturally, I delayed our official clean up time until they were done. I also want to point out that there was no need to thank them or even "notice" what they'd done: it was simply what we do when we're together in preschool, especially during this week as we prepare for the new year.

And just as no one needed to tell the boys "Good job!" for putting away the toys, no one needed to tell the children, "Not like that!" when they experimented with the dust pans and brooms in ways other than for which they were intended.

Later, the thunder drum was upended and carried around the outdoor classroom as kids filled it with "garbage" (e.g., toys that appeared dirty). I'm starting to have confidence we'll be ready for the new year, but we still have soooo much to do!

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1 comment:

ReflectiveTeacher said...

Teacher Tom, you are an inspiration!