Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Circle, Star, Rectangle, Pyramid, Square, Cube, Oval

Calder said, "Teacher Tom, I want to show you. Come with me." 

I was in the middle of something, so answered, "I can't come right now. I'll come when I'm finished."

He went away, but came back to remind me of my promise. "I want to show you. Come with me."

Children were talking to me. I said, "Oh yeah, Calder wants to show me something." When I went with him, other children followed.

He dropped to his knees near the outdoor drum set and showed me what he collected from the loose parts that populate our outdoor classroom. "Look what I have!" Then he pointed, "Circle, star, rectangle, pyramid, square, cube, oval."

I said, "You found a circle, a star, a rectangle, a pyramid, a square, a cube, and an oval."

He repeated it for me, for all of us, several times. When he was done, he got up and walked away.

Henry asked, "What did he say?"

"Calder told us what he found: circle, star, rectangle, pyramid, square, cube, oval."

Henry dropped to his knees, pointing, "Circle, star, rectangle, pyramid, square, cube, oval."

"You said those shapes."

Now it was a game. Several kids followed suit, some struggling with the names of the three-dimensional shapes. Then Elana took her place, feeling silly, "Wood, basket, lego, block, box, block, ring."

"Hey, you found different names for everything!"

By then, Calder had returned, "No! Circle, star, rectangle, pyramid, square, cube, oval!" He said it fast, almost too fast to be understood. He wasn't happy that we'd re-labeled his collection. Or maybe he thought we were telling him that his things weren't what he knew they were.

I said, "Circle, star, rectangle, pyramid, square, cube, oval." He said, "Yes," again repeating the list, this time even faster than before, "Circlestarrectanglepyramidsquarecubeoval!"

"And Elana said, 'Wood, basket, lego, block, box, block, ring.'"

Calder cocked his head. He sat quietly by his collection, picking up some of the pieces, then putting them back. Most of the other children had moved on, but Violet was still there beside me. She said, "Wood, metal, plastic, plastic, plastic, wood, plastic."

Calder whipped around to look at her. His expression was fierce for a moment, but then he smiled. Pointing, he said, "Wood, metal, plastic, plastic, plastic, wood, plastic."

A few minutes later, I was standing alone by the collection, trying to take a picture that would help me tell this story. Luella had not been part of the group of children who had been investigating Calder's collection. She looked at my camera, then followed its aim to the objects. As I slipped the camera into my pocket, and turned to focus on her, she dropped to her knees, pointing, "One, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7!"

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L2L said...

Our family homeschools and I am not a big fan of preschools and your blog demonstrates that very reason.... because learning is not about workbooks and structure but about a child connecting with their world and environment and figuring out how they can take something from it....but I do secretly read your articles for things to do with my children.. even if they aren't in prek you always give me a way to keep out of the workbooks and in real life because even though I love homeschooling I was raised in the system but determined that my children will be life long learners and that isn't something you teach but cultivate!!!!!

Judi Pack said...

Love it. The one hundred languages of children...

Scott said...

Tom, I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours. I love the kids' different interpretations.

Anonymous said...

Thanks AGAIN for this lesson. Repeat what they say, acknowledge, not 'cool' or 'how great' (I don't say 'good job' at least). I think this would be the most important lesson of being in your school-ME, the parent, getting to hear this all the time.