Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fluttery And Colorful

One of my underlying theories about running a preschool is that if you have a lot of anything, you can use it in the classroom. In the aftermath of the balloon cage, we always have a lot of popped balloon parts left over. 

They're fluttery and colorful, so we've typically deployed them as collage materials, gluing them onto cardboard. But I've long wanted to come up something else. If I collected them long enough, for instance, we could use them to stuff a large "bouncy" pillow, but that will take more than one year's worth of balloon parts. I'm still musing on it.

In the name of saving them (I know, this is how far my disease has gone; I'm now saving popped balloon parts from year to year) I thought that instead of gluing them, we could make our collage on a bulletin board with thumb tacks. We would have our fun and still get to keep those balloon parts for whatever grand project comes up 5 years from now.

We tried it outside on a rainy day. Man, was it popular. Kids crowded around the large cork board to get their turn. Fortunately, we also have a fairly large collection of decorative cork board squares that I salvaged from the walls of my daughter's old bedroom, which we put on a table top. Charlotte's mom Amanda took to referring to those as the "horizontal," as opposed to the the larger "vertical," alternative, slipping in a nice pair of vocabulary words, in context.

In fact, after the initial flurry, the horizontal cork squares rapidly became the more popular, which was a little frustrating to me given that I'd envisioned a fully covered large bulletin board. I thought its would look pretty cool, all fluttery and colorful. In fact, only a couple kids stuck with the vertical board while the others fell on the horizontal ones, some even objecting when I said they weren't "take home" art. 

The following day, I eliminated the horizontal option, figuring that if the vertical plane was the only one available, I might get to see that fully covered surface. The first two girls outside went right at it. I gave them stools, both to help them reach the top and to eliminate some of the jostling from the day before. There were only a few of us outside at the time and so I was really able to focus on what was happening.  At least half of what they attempted to stick on the board wound up falling to the ground. That was strange. As I'd dismantled the horizontal cork board art from the day before, I'd been impressed with how most of the kids had stuck their tacks all the way through to the opposite side, while these girls were only managing to barely get the pointy part into the cork.

I tried one myself. Sheesh. Mine fell out too. For whatever reason, perhaps age, the cork in this bulletin board was more like a piece of wood, more suitable for hammering than push pins. No wonder most of the kids had given up. And how impressive are the ones who yesterday persevered in the face of this nearly impossible challenge.

Like these two girls, who struggled and strived, never once expressing frustration when their balloon and tack fell to the ground. I tried to be the good angel over their shoulders, honoring their intent by discretely shoving their tacks in more deeply, but they didn't really seem to care. It was a game of climbing up and down off of stools, trying their best to make it stick, then climbing back down when it fell. And the conversation, they also hung around for the conversation, a fluttery, colorful discussion about how hard it is to stick a tack into this bulletin board, but that we were still trying to do it anyway.

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Jas said...

Your store room must be huge if you can afford to save popped balloon pieces! So jealous...

Trish said...

What a great idea! "If you have a lot of anything, you can use it in the classroom." As a future teacher, I feel this is going to save me a lot of money while propelling my creativity. The pictures you have added are helpful as well as motivating. Perhaps I should start collecting materials such as these while I am in college. As a broke college student, it may be easier to spot these materials than I would think. You students really seem to be enjoying themselves. Thanks for sharing!

Judi Pack said...

I once set out a styrofoam packing mold from a motorcycle. The 3 yr. old's had toothpicks, pipe-cleaners and little sticks (along with yarn that they could wind around the sticking out objects) that they struggled to poke into the resistant styrofoam. I was amazed at how long they struggled and did not get frustrated or give up. They did this for days and eventually figured out ways to make the little stick objects stay in the styrofoam. Kids are amazing.

Emily Jeanminette EDM310 said...

It's wonderful to see someone with such heavy influence on children teaching them that anything can be used to make everything. For instance, kids don't need shiny new materials to create something amazing. They can use the same things year after year and always change it into something new. With our world turning into a "green" earth, it is important to start teaching children early to save and not be so wasteful. Thank You!