Thursday, January 23, 2014

"You Said Those Shapes"

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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Della said...

Wonderful! Simply wonderful :-)

Diane Streicher @ Diane Again said...

I had an almost identical conversation with a three-year-old today. Such a privilege to get a glimpse into their amazing young minds.

Michelle Walker said...

Brilliant! I loved reading this post! Children are SO inspiring!

wisecandy said...

I just thought I'd let you know that your posts elicit tears from me, more often than not. Thank you for documenting this human experience so accurately. It is beautiful.

Unknown said...

amazing description of what every preschool learning experience should entail! my favorite age to teach...great work!

CDS Prekindergarten Classes said...

Thanks for sharing :)