Twice in one morning wonderful things happened because of children’s frustration with too few of something.
In cubby house (a little space for dramatic play), some children were playing a story in which pet dogs played a part. By the time Lydia arrived in the cubby house, all the stuffed dogs were claimed. Lydia wanted a dog, and she said so. One of the other children told her she could have her dog when she was finished playing with it. But that was not OK with Lydia. When negotiations among the children did not yield agreement, I offered a possibility that we have not entertained yet. I invited Lydia to make a dog. Lydia was not interested, but others were, and they handed their stuffed dogs off and formed a group that intends to make stuffed dogs for the cubby house.
First, the children tried to make their mental images of “dog” visible through drawing. For some, this required a true “study,” with several attempts before they were satisfied with their drawings.
The children didn’t even hesitate long enough to take off their dramatic play attire when leaving cubby house to join the group.
Children who had not even been in cubby house saw what was happening and joined the cubby house dog group.
When the children finished drawing, they helped to scan their drawings into the computer and print them out on transparencies. The next step is to enlarge the images and trace them onto fabric. This is a new technique for the children, one which I expect they will find useful for other projects, but I am struck that they are always so trusting that the gifts of techniques will be good ones.
Story #2, Scarcity As Inspiration For Invention
The children took out instruments in the Outdoor Classroom. A small group played the gathering drum, while a larger one made a parade on the stone pathway.
C. wanted to join the parade but couldn’t find an instrument she wanted to play, and she asked me if we had any more. I showed her how she could play a 2-foot bamboo section about 4 inches in diameter by hitting it with another, smaller piece of bamboo. Not impressed (“too heavy,” she said), she asked if there were any more things out of which she could make instruments. We went to the shed to look, where we found the tub of mud-kitchen supplies (mostly stainless steel). C. found a way to “play” just about every piece in the large tub. She assembled instruments and then laid each set (drum and a drumstick, for example) out on the sidewalk. When she ran out of mud-kitchen instruments, she began making instruments from the sand toys. After a while she had an entire “petting zoo” of newly invented instruments.
We had a “JK huddle” so that C. could introduce her instruments to the other children.
It will be interesting to see how the children take up C’s idea when they want to play music in the future. And it will be even more interesting to see if and how the children continue to use invention as a solution for problems of scarcity.