Last week I set out a sensory bin filled with beans and cups, envisioning my group of 4's & 5's enthusiastically surrounding the bin and exploring the beans. To my dismay, the kids didn't touch it. Hmm...time to ditch the idea, right? Not quite. Sometimes we are much too quick to replace an activity that doesn't appear to be immediately enticing to children.
To counteract the idea that everything is "disposable" or that all activities should provide "immediate gratification," I believe it is imperative that we try to make small changes in activities to refocus their attention and concentration. There are times when we can assess what we've given the children and find the missing link that may be the key ingredient to sparking their interest.
So, rather than tossing the beans, this week I mixed in some magnetic and non-magnetic items and added several magnet wands. What a hit! There was a constant stream of children at that bin today and they all enjoyed swirling their wands through the beans to see what they would attract. The activity captured their attention and helped develop crucial skills in focus, observation, and attention. And as a perk, they learned about the scientific properties of magnetism!
It Not "Just Recess" Anymore!
Teachers often heave a sigh of relief when they take their students out to recess. Finally! The children can burn off the pent up energy they had been accruing for the past few hours indoors. But what if we change our outlook on outdoor play time? What if we create an outdoor environment that offered all of the learning opportunities that one would typically find indoors? What if children could run out to a well-planned play yard to find experiences in math, science, nature, dramatic play, water, building and construction, sensory activities, physical development, art and music? What if they play yard developed critical thinking, discovery, problem solving, and cooperative skills? The result would be that we wouldn't have "just recess" anymore. We would have The Outdoor Classroom!