The other day I took a few photos of two different play scenarios in the block room. In one, children were invited to “build inside a hoop.” We laid hula hoops around the block room carpet, and children could use wooden blocks to create a structure that fit inside a hoop. These are two of the resulting structures:
In the second play scenario, a group of girls were taking turns pretending they were pregnant (it’s on their minds– their teacher and a classmate’s mom are both pregnant). The child “with a baby in her tummy” was attended diligently by a doctor, a friend, and a puppy. A conversation ensued as to whether or not “it hurts to have a baby.” (Two said yes, two said no.)
I was thinking about these different ways children were creating and playing. And while at first they seemed unrelated, I recognized that both demonstrated an important aspect of early childhood development: the opportunity to take on new perspectives. Indeed, when creating environments for children, we think about materials and activities that encourage children to think about the world in new ways. In the block play, the perspective shift happened in the physical world, as children had a new way of thinking about their block building to make it fit inside the hoop (they built up and around rather than out). In the dramatic play, the perspective shift happened on an emotional and imaginative level, as the girls pretended to take on the experience of grown-ups in their lives. However it happens, it is always so fascinating to witness the ways in which children respond to new situations or ideas, piecing together information and knowledge from previous experiences with the unexpected or unfamiliar.
I suppose this idea of seeing the world in new ways resonates with me for a variety of reasons. As it pertains, specifically, to my professional life and my role as a teacher, I find that I, too, am in need of a little shift in perspective. It can be easy to feel stuck in a certain pattern or routine, or that I’m doing the same activities over and over again. Repetition can be very important–children need the opportunity to try things over and over again as they work to master a new concept or skill. And often our adult attention spans urge us to move on too quickly when children are still doing important work. (And honestly, ooblick and shaving cream are ALWAYS engaging and fun!) But it also feels like I’m overdue to infuse our classroom with a few things new, so that all of us–children, parents, and teachers–can feel that excitement that comes with a little shift in perspective.
I’ll let you know how it goes…