Where Should We Go Today?
At my 4 hour morning-only Preschool, I usually schedule approximately 45 minutes of indoor free choice right after snack time. I say “approximately“ because it really is a child led schedule. While I have always known children thrive on routine I also know children learn best when they are engaged. And children are engaged when they are interested in what they are doing.
Today, during free choice, I witnessed the epitome of what I LIVE for: child led play-based learning! One child found a play passport I believe I received with a subscription from #Highlights Magazine and she asked me what it was. I explained that a passport is used to ride an airplane or (other transportation) to get to another country, I also said your picture and name go in it and you get stamps inside when you arrive in the other countries. All the students then proceeded to spend an entire hour (yes! 60 minutes!) packing, riding an airplane, and taking turns being the driver (I gave them a new vocabulary word: pilot). Then they realized there was only one passport for all the kids. So I suggested we make passports. Using construction paper, stickers, markers and other craft materials we made passports.
During the free play I witnessed other subplots as well. Some children were having to prepare for the wedding they were going to attend once the airplane landed. (I guess it was a destination wedding! 😄) One child suggested bringing the doctor toys on the airplane in case someone gets sick “halfway there.” Some were going to a fancy restaurant, (must be nice to have the means to be able to travel via airplane for dinner right?) One child was going to find ninjas, (but isn’t the whole point of the ninja to not be found? 😄) The one that really affected me was the humanitarian aid subplot when one child told me she needed to go to Afghanistan because the people there need her help.
This is it guys! This is where the connections in the brain are happening! Synapses are occurring right before my very eyes and I get to be a part of it. I LOVE MY JOB!
This whole process was organic. They came up with everything on their own. This is child led play. When things are interesting to THEM, they learn.
They were being creative both with the ideas and with the artistic development of the passports. No two passports looked alike. They were being cooperative by taking turns at piloting and listening to each other’s ideas. They learned language with new vocabulary and rules of conversation. They learned a bit of geography. I brought down the globe and the children picked where they were going to travel. They learned about current events. And they opened their hearts to suffering across the ocean and that level of empathy is something I certainly I am not able to teach.
So. Much. Learning.
Child-led, play-based learning is my philosophy of teaching and today was one of the great days. My heart is full.