Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Following Their Lead

When we allow children to be the leaders of their own learning experiences we never have to worry about whether they are interested in what we are teaching. Following their lead means sometimes chucking our original teaching plan in favor of honoring their thoughts and creativity. Teaching or parenting from this perspective is a surefire way to fill children with the unshakable belief that what they think is important and should be heard. It encourages them to take chances other children might shrink away from and puts them in the position to practice leadership from a very young age.  

This morning Jack came in with an idea in his mind for how he wanted to spend his day. He proudly showed me his half finished costume and asked if I could help him assemble it. I had planned on working with leaves and talking about gratitude but he was so fired up about his idea that we ran with it.

Jack had already completed the wings, and mask at home but needed help figuring out how to assemble them in a way that he could create a costume. I reminded him that the materials he had chosen were going to be a little tricky to use because the tear easily. I asked if he had any ideas in mind for putting it all together. He said, “Maybe we could use some tape.” He also showed me how he wanted the wings to go down his arms. We kicked around a few ideas, I suggested using a rod to hang the wings from but he said they wouldn’t lay the right way. Then we thought about tying them on with string but string would not keep the wings in place when he flapped his arms. Finally I thought of using our trusty binder clips to attach them to his shirt and it was just the ticket. He explained how I would need to position them so they would look the way he had envisioned them. Once I put on the last one, he was thrilled with the results.

I asked what the name of his guy was, he grinned a diabolical grin and said, “Vulture Man, he’s a bad guy.”

Jack also made a batmobile to go with his costume.

Everyone else thought Jack’s costume and batmobile were pretty cool. Pretty soon they were all clamoring about my feet asking for costume supplies. We got together to brainstorm some ideas for costumes. We thought about paper plate masks or some other pre made masks I had in the teacher closet. I remembered I had some birthday crowns that we hadn’t used in a while and everyone wanted one. We decorated them markers and bingo dabbers since everyone was too excited to wait for anything to dry! 

While we were working Jack decided he needed a shield to complete his outfit so we made those out of paper plates too.

Yoli added her own twist to her costume with a tutu and baby sling.

The kids had a great time wearing the costumes during the rest of the morning.

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