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Early childhood education has been my life for over 30 years. I have taught all age groups from infants to 5-year-olds. I was a director for five years in the 1980s, but I returned to the classroom 22 years ago. My passion is watching the ways children explore and discover their world. In the classroom, everything starts with the reciprocal relationships between adults and children and between the children themselves. With that in mind, I plan and set up activities. But that is just the beginning. What actually happens is a flow that includes my efforts to invite, respond and support children's interface with those activities and with others in the room. Oh yeh, and along the way, the children change the activities to suit their own inventiveness and creativity. Now the processes become reciprocal with the children doing the inviting, responding and supporting. Young children are the best learners and teachers. I am truly fortunate to be a part of their journey.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The life of a big box in the classroom...continued

Last week, I began a post that showed the life of a big box in the classroom.  That life began with a fort made from four big boxes set up in the large muscle area of the classroom.

The four boxes were then moved to the sensory table where they were arranged so there was a box on each end and a box on each side. 

After they were removed from the sensory table, one of the big boxes became an extra room in the housekeeping area.

A second big box became a cabinet for the light table to cut down on some of the fluorescent light radiating from the ceiling lights.

What happened to the other two big boxes?  Using a utility knife and an old paper cutter, they were cut into bases and shapes for the children to make cardboard sculptures. 

With over a hundred children making sculptures, the last two boxes were gone.  In fact I had to find more cardboard.  That was really not so difficult. 

As it turned out, though, we were not done with gluing cardboard.  I decided to follow the individual projects with a large group cardboard sculpture.  I rounded up some more cardboard---again, not so hard.  I laid out a provocation using a large piece of cardboard as the base.  I glued a long, narrow box in the middle to give the invitation a third dimension.  

This was a group project across eight different classes and over a hundred children.  As you can imagine, it just kept growing from one class to the next.
It grew organically up and out.  By the end, it was about 5 feet long, 2.5 feet wide and 2 feet high.  Interestingly, we had to move it each day because we used this same table for snack.  The top of the light table cabinet was were it resided when it wasn't on the table.  Yet, another use for the big box!

That took a week, but we were not finished.  Next we painted the sculpture.  Before the children painted the sculpture, I spray painted the whole thing with black spray paint.  I only offered two colors for painting the sculpture: lavender and pink.

As the week progressed, the sculpture was easily covered in paint.  In fact, near the end of the week, the children were painting over the paint and adding design elements such as dots and stripes.

This was our masterpiece.  I hung it in the hall for all to see.  Underneath the sculpture, I displayed six pictures to show how it evolved.   Parents and other staff in the building were duly impressed.

In a matter of three months, the cardboard boxes inspired a fort, a sensory apparatus, an extra room in the house area, a cabinet for the light table, and both an individual and a group cardboard sculpture.  In other words, the boxes served as provocations in the large muscle area, at the sensory table, in the dramatic play area, with the manipulatives at the light table, and at the art table.   Not bad for a material that costs nothing.

Did I say I loved cardboard boxes?
 



4 comments:

  1. This is how small children should spend so much of their time :)

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  2. I absolutely love this...I wish I could be in your class.

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  3. Wow! So cool! I'm pretty excited about using this awesome idea!

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  4. What a great story, I love the collaboration on the large box project, definitely one to try with my class, thanks for sharing the whole story.

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