Like any conference, participants came looking for activities. For our session, they were looking for ways to foster large motor/big body/boisterous play. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. However, without examining the values and the assumptions behind those activities, one cannot begin to understand the different ways and layers of learning that children engage in as they physically explore any given set up. To that end, we offered several value statements and questions for discussion to the participants.
Below is one of the main setups we used for illustration purposes. A board was set up as a bridge between two sets of steps. If we valued order and turn-taking in the name of safety, we would make sure that only one child crossed the board at a time and that everyone crossed in the same direction.
That certainly held true even when the play on the bridge became loud and rambunctious. In the clip below, the children hung upside down and screamed. Some of them even tumbled off the bridge onto the mat. Even though there was a very real possibility of a foot hitting a head, no child got bonked in the process.
But wait, were the children really in control of their bodies? Was this acceptable risk taking or an example of anything goes?
We are all on a personal journey of becoming a teacher. It is not enough to simply copy activities. We must make them our own. And an important part of that process is to examine our values and assumptions around the activities we chose to copy or use. We cannot do it without the children so if you need inspiration, step back and watch the children as they make any part of the world their own.