Trampoline: jumping, counting, taking turns from Thomas Bedard on Vimeo.
This play is totally child-directed. It is their idea to count. Are they using the counting as a way to measure the length of their turn? Think about this in contrast to a teacher counting to measure the length of a turn. A teacher would count so each child would have the same amount of time on the trampoline. For the children, it is the gestalt of counting and jumping with no concern about who jumps more.
The turn-taking is also child-directed. Again, think about this in contrast to a teacher directing the turn-taking. A teacher would line the children up in row so each child knows who comes next. And there will be no butting in. However, when children organically take turns with no adult interference or enforcement, the children get a real chance to self-regulate.
In the children's eyes, the mini trampolines have an unlimited potential for play in other developmental domains. For dramatic play, the children below use the trampoline along with a baby blanket from the housekeeping area to serve as a bed to advance their play scenario.
And here is a type of literacy which usually flies under the radar. The child below is "reading" the picture taken the week before of some children trampoline running. His understanding of the action in the picture offers an invitation for him to do the same.
And sometimes, something extraordinary happens. The child below has notices the little pictures inside the bigger picture. She is reading pictures inside a picture!
Are trampolines made for jumping? Yes, but for children they are so much more. Children read space and materials differently than adults. So often, adults read the space and materials with their head: I know that a trampoline is for jumping. However, children read space and materials with their body and their head. By using their body and head together to explore the space and materials, the children create a richness, that if appreciated, is mind-opening for adults. More importantly, though, it is fulfilling the need for a body/mind connection as children inhabit and make sense of the world.
P.S. My last four posts have highlighted large muscle play in the classroom. I have not forgotten about sand and water tables. In fact, many of the dispositions informing play in both areas are the same. If you are attending the NAEYC annual conference and would like to join a discussion about the need for children to move to learn in the classroom and outdoors, three of my colleagues and I will be holding a three-hour session on Wednesday morning at the conference. It is entitled Teaching with the Body in Mind. If you come, please come up and introduce yourself.