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Slice of Life with Little Ones

On teaching the Ducklings & Chickadees 2016-17
--Samantha Gesualdi, aka Miss G.--

THE MESS     Working at a play-based school has taught me
a lot of things as a teacher, things a text book
could never quite prepare me for.
 One lesson I will carry with me through my professional years is to expect a mess. 
A big mess. 
There will always be a mess to clean up, and that's okay. 
Sometimes, clutter and disorder in the classroom carries a sense of chaos, disorganization,
and unruliness for the students. 

However, I have learned that a mess mostly symbolizes positive things in a child-centered classroom. 

For instance, it could indicate the children's enthusiasm for an art project, the dedication to some dramatic play scenario, or the intense effort put into digging for worms in the dirt plot outside. 

The right kind of mess can even give me insight on what my students' interests or disinterests are. 
Recently, Mrs. Bearce and I encountered a mess that would send some running for the hills. 

Have you ever wiped off shaving cream from the walls? Or found a mysterious gob of it in your shirt pocket? 
We did. 
It was one of those messes and while the aftermath of the activity cost us almost a roll of paper towels, the actual experience was memorable. 

Initially, I didn't have many expectations for the shaving cream activity.  I simply wanted the children to construct their own sensory understanding of the experience, and go from there. 

First, I placed some toy animal figures on trays, then called a few children over.  We talked about the different animals and which ones they liked best. 

Next, I proposed we add something to the trays.  I showed them the can of shaving cream and warned them that it might stick to our animal friends. 

They seemed intrigued.
          "Will the animals like it?" someone asked.
"I don't really know if they will like it.  I like it.  Let me show you."

I sprayed some of the shaving cream on my hand and then on the trays.  Immediately, the child closest to me asked the million dollar question...

It was clear to me that my students were interested in the shaving cream and were craving some more information about it. 

Simply showing them wasn't enough. 

While I explained the real purpose of shaving cream and how we planned on using it for fun, some more children made their way over. 
Eventually, everyone was engaged in the activity. 

Some children remarked on  it's "icky sticky" quality, some were determined to bury the animals in it, some even made animal tracks in the shaving cream. 

If I remember correctly, someone even attempted to wash their hair with it.

Although the actual cleaning up of the activity lasted longer than the activity itself, I consider it a wild success.   I was able to note which of my students didn't care for too much sensory play and which ones delighted in it.  

I listened to their stories and celebrated their adorable facial expressions. 

I learned more about what drives their curiosity. 

I enjoyed them. They enjoyed the activity!

Sure, there was a mess. 

A big mess.

If we're lucky,

there will be another mess tomorrow. 
Copyright © 2016 LAWRENCEVILLE PRESBYTERIAN PRESCHOOL, All rights reserved.

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