March 29, 21
December Bean Caper
As A.M. was finishing up his lunch, he announced “My bean is on the floor.”
Karen came over and moved the chair and said, “There it is.”
“I need to get it!” said A.M. while stretching towards it, “I can’t get it.”
Michelle rushed over and said “I’ll hold your legs.”
Soon E.M., B.T. and Z.L were over helping. B.T. held onto Michelle’s legs, Z.L. held onto B.T.’s legs and E.M. held onto Z.L.’s legs. A.M. leaned over more so that his body looked like a triangle. Somehow A.M.’s sock came off and Z.L. helped put it back on.
Karen, observing the situation, sat down and stated “I am doing slow.”
Time passed and A.M. finally got the kidney bean. “Now it’s dirty!” exclaimed Asher.
Karen asked, “How can we clean it?”
A.M. picked up the bean and Z.L. offered to carry it to the sink. While Z.L. was holding it, A.M. said “Hold on tight to my bean!”
It was a whole mess of kids as more began to find ways to help with the problematic bean. We figured out that A.M. could wash it and Z.L. continued helping him. While standing halfway between the circle table and the sink, A.M. said “E.M. try to get my socks off now!”
Karen thought, “Now you are tempting fate.” The sock came off. Z.L. patiently put it back on. Eventually the bean got washed.
Meanwhile the kids were all over the floor. Michelle tried saying “Karen and I will close our eyes and count to three, then when we open them all of you will be sitting at the tables.”
“One, two, three!”
Michelle and Karen’s opened their eyes and all the kids were still on the floor. Looking around the room, Michelle exclaimed “That didn’t work!”
Karen and Michelle were laughing and smiling. The children were also laughing and smiling.
Thoughts and Interviews:
Karen asked, “What did you do?” P.C. “I did nothing”
G.G., “I played”
B.T., “I pulled on Michelle’s legs”
I am so impressed how Z.L. connected with A.M. and helped him.
Michelle and I were looking at each other laughing and smiling probably thinking about all the cool things that were happening in this moment.
I thought it was cool how all the kids were connecting and helping.
I think this has elements of slow in it even though there was a lot of frenzy. It would have been good to have some photos or videos, but the act of filming would have changed what happened so would have having another adult in the room.
Because of our curiosity to experiment with new materials in the classroom, our Pedagogist suggested that Carolyn and I read a book called Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education. In this book, the authors talk about our relationships with materials, and the way materials shape our worlds. Instead of seeing materials as passive, Kind, Kocher, and Pacini-Ketchabaw (2016) write that materials are “active and participatory” (p. 2). For me, working with this idea means that I will not just observe how children are using materials but also how material and children interact with each other –considering what the material invites or provokes. Carolyn and I have decided to think more about what this means by exploring black paint within our classroom. We chose to bring in black paint, as this material rarely makes it into the infant toddler room where bright colours are often more prevalent, and we want to see what happens with something less familiar to the children.
We are hoping to bring a sense of joy, curiosity, and experimentation to this work by “being open to something new, a way of thinking and doing that did not previously exist… to go beyond the normative practices to create and tell different stories of knowing and being in our common world." (Early Learning Framework,13), and to start to “know the power, vibrancy, timeliness, possibilities, and consequences of a material” (p. 6). We hope that with this experience, we will get a better understanding of how children and materials interact together, how children learn, and how we can shape interactions with materials so that they are meaningful. We hope to come with an openness to what the children are capable of, and what may occur! We would like to see what will happen when we get to know one material intimately and when we are open to following the child’s lead and responding to their curiosities.
We plan to explore black paint for a couple of months - or how long children are interested - with a different arrangement. Once or twice a week we’re going to take a small group of children so we have the opportunity to document and observe close children’s interactions with the materials.
-Carolyn, Bruna & Frances
Pacini-Ketchabaw, V., Kind, S., & Kasher, L. L. (2017). Encounters with materials in early childhood education. New York: Routledge.
Province of BC. (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing.