Tag Archives: Cooperation

Outdoor Activities

Spring is here and I’m finding it difficult to stay indoors.  Still, there is a lot of indoor work to do so sometimes I have to.  Luckily the children and I have been able to spend several hours outdoors each day.  Instead of spending too much time sitting here writing I’ll just post a few pictures and a brief description of some of their recent activities.

One day during spring break the children built ‘bridges’ all around the gravel area.  This activity was initiated by one of the children but all of the others joined in.  Everyone used the bridges/walkways.  Everyone helped create and modify the paths as needed.  There was no bickering, grabbing/pushing, or screeching ‘MINE!’ when pieces were rearranged.

15-04-bridge01The cooperation was amazing 🙂

15-04-bridge02Last week there was another magical cooperative activity.  The three-year-old built a ‘fire’ and roasted ‘marshmallows’;

15-04-marsh01She then shared them with her friends who were eager to accept her invitation to join the camp out;

15-04-marsh02On Friday we went for a super long walk up and down every street in the neighbourhood.  These toddlers are becoming expert hikers!  They are also very observant.  These one and two year olds were easily able to spot the woodpecker when they heard the sound.  The bird was barely visible so high up in the tree that my phone camera on maximum zoom could not capture it.  Still the toddlers focused on it and stood silently for over five minutes watching the busy bird.

15-04-walk01They also got excited about a ‘spaceship’ – this one took me longer to locate and not all the toddlers could see it but at least one was really thrilled about it;

15-04-walk02Love the imagination.

Toddlers in the Yard

The toddlers have been doing an amazing job with their curriculum planning.  They spent most of one morning diligently moving gravel from one corner of the yard to another.  They started by using the shovels to place the gravel on the little tree slices;

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Then they carried the tree slices from the NE corner of the yard – carefully so the gravel didn’t fall off – past all the obstacles;

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Around the hill to the SW corner of the yard where they dumped the gravel into a bowl;

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Sure, if they were into ‘products’ it would have been easier to just sat here and fill their bowls up quickly but they like the ‘process’.   This process involved fine motor, gross motor, cognitive skills, cooperation and a whole lot more.

Then there was the music – banging pots and pans;

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Creating rhythms with sticks on drums;

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Singing through the big hose to create special sound effects;

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At one point all four of them were involved in a rousing rendition of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ – it was amazing – just ask my neighbours 😉

Then there was ‘gym class’ where they practiced climbing up, dancing on, and jumping off the big stumps;

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Over in the garden there was story time – they love to tell Grandpa Tree amazing stories;

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Grandpa Tree is a wonderful listener – waiting patiently all day long to hear anything you want to share with him.

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Yes, the toddlers planned the perfect curriculum – I couldn’t have done any better.

Rockets

For many years there had been rockets in the playroom.  I don’t think I have ever had an actual toy rocket but the children have built rockets to play with.  Their preferred rocket building materials don’t come from the block bin.  They use items from the housekeeping area.

There hasn’t been any ‘rocket’ play for the past year so I looked for an old picture of the children engaged in this activity.  I have nearly 4500 childcare photos on my computer so this proved to be a time consuming task.  The only one I could find before I gave up was this one;

rocket01Sorry, it is not a very good quality photo – to get it I cropped a small section of a larger photo.  I don’t actually think they are using it as a rocket in this photo, it seems to be a shaker of something that they are adding to a recipe.  However, they do have the cups placed on the bottle that I wanted to show you.  Here is a picture I just took of the ‘supplies’.

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I don’t remember which child originally discovered that those cups fit perfectly on those bottles – it was so very long ago.  It has been an ongoing activity passed on through several groups of children over the years.  There has always been one problem and you might be able to guess it if you look at the above photo (hint: how many cups vs how many bottles).

If only one child was playing then all three cups would be put on one bottle – like the shaker in the first photo.  If two (or more) children wanted to play and have ‘rocket races’ then this would happen;

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Seriously, they would never agree to only use one cup on each bottle and put the third cup away.   There was always one rocket that was bigger, and more powerful, that the other.  Some days I dreaded the rocket races.

The rocket play has fizzled out over the last year.  The older children have not passed the game on to the young group I currently have.  Yet, earlier this week the baby of the group did something that was very, very interesting.  Take a look;

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I didn’t manage to get them all in the photo but there are three of those milk jugs.  Three jugs, three cups, three rockets that have yet to lift off.  Impressive.  The others haven’t noticed yet, but there are four toddlers….

 

Back At It

It has been a busy week.  I have several posts I’d like to write but no time to do so.  Today I’ll just post a few pictures of some of the things I’ve observed as the children are settling back in after the holidays.

There was this interesting use for a ‘drill’;

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Look familiar?

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I have no idea why but this has been the favorite ‘accessory’ for several days;

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This was an ‘orphanage’;

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This child arranged the bells to play some music and did some colour matching too;

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I loved watching the infants/toddlers solve this problem;

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Actually, you can’t see it from here – and they couldn’t either which was what the problem was.  The picture above was taken from the open side of the block bin.  The back side has a clear plastic panel which allows the children to see through to the music area but prevents the blocks from falling on the floor where others may be dancing.

There was one little carpet square that had slipped into the space between the bin frame and the plastic panel.  The toddlers could only see it when they were in the music area;

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It wasn’t stuck but when they noticed it from the music area they would go around to the block area to ‘fix’ it but from the open side of the bin then they couldn’t see the stray piece of carpet.  On and off for two days they contemplated how to get this piece of carpet.

They’ve fixed it now.  I could have done it for them or shown them how but letting them work it out on their own was better – developing problem solving skills and learning to cooperate with others.

Machines

It has been nearly two weeks since I added the pipes to soften the corners of the items attached to the loft.  These pipes have been very popular – the children usually refer to them as some type of ‘machine’.

It has been somewhat difficult to get pictures of the machine ‘in action’ because there are usually so many children crowded around.  I have managed to get a few – here they are using the pipes as a ‘drink machine’;

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Which was expanded to include the tubes under the loft too;

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We discovered that some of the milk containers are too tall to fit in the space between the floor and the bottom of the vertical pipe.  There was a bit of panic when they realized they couldn’t get the container out of the bottom of the pipe and none of us could reach it from the top either.

After some trial and error we learned that if several smaller containers are inserted into the bottom of the pipe the ‘too tall’ container is  eventually pushed all the way out the top of the pipe.  This was how the ‘elevator’ was invented.  Since then many of the little people toys have taken a ride in the elevator.

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Add a bin at the lower end of the diagonal pipe and you’ve got ‘the clean-up machine’;

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Sometimes one child will look through the upper end of the diagonal pipe while another child sits under the loft and places various items under the lower end of the pipe.  This creates a microscope/telescope/I Spy game.

It has also been used as a x-ray machine or laser to diagnose and treat injured stuffed animals.  So far I’ve been unable to get a decent picture of the children engaged in this activity – threre is no room for reporters in the emergency room.

Two simple pipes and plenty of open ended creative play 🙂

 

 

Let’s Be Fair

Every day begins the same.  As the children arrive they agree on an activity to play together and begin the process of making sure everything is ‘fair’.  This is a very, very, long process.  In fact, often the actual game never even begins because they can’t agree on what is ‘fair’ so they switch to another activity instead – another activity with another set of toys and another lengthy period of deliberation over what will be ‘fair’.

The problem is that each has a different definition of ‘fair’.

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The ‘quantity’ child believes that it is fair if everyone involved has the exact same number of toys.  ‘Quantity’ maintains that everyone must have the same number of characters, blocks etc. before play can begin.  Even if the other children involved only want one or two toys this child delays the game until everyone has an equal number of the toys to use.  “That’s not fair!” is often heard.

‘Ruler’ insists that all the biggest, most powerful toys belong to their personal group of toys.  ‘Ruler’ often tries to use ‘Quantity’ as an ally by pointing out that each of them has the same number of toys so it is fair.  In essence it is not fair because although the number of items is equal, the quality is not. ‘Ruler’ is a very competitive child for whom ‘fair’ means they are in charge and their team always wins.

‘Cluster’ doesn’t really care how many toys are on their team as long as they all match.  ‘Cluster’ wants all the members of a family group and doesn’t worry if someone else has more toys or better toys. ‘Cluster’ believes it is fair when everything matches and gets frustrated when ‘Quantity’ insists on assigning additional dissimilar members to ‘Cluster’s’ families.  Another conflict occurs because all the ‘fathers’ of the family groups tend to also be the power toys that ‘Ruler’ has already claimed thereby leaving ‘Cluster’s’ families incomplete.

‘CoOp’ will happily accept any toys the others don’t want to use.  CoOp has favourite toys but they don’t mind if others use them and will wait patiently while the others choose and set up the activity.  ‘CoOp’ will never complain nor be assertive.  ‘CoOp’ believes it is fair when everyone is able to participate harmoniously – conflict is their greatest fear.  ‘CoOp’ often ends up playing alone either because they felt overwhelmed by the negotiations or the others failed to invite them to play.

‘Tyrant’ is impulsive – recklessly stumbling through block structures and grabbing any toys that appear interesting at the moment.  It doesn’t matter if the toy is in a bin, on the floor or in someone else’s hand, the moment ‘Tyrant’ wants it ‘Tyrant’ takes it.  Thankfully ‘Tyrant’ tends to have a short attention span so the toy is usually soon returned to its original user. Sometimes ‘Tyrant’s’ behaviour is fuelled by the reaction so it is important not to overreact to because it will intensify the conflict.  “Tyrant’ is usually a toddler so the behaviour is a ‘normal’.

Actually, all these children are ‘normal’.  They represent the children of various ages, temperaments and developmental levels who co-exist in a family childcare setting.  The conflicts don’t mean the children need to be separated or that an adult needs to intervene.  The conflicts mean that the children are learning to get along with others who have a different point of view.

Fair is not always equal.  Fair is not always the same.  Fair is not always without conflict.  Accepting the conflict is difficult but it is part of the process – the process of learning to be fair.

Ice and Outdoor Play

We’re nearing the end of Spring Break with a mix of sorrow and relief.  We have enjoyed the reprieve from the rigorous school schedule.  However, I have found that the school age children require considerably more structure and guidance than any of the younger children and I am exhausted.

Luckily Mother Nature has provided us with terrific weather – warm enough that we can spend our entire morning outdoors but not so warm that we get completely soaked.  Outdoors is the only place this group of school age children have been able to demonstrate any cooperative play.

I mentioned in my last post that my husband shovelled the snow off the roof of the shed and buried the garden path – we still haven’t managed to clear out all that snow.  Now my husband chopped off some of the thick layer of ice from the shed roof. We have found that the ice pieces are far more useful to have in the yard;

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One of the children thought they should “put together the puzzle’ but that activity only lasted a few minutes before it was deemed to be too difficult.

Some of the ice chunks were huge and required some problem solving skills to move;

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After spending two days clearing most of the snow from the tunnel under the hill the children now used the larger pieces of ice to block the tunnel entrance;

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I was informed that this piece of ice was “too heavy to carry” – probably due to the weight of the ‘skater’;

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They even found a small patch of fluffy snow in the corner of the yard that was perfect for this little snow person;

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Yes, hours of outdoor play is the best way to spend Spring Break.