A few years ago, my young niece picked up interesting coloring book while we vacationed in Mammoth Lakes, CA. This is no “stay within the lines” book, however. Titled Scribbles, this book is filled with nearly 400 creative, divergent, and open-ended thinking tasks.
Do you use centers in your primary classroom? If yes, you love them and can’t imagine life without them. If no, you can’t imagine how you could possibly trust your 30 to 35 students to work independently, nor can you figure out where you’d get the time to set them up.
Now comes the challenge: give each student three pieces of wire, each about a foot long. Ask them, “If you were to create something out of these wires, what would you make? Would it be related to the circus like Calder or something totally different?”
The priority is to nurture a love of learning, exploration, and problem solving by creating a flexible, content and activity–rich environment. Make a safe space where children can pursue that which sparks their interests from a selection of purposeful, multi-sensory, content-based activities. In this type of setting, poignant learning takes place as children work, explore, create, and observe.
By and large, we underestimate the learning capabilities of young students, beginning in preschool and extending through first or second grade. We tend to focus on the basics – alphabet, letters, numbers, individual words, basic shapes – in isolation, sometimes forgetting to add the richness of depth and complexity that allow students to learn on a deeper level, and provide interest for those students who already have already learned the particular skills.