Slow Down, Mr. Smith

Tree House

Tree House

Recently I worked with Jennifer Azzariti, an experienced Reggio leader.  She observed my work with two groups of children.  The first group was a group of 4 boys who continue to have an interest in the tree house project.

The first thing that the children and I did was to review our documentation board to look at the progress of this project and where we might go with it.  We looked at some pictures from the work with the tree house.  We talked about the strong points of the work so far and about the challenges that lay ahead if we continued with the work on the tree house.  The 4 boys were inspired to continue the work.

To get ready for our work with Jennifer we packed up our little Red Flyer wagon with clipboards, paper, pencils, and blankets.  At the site of the tree house project we decided that we needed something stronger to act as the base for the house.  So we took the wagon over to the tot lot where there were some tree cookies on the outside of the fence.  These tree cookies come from a couple of trees that were diseased and cut down several months ago.  We loaded two of these into the red wagon and hauled them to our site.  The children began to work on building the house.  After about an hour of work we all sketched the work that had been done using clipboards, paper, and pencils.  Later during the week the four boys who sketched the tree house wrote about their individual and collaborative work on the house with Mr. Smith.  These can be viewed on the tree house documentation board.

Jennifer observed my work with another group.  This group was working with the Gift of Light project.  We children and I reviewed our documentation boards to review the progress of the project up to this point.  We decided to simulate another darkness experience in the dark zone in our classroom.

After this experience I asked the children to choose from different materials that I had set aside to create what it felt like to be in darkness.  Wire, a new material the children had not thoroughly explored, was added.

The children were more focused on experimenting with the wire than actually creating the project.  It was not what I had envisioned with this activity.  So was the time wasted?  Not at all!  The children enjoyed just exploring the properties of wire and what can be done with it.  What a valuable experience for both the children and me!

Jennifer came back after school a day later so that we could debrief.  Her message to me, “SLOW DOWN.”  She reminded me that we have plenty of time and there’s no rush to complete these projects.  Children should be given ample time to be introduced to materials and for exploration with materials.  What a great lesson!  Thanks, Jennifer.


2 thoughts on “Slow Down, Mr. Smith

  1. I just showed Clay this picture and the bird feeders and without any context asked him to explain to me what it was and how it was built. He was SO excited to give me the step by step details of how the tree house came to be and how he made the bird feeder. I love how his explanation for these projects is very similar to yours, with subtle differences. (such as he rode in the little red wagon to get the tree cookies.)

    • Josie, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me, but most importantly thanks for sharing the blog with Clay. I love that he added his own details – things that are more important to him, like riding in the little red wagon. Happy Holidays! Darrell

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