Put that back!

Put that back!
During my training and NQT year in year one I was warned about children ‘transporting’ (taking resources from one area to another) around the classroom and was told I need to train them to stop this as early on as possible. This means only using resources in the area that they have been put by the teacher. I have to be honest; I’ve never had an issue with transporting. Children see the world in a very different way to adults and frequently think of far more imaginative ways to use resources than we would be able to. I learned a lesson this week from a group of children about how to get the most out of an investigation area!
Having spent the holidays creating my provision areas, the area that I was least impressed with at the end was my investigation area. We are learning about materials this term so I stocked it with books about materials, a variety of natural and man-made materials, beads, shells, sorting hoops… but I wasn’t inspired by it. I thought “I’ll see how it goes but I’ll have to think of something exciting to change it into.”
I needn’t have worried; on our second day in the classroom a group of children changed it for me. It started with two girls laying out all the different buttons and beads on the flat stones to make a display. They then fetched the money from the maths area so that they could turn it into a jewellery shop. For the rest of the afternoon they were engrossed in sorting the beads and working out how much they should charge for them.
The next morning when they arrived in the classroom they found a sign saying ‘jewellery shop’ attached to the shelves and some jewellery design sheets had been added. That morning was spent designing necklaces and labelling the various materials that they would need to make them. One little girl insisted that the beads all be threaded in a repeating pattern. So back to the maths area they went to retrieve the wooden beads and thread and experimented with different repeating patterns. At this point, apart from the enhancements I put in provision and the occasional question, there had been no direct adult input. They knew I was there to help but made it very clear that they didn’t need me- this was THEIR area now!
My time to become directly involved came that afternoon. The children had found they couldn’t use the chunky shoelaces to thread the metal buttons and beads as it was too wide- did I have anything thinner? After a quick rummage in the cupboard I found blunt needles and embroidery thread. Would this do? Yes, they decided it would do. So we sat for the next hour, threading beads and deciding which of the beads we liked best and why. We priced up our beautiful creations, found the correct change to pay for them and modelled them around the classroom for all to see. Next week we will be photographing our jewellery and creating a catalogue with descriptions of the products to take for the head teacher to place her order.
I NEVER would have thought of making a jewellery shop as an area of provision. But in the space of a couple of days those children have found more learning opportunities in that investigation area than I could ever have hoped! It got me thinking- would this have happened if I had told them to “put that back!”?
To finish, a quote from “The Irresistible Classroom” by Community Playthings,
“Crossover between activity areas is natural. A child making spectacles in the workshop for role play, or bringing pebbles from the investigative area to decorate a block tower in the construction area, is making intelligent connections. This should be encouraged – after all, the goal of education is for children to lead their own learning forward!”

Hannah

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