What is THAT thing teachers at Fort Mill Cooperative Preschool do that is so MAGICAL?
And how can parents keep a love of learning alive at home with very little stress?
It is as simple as setting out some materials, and rather than show children how to do something or what to make, we open the door to creativity and cognitive development.
Four simple steps:
- Select open-ended materials–something you can use in many ways. There is no right or wrong. I.e. Playdough, crayons and paper, soapy water in a tupperware container and small scoops, clothes to play dress up in, etc,
- Put the materials in a place you aren’t going to worry about getting messy and display at child height. On a coffee table or on a floor without carpet (like the kitchen) is a good choice.
- Display the materials in a special way, almost like you are preparing for a fancy dinner. Think of it as a store display or a playspace fit for a prince or princess. The point is to make it inviting.
- Invite your child to explore the materials. Simple questions such as, “What is that?” Or “Oh wow! Look at all the bubbles!” Draw children in.
You can leave them to play and explore on their own, or you may wish to join them. If you choose to join, resist the urge to tell them what to do, instead ask questions like, “What will you make? Can you make it bigger? Will you hand me the red one? What do you think would happen if…” etc.
You can also make observational statements like, “I’m playing with the blue playdough. I see you have the green. Oh wow, your bubbles are bigger than mine.”
These type of questions and statements help children think critically about cause and effect and use problem solving skills. It also is a great way to review counting and colors, or even letters without using flashcards, drills, or electronics. Unlike tablets and computer games, children develop fine and gross motor skills as they play and learn.
Here are some photos of one such Provocation. There are also countless activities that can be located with a quick Google or Pinterest search.