Making Binoculars

“How do you get them to stay together?” “You have to use tape. See, like this. ”


At our daily meeting, we ask each child if they have an idea for a plan to do that day. This is the foundation of our Emergent Curriculum. Today, a student said she wanted to make binoculars and many other students showed interest as well.


“Look! I can see!”


What if we work together?

A conflicted erupted around Legos. After their initial reactions, Jamie and Sean realized they were interested building similar things, and Sean suggested “What if we work together?”. This strategy worked really well, and after a time Jamie told Sean, “You’re my best friend.”

A short while later, another student, Ken, began playing with some blocks that Jamie had been using but left unattended for a time. James, now holding a truck, wanted them back but Ken said “No.” Jamie suggested, “You can load your pieces onto my truck. We can work together.” This transformed the situation and the kids played successfully together.

It is amazing to watch kids of different ages learn from each other, and figure out strategies of collaboration to get what they really want: connection.



Playing Library

Alison and Tia play library today. Checking books out, looking up there code, and then fining for returning books late!

“They just play all day? When do they learn?”

There is so much more then what meets the eye. Some people may simply see kids playing with toys in these pictures. Let me tell you what I see…


I see engineers at work. I see skillfully constructed structures/robots/buildings/zoos/airports, built from the ground up. I see critical thinkers using multiple materials, in multiple ways, working to construct the idea/picture/map in their head.

I see mathematicians and scientists. Through play such as this, children are using one-to-one correspondence, and are exploring sorting, counting, and toying with patterns. They are classifying, creating and testing hypothesis, and observing cause and effect.

I see people learning to be people. In these pictures, children are exploring cooperation and teamwork. They are listening, communicating, negotiating, using creative problem-solving skills, building self-confidence, as well as empathy and respect.

Most importantly, I see joy!

“Nothing lights up a child’s brain like PLAY!”
-Dr. Stuart Brown

Sensory and light!

This week we did more experimenting and exploring with our light table. A clear bin on the table with extra large tapioca gave us an interesting mix of sensory and light to play with. The children enjoyed scooping, squishing, dumping, and rolling the tapioca as well as spreading them out and seeing the light shine around and through them.

Introducing the Light Table

A student stacks three identically shaped blocks, each a different color, one on top of the other. He closely examines this structure, with a dry erase marker in his hand, and pauses for a moment. He then gently places one hand on top of the structure before drawing on it (he understands that it would fall otherwise).

As the children interacted with the light table this week they explored concepts such as shape, architecture, fine motor skills, composition, and construction. In this example, we notice that the marks made were clearly influenced and inspired shape of the object.

The Light Table

In an open-ended offering such as this, there is no right or wrong way to use the materials. This offering promotes creativity and exploration, inviting many different interpretations of how one might use these materials. While some individuals drew directly on the light table, others determined that the shapes and blocks were the ideal surface for drawing. Many of these creations were collaborative. In this example, one child creates a new color by layering several different colored shapes, and another child drew more shapes, lines, and squiggles on the surface of the shape.

The Light Table


Collaborating with Trains

In the morning, Baxter set up the big blocks with the idea of using them as a balance beam. The children had a different idea- Rebel brought in the trains and started to use the blocks as roads and tunnels! Other people joined in and chatted with each other about where the cars and trains were going.

Running a Restaurant

What started as a small dramatic play game grew to incorporate almost everyone on Tuesday, becoming a whole restaurant with servers, chefs, customers, an ever-growing menu selection, and the invention of money. After some modeling of how to make a dollar bill with the number 1 at each corner, the kids divided up to do their various jobs while the people in the “bank” made and counted dollars for both the restaurant and customers. It was interesting to see how some people understood the idea of needing to be paid for food, while others simply liked to share both money and food, making both for the customers and the restaurant without discrimination.

Restaurant Play

Let The Children Play!

“Dramatic play can be defined as a type of play where children accept and assign roles, and then act them out. It is a time when they break through the walls of reality, pretend to be someone or something different from themselves, and dramatize situations and actions to go along with the roles they have chosen to play.” ( 2008)

Play based learning

Sometimes as adults, we may not realize all the skills children are are developing in play, as it can seem a bit frivolous, and it may not be obvious why it is SO very important. During dramatic play such as this, children work on cognitive skills, language skills, abstract thinking skills, problem solving skills, and gross/fine motor skills. Dramatic play also encourages empathy, negotiation, and cooperation. As Einstein once said, “Play is the highest form of research.”