We do offer a DIY class in kindergarten, in order to introduce 6 y.o. children into creative thinking & problem solving attitude.
For example: by constructing a hydraulic robotic arm from scratch, children transfer their play into real life conditions by engaging in the following. They:
- Derive the plan
- Measure the dimensions
- Cut the wood
- Trial and error to make the junctions work
- Understand how the hydraulic pumps work
- Team & coordinate to make the arm move in all three dimensions
While the above consist the most fascinating play, yet encourage children to develop numbers of skills and engage deeply into creative thinking and innovation.
But most of all it’s just freely selected & non-directed play. Adults do not direct or impose, only inspire and facilitate. It’s not by coincidence that, when such a project is over, children rarely play with the outcome. They have enjoyed most playing during the construction!
In a truly play-based environment, every single item can be transformed into a hat, a shoe, a wheel or a stool. That is why our spaces often look like junkyards!
Children should feel completely free to engage into play with anything that exists around, no matter what it may be; so they imagine, innovate, combine, cooperate and develop independent thinking, on a free will basis.
Ropes make for one of the best loose parts’ play in preschool! Watch the next video:
Talking about winter fruits in our English pre-k class. We introduced new vocabulary by giving fresh fruit to the children to feel, smell and taste. With their eyes closed they were able to identify and name them all!
Then, we made a fruit salad. After we ate it all we played games in the yard.
We rolled plastic fruit to see how far they can go…
….hang them high and tried to hit them with improvised bats.
We also had a real grocery store set up in our dramatic play area!
The next day we decided to make smoothies. We came up with a recipe….
….executed it and decided whether we like it or not!
(by Claire Hadjinikolaou, English teacher in Athens school)
Loose parts like pipes, tubes, tires, balls of any kind, all are priceless tools for never ending play in a preschool.
Children love to create the most unusual type of connections between the objects and explore their physical and imaginative limits.
In a play-based preschool, babies’ class runs on a continuous providing of sensory-type real life stimuli, assisting this way children to discover the world through their senses, while playing.
This philosophy does not change even during party events! So, in Dorothy Snot, the annual ritual of Christmas Party for babies class (1-2 y.o), always goes as follows:
- It is held in school, while other classes party in some kind of large theaters. Babies need a stable and familiar environment
- It involves extensive parents’ participation, to boost the enthusiasm of the children and to ensure whole family celebrates kids’ first Christmas party ever!
- It is based on a set of interactive play activities, connected to children recent school experiences, which lead to a festive ending (i.e. decorating our Christmas tree)
- It utilizes life-derived loose parts and lots of sensory play
So, please click on the following set of photos to get an idea of 2016 babies’ class Christmas party in Dorothy Snot preschool!
Suddenly, large and small boxes appeared in toddlers’ classroom. What could we do with them?
We turned them into sofas, exactly like in the stories we read. We imagined sailing in the sea and boxes were transformed into boats!
We played “hide and seek” and we found unique ways to hide ourselves inside the boxes. We had fun, we played and we learned! We got familiar with special notions such us “in and out”. We practiced our gross and our fine motor skills.
Last but not least, we learned to share and to wait for our turn! We became more sociable and friendly. We came closer and bonded more!
(by Evangelia Nteka, teacher in toddlers’ class in Athens)
Some times it takes just a balloon to keeps babies happy. Just hang it from the roof and let them play with it!
(by Anastasia Kouroubali, teacher in babies’ class in Athens)
“Let’s play basketball” someone said… And so, kindergarten kids just constructed a pop up basket from used tires!
They arranged by themselves a shooting order and patiently waited for their turn. They were little puzzled about how to get the ball out of this basket and needed to come up with some original solutions.
Through this spontaneous yard play, kindergarten children accomplished a bunch of educational milestones by themselves, just being based on pleasure and joy! Priceless….
(by Ioanna Eleftheriou & Stavroula Gaoutsi, teachers in our Athens kindergarten)
Babies in preschool love playing with life-derived loose parts! Fantastic sensory play with messy stuff, assisting them to discover the world.
(by Maria Gryllaki, teacher in babies class in Athens)