Cooking is one of kids most favorable activities in school. Apart from being a great life-derived play, cooking assists toddlers to get acquainted with a good number of skills.
Getting in touch with math, for example, in the age of 2.5 y.o is greatly achieved through cooking. Children start to understand what does it mean “two spoonful of sugar” or “4 eggs”.
Their fine motor skills also are greatly enhanced, as well as their decision making skills. “Which goes first, the oil or the cheese?” The purpose is not to give them answers, but encourage them to think for themselves.
As it always goes on play: we do not cook to learn, but we learn so much while cooking!
Everyday, children bring in school questions and ideas arising from their own life. For example, they all have in home displays and other IT equipment but hardly ever have the chance to find out how do those things look, from inside.
So, whenever this question comes in school, and the truth is it comes quite often, we just give them old pieces of HW and screwdrivers, to find out on their own. It’s always so much fun!
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.
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.
Returning from Christmas Holidays, pre-Ks started describing how they spent Christmas time. Each one had a story to tell about relatives visiting his/her house or about a beautiful gathering at a friend’s home.
So, they decided it would be a good idea to invite over the post-toddlers’ class, for the first tea party of the year!
They wrote and distributed the invitation and prepared a welcome note!
They got excited by their own creations (look below Anastasis and George astonished in front of the welcome note they wrote, hanging on the wall!!)
They rearranged tables and chairs in such a way that we could all sit together! Children from both classes had lot of fun!!!
Having finished the tea party and after cleaning the class, Rosa said: “I really loved that! Can we have one more tomorrow, please?”
(by Spyridoula Patouna, teacher in Pre-K class, in Athens)
Toddlers class (2-3 y.o.) is usually the point in time for children to start experimenting physically. They feel strong now and ready to take risks.
Here, risky play gets into the picture. Of course, we do not encourage children in school to jump out of the windows! But, on the other hand, we do not either overprotect them when seem ready and confident to take the extra mile…
Watch Dimitris in the following video, to consciously explore how it feels to fell!
(video by Jenny Diamantopoulou, teacher in toddlers’ class in Athens)