The way an activity is presented to the children has a powerful impact on its potential for learning. Skilled adults provoke children's interest and curiosity through the way they set up resources. This invites children in, leading them to become engaged and motivated, with opportunities to extend their thinking.
A child entered into this activity, tempted in through the adult’s arrangement of a tree with bark and leaves, and a bird using circles of wood and sticks for a beak and legs. This was rooted in the children's interest in the different birds from our recent story focus of “Chicken Licken”.
As a variety of natural objects are available for exploration, presented in baskets for the children to select freely, this enabled her to build upon and develop her own ideas in the following ways.
Shiny stones were selected and lined up to mark out the mouse house. Then finally, pine cones were carefully arranged for the Gruffalo’s cave, complete with a piece of bark stood up as his door.
These natural loose parts had been used by the child to create a complete story environment. A toy mouse could then explore and visit each of the character’s homes, retelling the story in her own way.
From an inspiring starting point, ideas evolved through the child’s own story knowledge and creativity. Freedom to select and arrange these natural objects gave the control to make her own choices and decisions. The open ended nature of this activity gave her the opportunity to use objects to represent the features of a story she knows well and remain motivated through her own interests.
This activity was an effective context in which she could use her communication skills to express her ideas. Also physical and mathematical experience was gained through manipulating and arranging the objects carefully. Access to this variety of natural materials also increases understanding of the world around us.
All this learning and imagination from such simple resources, and so much fun!