Reposted from Mrs. Sterling’s Preschool Class Blog:
“This week, as we’ve continued our discussions on friendship, ‘working together, otherwise known as cooperating, has been our focus. Over the past couple weeks I’ve concluded that active participation seems to make the greatest impression on these young minds so we stuck with this learning model and I capitalized on every opportunity to point out when members of our preschool team were in cooperation mode. Fortunately, I’ve had lots of great examples: when the kids go through their morning routine; when they participate in circle each morning; when they discover ways to work together in free play time; as we clean up our room; when the kids responsibly complete their daily duties and/or respect each other in the process; when they respond to a call for help and provide assistance throughout the day; and how they generally interact with each other in positive and helpful ways. Many of these cooperative efforts have allowed us to revisit past lessons on being a responsible member of a community, using helping hands, and sharing.
To really emphasize the concept of cooperation and give the kids additional examples we could explore, we read and discussed a variety of relevant stories: Swimmy, Rainbow Fish and Rainbow Fish to the Rescue, David’s Drawings, Stone Soup, Burgoo Stew, and Fandango Stew. Next came the creative explorations. We made paper-bag rainbow fish complete with flashing scales. We painted other fish shapes and added glitter to represent the community of fishy friends that developed after Rainbow Fish shared his scales. We worked together to create a colorful and super-sized Rainbow Fish who, in the second story, encouraged the other fish to join forces to rescue a fellow fish in danger. We replicated the giant fish created by Swimmy and friends when they all swam in formation. When working together, they found courage to face predators and swim in the open sea. Inspired by David and his classmates, we created a cooperative drawing, each member of our preschool team offering their individual contributions to one paper. Most of these creative efforts are incorporated in the hallway bulletin board display just outside our classroom. The projects were intended to reinforce the power of cooperation present in the stories but also to allow the kids to directly experience the value and success of combined effort.
The reinforcement didn’t end there. After reading the variations of Stone Soup, we branched out from art into food. On Tuesday the kids helped to prepare our own chicken noodle Stone Soup. Our proverbial ‘watched pot’ did take a long time to cook but excitement remained high. Before the day was out, we’d not only enjoyed it ourselves, but we’d shared the bounty of our cooperative efforts with various members of our Riverstone community. Then Wednesday, each child contributed to our Friendship Fruit Salad. By combining our efforts, we enjoyed a delicious and varied snack. (PS Thanks Parents for making it possible!) We’re also discovering that sharing and working together is so much more fun than not.
Also during the week, unrelated to any literature, we found fun ways to be cooperative. We formed an impromptu band, making music together, focusing on playing together with coordinated stop and go rhythms. Self control is a pretty hard thing to master at such a young age but they all tried. We also banded together to build a tall block tower. The tower did topple several times but we were laughing together, rebuilding it together, and having fun … together! We focused on working as a group, invested in a common goal. Every afternoon before going home, we’ve been playing a round or two of Memory. In some other games the kids have been vying to be the “winner” but in this game, they’ve been celebrating each match that is made, regardless of who makes it. The kids worked on patience, taking turns, and finishing the game together. We’ve continued to play our balloon games – keeping the balloon aloft for as long as possible. Maybe I imagine it but the mayhem in this game seems to have diminished a bit as the kids become accustomed to playing it together, trusting they will get a turn.
Encouraging each other and letting go of individual preferences to embrace a group effort is a long process. Not every activity noted above went off without a hitch. Reminders were needed, encouragement was given, hurt feelings were soothed. As with all skill development, the more we practice it, the easier it will become. Here’s to a year of productive practice by Team Preschool!”