Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sometimes Solutions Are So Simple
I use to have my assistant check all the plants in the class after children watered them excessively and repeatedly so as to wipe up all the water drainage from the tops of shelves. Recently, I was in a classroom and observed a lesson on watering plants. I was fascinated by a small container of twisted bamboo sticks. I listened as the teacher instructed the student to place one of the bamboo sticks in the soil of a plant after they watered it.
This worked as a visual cue to other students that the plant had been already watered and that they should not water it again. During morning prep, the assistants of the class remove all of the sticks that were placed in plant soil the day before, clean them and return them to the little jar on the plant washing tray.
I don't have any of these twisted bamboo sticks, but I do have many, small bags of fancy toothpicks. They are the kind that you use with party appetizers. They have fancy foil decorations at the top. These will work fine. Ahhh, no more water stains on the top of my wooden shelves.
The second simple solution I observed involved the chains. I can't count the number of times I have told students, especially younger students, not to touch the chains. They seem to love holding a length of chains between their hands and sliding their hands up and down.
The solution that I observed involved a practical life activity - dusting.
I watched a young student dust each of the long and short chains, the bead cubes and the bead squares. The child used the regular duster for the larger bead cubes and the smaller, paint brush-like dusters for doing the chains and the bead squares. It was careful and concentrated work. It made me think of how caring for an object nourishes respect for the object.
Although, the child was too young to do math work with the material, she was not too young to learn the details of its design by touching it and perhaps sensorially discover relationships between the individual pieces.
Sometimes solutions are simple, but take forever to think of or stumble upon. In this case, I stumbled upon two in one classroom. I was very grateful.