Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All Because of a Pizza Plate...

Two boys in our class who frequently learn together were at play dough making pizza. The only materials provided at play dough was a rolling pin and play dough itself. I asked if the boys wanted plates for their pizza and their excitement filled the room! One boy then began to list a few more things we needed. “We need an oven Mrs. Andrade!”

At first, I told him we didn’t really have an oven we could use, and that we would have to make one....but he responded “no, we have the one from drama!” So, this is where a learning point happened and I am not sure if the magic following would have happened if it weren’t for my decision in this moment. I let go, and said ok!

I brought over the oven from drama, and placed it beside play dough. “We need a roaster thing” the child added. To me, a roasting thing could be the pan, but first I checked with him... “like the thing you pop the pizza with!” So I provided him with spatula also.

While the boys began to cook their pizza, one child was the clear leader but forgetting to take turns with the other boy. I gave him a gentle reminder that they needed to share and he responded to the child “how about we both do it!” The boys waited for their pizza to be ready, turned the nozzles on the oven and made the sound of a timer going off!

“It’s getting hotter!” said one child as he turned the nozzle up. This time, as they took it out the child leading the play was able to take turns; he asked the other child to set the pizza on the plate, then explained that only the plate needs to go on the table not the pizza pan. At this point I wanted to jump out of my seat and shout I was so excited, to see the lead child involving the other child and taking turns a lot more when moments ago he struggled to take turns.

As their play continued, children began to flock like it was a real pizza shop! Two children came to visit and sat down waiting for their pizza. We have photographs of numbers one to ten that the children previously made out of play dough on our wall, and as the two children sat waiting for their pizza they became very eager to taste the pizza! One child pointed to the number eight, “not yet, it takes eight minutes to cook it!” As they waited patiently I asked one of the children who was waiting how much time was left until he got to taste the pizza, “only three minutes” he said as he pointed to the number three.

Giving these boys play dough, a plate, an oven, and a spatula truly brought their imagination to life. What also brought this to life was their feeling of empowerment; I listened to their idea and provided them with the materials, even if I was apprehensive about providing the oven from drama.
Because I let go and listened to the children and because I truly believe in the power of play – these children were able to strengthen their interpersonal skills and demonstrate their strengths in language and numeracy in an authentic context.


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