Saturday, January 30, 2010

playing outside with maksing tape part 2

To the casual observor, the spider web created by three very determined four year olds at preschool yesterday may look like a bit of a free-for-all (or an accident waiting to happen).

But let me tell you, this endeavour took focus and dedication. The boys invested a great part of their day building their web out of tape, and they were pretty impressed with their own efforts.

They had a vision to create "the biggest spider web ever", and although the didn't know it they were learning a lot along the way.

Firstly their was the social learning. This web took a great deal of negotiation and co-operation: who would hold the tape? What direction would they go in next? Not to mention negotiating with their teachers to convince them to crack open another roll of tape or another spool of wool.

There was lots of communication amongst themselves, which involved not only being able to put forward their own ideas but to also listen to the ideas of others. There was communication (and literacy) with their peers when they decided they needed to make lots of signs saying "No breaking" which they stuck at intervals over their creation.

Given that one of the boys has challenges in social interaction, this was reason enough to just let them go for it.

There was problem solving; trial and error and experimentation as they overcame the obstacles in their path. How could they stop the tape sagging on the grass; what could hold the tape and what couldn't; what was the perfect height for the tape; what could they use when the tape ran out; what tape worked best - the thick or the thin tape; how could they stop the tape from tangling in on itself; what could they use to hold up the middle of the tape?

There was imagination: they were weaving a story about the spiderweb as they weaved their tape spiderweb and the story grew and changed just as the shape of their web grew and changed.

There was wonder and joy and pride in their achievements as they stood back and looked at all they had accomplished. "Its bigger than I thought'" exclaimed one.

We incorporated technology as they asked to take photos of the web, just in case it fell down over the weekend. They wanted to document their work "and we could put it in our journals!".

They were exploring concepts such as length and distance. How far would one roll of tape go? How many times could they go up and back to the fence? How far is it to the gazebo? How tall could they reach with the tape? Was their more wool on a spool or more tape on a spool?

And I have to wonder if it was also a way for these four year olds to reclaim their preschool after almost 7 weeks holiday. Was it a way of reestablishing ownership? Of marking out their own space? Was the amount of time spent on this project also in part a way of reconnecting with each other?

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg. So if you venture into a preschool classroom I urge you to look past what often appears to be a random mess or a corner of chaos and see the learning that lies behind it. You'd be surprised.

Playing outside with masking tape Part 1


  1. I love this, Jenny. Thanks for detailing the learning that takes place. We tend to get the classroom covered, then take it down each day and stick it to whatever "target" is available (e.g., a door, chicken wire, etc.) when we clean up. For whatever reason, the kids love taping the door shut, then cheer when adults break it by going through the door.

    I see the same kinds of social, engineering and creative learning you see. Tape play really does get kids working together.

  2. I love keeping up with the Tape-off posts! The spider web is an excellent idea. And you are so right - do "look past what often appears to be a random mess or a corner of chaos and see the learning that lies behind it." I am always amazed.