Saturday, December 6, 2014

Projections of Ourselves: A Preschool Out-of-Body Experience

The other day I took out a projector for the first time with the children. I was using it to show them photos of Iceland. 

They were more interested in making their shadows on the wall. Obviously.

I decided to turn my laptop's camera on and point it towards them. It was very exciting for the children to see themselves on the wall.  

A couple days later it was too cold and windy to go outside so we decided to do some dancing instead. This group has not been especially interested in dancing and I decided to connect the projector again to see if watching themselves would make it more interesting. This was a different group and they were very excited to see the "TV," since we don't have one at preschool.

I am not sure that it actually increased their interest in dancing, but it was certainly an interesting learning experience for them and myself. 

It was fascinating to see who watched themselves, who watched others, and who still looked over towards the radio where the music was coming from. 

During the beginning of our dance party, I decided to hit record on the laptop camera to show it to them later. I have watched it so many times. I watched it once for each child to watch what they were doing. I love some wanted to see their whole bodies move and others just wanted to peak or twirl their hair. They were all trying out different ways to observe themselves.

Without really knowing why, in the middle of the song I decided to stop it and hit play. 

I wish I had a video of their faces when suddenly the same song was playing and they were still on the screen, but the images were not following their movements.  They all looked liked they were having an out-of-body experience. 

Some of them just stood there and stared and others tried to imitate what their "other self" was doing on the screen. They kept looking at the screen and then down at their own bodies with amazement and confusion.

Finally a four year old said:

"But who is controlling us?"  

I didn't answer...

"Wait it's doing what we WANT to do..."

"It's doing what we WERE doing..." 

When it stopped they asked me to show it to them again...and again.  They loved narrating what they were doing. They remembered the actions from the first time they had done them. It really encouraged a lot of language and conversation between them.

Then they moved on to costumes.

I can't wait to see what happens the next time we use the projector. There are so many learning experiences that can come from it: science, movement, technology, sensory, creative arts, social-emotional and so much more.

  The most obvious thing I have noticed so far is a huge increase in language and conversation between them. What 2-5 year old doesn't love talking about themselves? :) 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Play Iceland 2014: Simplicity

This is my second post following my adventure to Play Iceland 2014. My first post can be found here.

Two of the days in Iceland were spent visiting "playschools." The schools were much different than most that we have in the US. The buildings I visited looked similar to a miniature elementary school. They had about eight classrooms with children ages two to six years old. Both schools that I visited were incorporating inspiration from Reggio Emilia schools of Italy.

The major thing that I noticed right away was the simplicity of  the materials in the classroom. Actually what I noticed was the lack of things. The classrooms seemed bare.

Later when I had a chance to reflect on my photos, I realized that the "things" that really caught my eye were mostly re-purposed and simple. 

Almost every room had some sort of beautiful chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Some were made from natural materials and others were created from "Beautiful Stuff."

Leikskólinn Aðalþing 

This playschool had a lot of building materials that were made from recycled stuff. The room that stands out in my mind the most had lots of boxes and tubes for the children to build with. The young group that was playing in this room was enjoying building towers (taller than themselves) and knocking them down. There were photos on the shelves to help the children organize the materials back into their places.

Leikskólinn Stekkjarás 

This playschool had a room that was based on the idea of Reggio Emilia's Remida. A whole room full of organized collections of things to create from and learn with. This was a room that teachers could use for gathering resources, but also children could visit to collect things they need for artwork and projects. There were bicycle wheels, fabric, jars, cardboard, wood, broken electronics, and so much more. I would like to have been left alone in that room for hours.

Remida Inspired Room

Lesley from Takoma Park was part of Play Iceland 2013 and wrote about her experience with materials. Materials #playiceland