Raise your hand if you’ve ever played with a young child before. (By “young child” we mean somewhere between the ages of 4 and 6.)
Okay, how about five children? Ten?
Spend enough time around children, and you’ll discover that they can be exhausting. Utterly, completely, exhausting. And in that exhausted state of mind, you might be tempted to label this gaggle of children as “chaotic.”
But they’re not really being chaotic, are they? Maybe a better word is “exploring.”
Humans are naturally curious. When we get put into a new environment, we want to know as much about it as possible. It’s just that when you’re a child, everything is new! And, so, the initial inclination is to explore: touch everything, run around, find out ‘more faster!’ What can seem like random chaos can be seen, with a bit of practice, as curiosity run rampant.
The greatest ‘trick’ an Early Childhood Educator can learn is how to direct that explorative impulse, to turn what is already a learning experience into a learning experience. Here’s one example that we’re very happy to share.
When you go get a cavity filled at the dentist, what’s the first thing you do? You feel it with your tongue. When you get your ears pierced, you play with the stud. When you get a haircut, you run your hands through your hair (or, you really really want to, but you also really really don’t want to mess it up).
When our bodies change, we naturally try to figure them out. We explore the change. But what does any of this have to do with Early Childhood Education?
Well, when you’re five years old, you’re still figuring out how your body works. How fast you can run, how nimble and dextrous your fingers are. And that’s where the yarn comes in.
We like to give all that creative, discovering energy a focus. Last week, that focus happened to be a big ball of yarn.
Kids love yarn – it’s colourful, it feels nice, and most importantly, it can make a huge mess.
But you can also use yarn to play games, and we strongly believe that games are valuable learning experiences.
Maybe you unspool the yarn in a path around your room. Suddenly, you’ve created a magical, protected path over a giant pit of lava!
Maybe you tangle a group of kids together (not too tangled, though!) and have them work together to untangle themselves.
The best part is that you’re not just playing a game – the children are learning fine motor control, using their imagination, and developing interpersonal, cooperative skills. All of this, from a ball of yarn!
Yarn is even easy to clean up! And, dare we say, fun! Even after playtime has ended, getting a bunch of little helpers to clean up helps them learn responsibility for their own messes. Do you have any cool uses for yarn? Let us know! We love to hear from you.