At Today’s Family, we know that even the smallest, simplest things can be amazing learning opportunities.
It’s easy to forget that children, especially those in our Early Childhood Education programs, are still busy exploring the world. Something as simple as gluing cotton balls and feathers to a piece of paper can at first seem like an impossible and incredibly daunting task.
To put it another way, they say that for everything you know, there are 10,000 people in America who are hearing about it for the very first time. Instead of shaking your head and saying “I can’t believe these kids can’t glue anything,” we like to take the approach of celebrating our children for experiencing something for the very first time.
(Don’t worry, we’re still Canadian – it’s just that the saying is from a bit south.)
If you haven’t caught on yet, one of our toddler classrooms learned how to glue things the other day. Sorry, mom.
When you think about it, glue is a very weird thing. Spend any time around a very young child and you will realize that they are very aware of – and interested in exploring – gravity. Dropping toys, throwing bowls: as soon as The Thing leaves my hand, it Falls Down.
But glue stops things from falling. Why is that? How does it work?
What looks like it could be simple – “here, this is how you use glue” – can be used to teach children about gravity, and about being sticky.
The first step involved setting the stage properly: children learn best when left to their own devices and being free to explore the world around them. That’s why our Early Childhood Educators set out the activity centre – comprised of glue, paper, and craft supplies – numerous times over the course of two weeks, letting the children naturally come to the activity.
The second was teaching the children about what glue can do. By squirting just a little bit on fingers, our ECEs taught the toddlers about how glue was sticky through a new, tactile experience. The result? Learning that glue could hold their objects on the paper.
Using glue is what we call a “2-Step Instruction”. It means that you can’t get the intended result right away and that you have to plan and think about future actions and reactions. Again, this is a very simple concept for adults, but it’s a very new concept to many young children.
The first step was to spread the glue out across the paper, after children understood that glue was sticky. There was still an issue, though: there were no feathers glued to the paper.
Luckily, that’s where our previous lessons and experiments came in. The children recognized that glue was sticky, so they understood that the next step was to stick to objects on top of their glue puddle.
These two steps – spread glue and stick on object – were as easy and simple as you can get when teaching the 2-Step Instruction concept, but they still taught and implanted in all of those children a strategy they could use to understand their world.
And if you’re just learning about 2-Step Instruction, then congratulations; you are one of today’s Lucky 10,000!