Kodo Kids Happenings

Mad Scientists:)

As many of you know, over the last 3 years we have forged an amazing partnership with KodoKids, a local toy company that makes fantastic, open-ended, inspiring, scientific, and creative toys. They come by and test their ideas and we reap all the benefits in my opinion:) But in this video, what really blew me away, was not only the cool products, but also how intelligent, imaginative, and experimental our students are at the Acorn School. Take a few minutes to watch the video and I think you’ll see that The Acorn School and it’s use of The Creative Curriculum’s play-based learning style are producing some pretty amazing children!!

B is for Beg

and Blocks and Building.

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and Boarding.

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These are the most used toys on our playground. Every day the kids build something incredible with these blocks or just take a few and use their imagination in ways I would’ve never guessed like our friend pretending to snowboard above.

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or this friend pretending to have “hiking sticks”. (B is also for Boulder, CO. where we are always doing something active).

B IS FOR THIS BLOGGER BEGGING YOU TO ADD BLOCKS, BLOCKS, AND MORE BLOCKS TO YOUR OUTDOOR SPACES!

Mix it Up

Chris has been on fire lately with the new products. Really simple, aesthetically enticing, and super fun stuff. What I love most about these new products is that they get kids physically working and using their muscles to create.

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Here is a new mortar and wooden pestle that the kids went crazy for, mashing, dumping, mixing, and experimenting.

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Here’s the catch though. As a teacher, you need to let them mix stuff! We are an organized, sometimes anal bunch us teachers. We like our caps on the markers, our paint colors and playdough separated. I am a freak about listing the kids in alphabetical order.

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But they don’t learn anything unless they get to mix it all together and add more mud to it or change the color or dump more sand into it or pour more water. And then do it again. And then smash it all up with a big stick.

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Let them mix it up!

Ratios

The ratio between engaged children and good behavior = positive! Last week Kodo Chris brought in an awesome tube for us to experiment with….

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A kids dream….blowing fan at one end, clear tube that could be angled in all different directions, and a pile of styrofoam peanuts.

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We had a ball making a giant mess. Peanuts, scarves, leaves, you name it. It went in there.

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But while Chris was snapping away with the camera and experimenting with the kiddos, I was reveling in the fact that we had eleven 3 and 4 year olds in a 4′ x 5′ foot square area and not one incident of screaming, pushing, hitting, or claims of turn-taking unfairness.

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Do you notice how the more engaged they are, the less behavior issues you have? I try to remember that as I am thinking of activities or projects. If I spend my energy trying my best to keep their attention, and I mean REALLY keep their attention with something fun, I will spend proportionally less energy dealing with behavior issues.

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So we discovered that the fan needed a screen of some sort to keep whatever you’re blowing out of the motor, that you really can’t have too much material to stick in there, and that you can involve a multitude of children in this activity with no fear of anything but happiness and complete engagement. A perfect ratio.

Ask Santa

Chris and I have so many pictures from our last post that it makes me want to stress again how important it is to have enough materials for your kids to use. On our playground right now, we do NOT have a lot of different materials to use….BUT what we do have, we have TONS of. Look closely at these pictures and you’ll notice enough metal cans for filling and pouring, enough half pipes to make a super long water transporter, and enough wooden pieces to make extra-long tunnels.  All the kids that wanted to contribute to that construction were able to, no one had to fight or negotiate for a turn, and those spontaneous, amazing moments where everyone is completely engaged are absolutely priceless.

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So ask Santa for more stuff!!!

Less = More

Here at Acorn we have just moved into a brand new beautiful space thanks to a lot of hard work, fundraising, and an incredibly generous gift from the city of Boulder. Along with our new space, comes a playground that is literally an urban oasis. For teachers like me, who would teach outside all day if they could, it’s a dream come true.

So as we were moving toys over from the old school, we took the opportunity to really think about the use of equipment on the playground and what we wanted to see happening out there. The consensus was, that at least to start, we wanted to go minimal and then add if necessary.

But as we’ve been out there for almost 2 weeks, I am now fully embracing the less is more philosophy. We have a small stack of blocks, our kodokids equipment, a stash of musical instruments, a couple bikes, a few bats and balls, some pails and shovels for digging, and in a stroke of genius by our director, we buried sea glass in the sand that has become treasure to hunt for every day.

That’s it. That’s all we have. And you know what? It’s perfect.

In just 2 weeks, I have seen a change in the way the kids are playing, with the toys, with each other, and by themselves. I see more imaginative play, more big body play, like somersaults, rolling on the grass, and wrestling. I see games of tag, and hide-and-seek, balancing, jumping, and running. Not that those weren’t happening on the old playground, but there’s just more of it, for longer time periods.

So I challenge you and your staff to scale down and see what happens. Granted, it was easier for us to make this dramatic shift as we moved onto a stunning new space, and it may take time for your kids to adjust to less equipment, but I would be surprised if you didn’t start to see some more creativity, more gross motor activity, and even more calm behavior. It’s more old-fashioned play, for plays sake. Like when we were kids outside. And all with 80% less stuff.