Exploring Common Interests on the Preschool Playground

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At Toddler’s Workshop, we believe the activities presented to the children should be determined based on the children’s own interests. Because of this, the topics typically vary from classroom to classroom. Once in a while, however, the interests of the children seem to overlap between classrooms. Sometimes these common topics are provoked by the season. Topics like apples, pumpkins, and leaves are all prominent topics of conversation and exploration found during Autumn. Sometimes a topic of interest in one classroom sparks a similar topic of interest in another. Children viewing documentation in the hallways or walking through another classroom with a teacher are able to view materials, pictures, or books that strike a chord in them. Sometimes, however, these common interests are merely coincidental. A common material presented to two separate classrooms (often in very different ways or for different reasons) can become a shared topic of interest between these rooms. While providing each classroom with these interest based curriculum topics might seem to isolate each classroom’s learning, these moments of common interest allow us to collaborate with other classrooms, build a sense of community between them, and expand the children’s learning in both classrooms even further.

Recently, two of our preschool classrooms found an opportunity to provide this collaboration regarding a mutual topic of interest – yarn. The two classroom’s interest in yarn began independent of each other. In our Preschool Rainbow Room, the teachers offered yarn up as an opportunity to practice fine motor skills. they presented the children with a sensory table full of materials such as yarn and fabric and placed scissors among the materials in the table. Then they let the children explore.

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Many of the children became very involved in the sensory table project and the materials stayed in the table for several days. Some of the children even expanded this activity and began cutting yarn for independent projects outside of the sensory table.

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Meanwhile, in our Preschool Blue Room the teacher placed some balled up yarn, displayed on circle mirrors, on the rug in the block center for her children to discover and explore. Next to the yarn, she placed a few pairs of scissors on a tray. The children were given no instructions or ideas. Her intention behind this was to provide the children with a new material to explore. She was also interested in providing opportunities to work on scissor skills and fine motor. Just like in the Rainbow Room, the material was intentional but the project was left completely up to the creativity of the children.

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This activity became a huge hit. Several children worked with the yarn in a variety of ways. They threw the balls and watched how it unraveled, wound it around items, and used the scissors to cut pieces off the yarn ball. They also began using yarn to create spider webs.

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When it was time for Blue Room to head outside, some of the children asked if they could bring the yarn with them. The teacher agreed and they gathered all their yarn up into a basket to bring it to the preschool playground. Shortly after Preschool Blue began to explore their basket of yarn outside, Rainbow Room joined them on the playground. The same children that were exploring the yarn in the sensory table in Rainbow Room began to join in with the children of Blue Room. Together, they wound and tied the yarn all around the playground equipment. Many of the children from both classrooms referred to the yarn creation as a spider web, while some chose to explore it without any label. Either way, the children were able to work together on this common interest in a way that was new to all of them. They expanded their experiences with yarn, not only to an outdoor setting, but also to include the knowledge and ideas of another group of children.

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