The natural beauty of the garden and playground offers many and varied opportunities for children to think, create, imagine and develop motor skills. The large trees in our school are losing some of their leaves for winter (we don’t really have autumn here in Qld.) The children began collecting these leaves and, using sticks, tried to thread them. Unsuccessfully. Next they tried using long grass but found it difficult to make holes/cuts in the leaves to thread the grass through. One of the children said “we need the hungry caterpillar.” and so………never one to miss an opportunity to enhance fine motor skills, that afternoon I quickly glued some pom poms, eyes and a pipe cleaner onto some hole punches and our Very Hungry Caterpillar Hole Punches were born!
I was a bit concerned about how well the pom poms would stay on but the children didn’t want to “squash” the caterpillar and so, by using just the end of the hole punch, their finger strength and control was really challenged to get the caterpillar to bite into the leaves.
The next day, the children were very engaged in “feeding the hungry caterpillars” outside, punching holes in all the leaves they could find. For awhile their focus was on seeing how many bites they could put in a leaf which meant lots of finger strengthening, counting and discussion about the size and shape of the leaves. They experimented with folding some of the softer leaves to see what would happen and talked about symmetry not just in the leaves, but with their bite holes as well.
Once their curiosity was satisfied the children selected the leaves they wanted to use for threading and set to work. It took a lot of eye-hand coordination and concentration to thread the long leaves and grass through the holes and their persistence was amazing.
This experience demonstrates the importance of allowing children to be free to explore their own ideas and for we the adults, to value, assist, and support them. The simple addition of the hole punches provided the children with the tools, and making them into caterpillars’ based upon a child’s idea, was a further provocation to enhancing their personal learning, fine motor, thinking and investigating skills in a real and valid way through their experimentation with leaf threading. This is how I love to teach, and tick the reporting boxes …………by using the children’s ideas and interests through a child negotiated curriculum.
Learning Statements –
Investigating the Natural World
Fine Motor Skills
Imagining and Responding