A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Cultural Diversity’ Category

A Story of True Love and Humanity

A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it’s least fortunate amongst them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received the following story from a good friend of mine and thought I would share it with you.

Two Choices

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered
a question:

‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do.

He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued.

‘I believe that when a child like Shay,who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realise true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story: Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were
playing baseball. Shay asked,

‘Do you think they’ll let me play?’

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps..

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked
around for guidance and said, ‘We’re losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.’

Shay struggled over to the team’s bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt. I watched with a small
tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay’s team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn’t even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognising that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay’s life,
moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher. The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman’s head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, ‘Shay, run to first!

Run to first!’
Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base. He scampered down the baseline,wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, ‘Run to second, run to second!’

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball, the smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher’s intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman’s head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, ‘Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay.’

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by
turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, ‘Run to third! Shay, run to third!’

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, ‘Shay,
run home! Run home!’

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

‘That day’, said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, ‘the boys from both teams helped
bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world’.

Shay didn’t make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy,
and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

I don’t know the original source of this story,  but here is a little footnote to the story.

Many people send and share jokes via the internet without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate. Public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces but by sharing this story I believe we can all make a difference especially as early childhood educators.

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realise the ‘natural order of things’ and through the internet and in particular social networking sites we are presented with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the
world a little bit colder in the process?

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The Castle Wedding – Playing in Prep and the National Curriculum

Play is one of five contexts for learning in the Early Years Curriculum.

The others being –

Routines and Transitions

Real Life Experiences

Focussed Teaching and Learning

Investigations

Play can also be a pedagogy, a way of teaching that encourages learning through active participation.

So what does active participatory learning mean?

Anne Epstein from Highscope defines it as –

  • experiences based on the children’s interests
  • experiences that are hands on and linked to real life situations
  • children actively constructing their understandings
  • by making choices children are involved in problem solving and decision making both necessary skills for learning
  • adults acting as guides and facilitators of the learning
  • adults expand children’s thinking with diverse materials and nurturing interactions.

What does a play pedagogy look like in a prep classroom?

We have been involved in castle play for the last 3 week. What do you think this would look like?

My Classroom

 

How it all began…….. Some of the children constructed a castlein block area using the waffle blocks

 Some of the children decided they wanted to be kings and queens in the castle and made crowns.

To encourage thinking and problem solving the children are not given templates for these ideas (ie crown making) and need to work out how to make the crowns using prior knowledge and to seek help if they need it.

Through this philosophy of designing and creating what they need themselves, the children develop lots of  skills and understandings and view themselves as competant and capable. When making their crowns the children are enhancing measurement concepts and practicing lots of fine motor skills as well as using their imagination.

Several of the girls decided they wanted to get married in the castle. One of the girls made a wedding cake.

During Reflection Time, at the end of play time, the children said they were going to have a wedding. We brainstormed everything they knew about weddings.

The next day, wedding preparations began with the brides and grooms researching dress, suit and bow tie designs.

Research Learning Statements – Reading and Viewing, Writing and Shaping, Oral Language

 

Designs were drawn. Design Learning Statements – Imagining and Responding, Writing and Shaping

The brides also consulted with our Dress Designer who had compiled a book of suggested designs and accessories.

Consultation Learning Statements – Social and Personal Learning, Oral Language,  Thinking, Reading and Viewing

When the final design was decided upon, production of each dress began.

Production Learning Statements – Investigating Technology, Fine Motor Skills, Thinking

During production, fittings were needed.

Fitting Learning Statements – Early Maths Understandings, Thinking,  Oral Language

    Is it too big?

    Is it too small?

    Is it too long?

     Is it too short?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the brides wanted sleeves in her dress. This was a challenge for everyone and required lots of thinking and problem solving.

The design –

The Wedding Dress almost finished.

Some of the brides decided they wanted lace on their dresses and a new industry appeared in the classroom – lace making.

Lace Making Learning Statements – Imagining and Responding, Fine Motor skills, Thinking,  Social and Personal Learning

 

The designer and lace maker consulting on where the lace needs to be placed and if anymore is required.

 

One dress finished. It even has a designer label on it.

Only 5 more dresses to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst the brides were busy with their dresses, the grooms were also busy making their wedding attire.

 

  This groom is wearing his Knight helmet and shield. As well as his designer tie.

This groom asked his father for his favourite tie because he like sailing boats.

 

 Weddings fit into the Understanding Cultural Diversity learning statement of our curriculum. To enhance our knowledge of

 weddings we explored wedding customs from several other cultures including –

Chinese Weddings

      

 New Zealand Weddings –

      

 

and Indian Weddings

   

   

This exploration of weddings in other cultures inspired one of our brides to design a one shouldered red wedding dress.

This design needed to be altered because we didn’t have any red fabric to make the dress and the bride decided to have a white

 dress with red rubies instead.

 

 The bride and dress designer decided a row of square rubies were needed on the bodice of the dress.

 

For the skirt, the bride elected to scrunch the rubies up for a 3D effect.

and place them randomly around the skirt.

Knight Helmets were a popular choice of headwear for the grooms with this groom designing a special wedding knight helmet to

 wear to his wedding.

    “It is high like a wedding hat” he told me.

Here are some of our grooms/knights guarding the classroom door in the “regular” helmets and armour.

In another area of the classroom our florists had begun making the colourful paper for the flowers that will go into the wedding

 bouquets. They used their prior knowledge of making butterflies using paper towels and eye droppers to make the paper

and with the help of our teacher aide they used pipe cleaners to fold the paper into flowers (just like we had made our

 butterflies) and joined them together for the bouquets.

With the whole class enthusiastically preparing for the wedding, our castle builders discovered a problem.

The castle was too small to fit in all of the bridal parties and the wedding guests. What were we going to do? Could we still have the

 wedding? Does anyone have any ideas?

 

Tomorrow I will post the solution and the rest of the lecture. Linking this learning to the National Curriculum.