One of the hardest things this school year has been communicating with parents. That all important face-to-face greeting and conversation, every day at drop-off and pick-up, is limited to distancing in the school lobby while wearing masks. We Zoom, write a lengthy daily note, and a few times a month write a more in-depth email about what is happening in the classroom. Here is the latest, which includes a fabulous TED talks:
In the fall, when your children came together as friends and began to play in earnest, we wrote to you about the importance of play. The video we captured of your children playing Ring Around the Rosie, and falling down together while holding hands, was a perfect example. Now that the school year is half over, it’s time to take play a step further. Play is the primary foundation for learning, therefore how we play and what we play is incredibly important.
Here is an example of our play this week:
We have started to learn about robots. Children enjoy watching a robot video from time to time that was created by Boston Dynamics. It was perfect to to watch again and begin to really talk about robots. We collected as many recyclables as we could find at school, and we built our own life-size robot. This was both difficult and fun, as we had to design something that actually worked to stay together. Size and shape mattered. So did smaller elements like antenna and face parts. Would it stand? Of course we had to give the robot a name after all that hard work. Meet Atlas, who incidentally has the the same name as one of the Boston Dynamics’ robots.
Next, we wrote a class story about the robot, put the children’s words onto big chart paper, and added illustrations. Here is the story:
“It happened like this. There was once a robot named Atlas who was hungry. He had to go home and eat pancakes. He ate 100! He had a tummy ache, so he drank water. He went to find the doctor to get better. Then, he went to make rainbows. When we grow up we can build robots like Atlas.”
These group activities are important. But, what about individual activities? We not only guide play, we scaffold learning, adding new challenges as children grow and develop. We also help children navigate the all-important waters of social and emotional development, being there to help them problem solve and build friendships.
We connect with children. We talk with children. We play with children. We provide a healthy classroom. We are a community, the Aqua Room family.
These five elements build the brain and give children skills for life. You can do this at home! When you connect with your child, really playing and talking (and reading aloud), it is a magic wand, a golden key to, well, life. It’s how every child can thrive by age five.
Here is seven-year-old Molly Wright on a TED talk explaining how important this is, and how it works. Yes, a game of peek-a-boo can change the world.
P.S. I’m mailing the robot story to Boston Dynamics!