What is your favorite thing to do with a group of young children? What kinds of activities make you excited? What types of materials do you avoid?
Oh, come on. You know that you purposely avoid doing certain types of activities or avoid using certain types of materials. Me? I don’t like glitter. I will do just about anything other than use glitter.
It’s not the mess. I don’t mind mess. I’ll make sand and glue pictures or cut paper into little bits. We paint all the time. But something about glitter makes me almost hyperventilate. It doesn’t just make a mess – it is insidious, showing up months after we have last used it. I just don’t like using it.
I love blocks. We could have blocks as our major focus every week and I would be happy as I could be. I like to experiment, adding rope light or mirrors or straws with the blocks. I enjoy seeing all the different things that children can do with blocks. I like making patterns for kids to follow. Blocks are just about the best thing ever!
But not all kids enjoy blocks as much as I do. And I know there are some kids that enjoy sprinkling that glitter stuff on things.
I must be careful as I think and plan and prepare spaces for boys and girls. I cannot gauge activities or create learning experiences solely based on my preferences. I must think about the kids I teach and what they enjoy. I must look for ways to push the children’s boundaries…and my own. I must honor the likes and dislikes of the kids in my classroom.
1. It shows that I am listening to the children and respect them as individuals.
2. It communicates that the learning space belongs to all of us, not just to me.
3. It encourages exploration and learning because kids are able to use what they enjoy.
4. It creates satisfaction and fun to the learning.
Does that mean that we have lots of glitter in my classroom? No. But I do mix it into paint or find glitter crayons or glitter slime or other sparkly media to use. It means that children can choose to create something in the art center, build with blocks, play out scenes in dramatic play. Or they can choose not to do those things, too.
It means that my preferences and my agenda are subordinate to the ideas of my kids.
And, occasionally – rarely – a shaker of glitter will make its way into an area of my room. But I still don’t like it.