Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Feedback from the Children

There is a happiness bubble in my chest today, thanks to the children in my son's kindergarden class. After thinking deeply about what would be a worthy end of the year teacher gift, my son asked for sets of Knees and Paws for the classroom. He wanted to make a new "center" at school. I had reservations.

Would my hand made gift be seen as self promoting? That was not my intention. There are many other avenues to get the word out.

Thankfully, I let my son decide and the teachers and students were delighted with the gift. The kids have been playing Knees and Paws every day since I brought them into school. I included a little word/picture matching game in the event that Knees and Paws by themselves are not "educational".

Since giving this gift, a surprising development has occurred. The children are using the picture cards which show images of pets, toys and a vet as prompts for their imaginary play. In a group of three or four, they choose cards. If a vet card is drawn, then that child plays the role of pet doctor. Elliot said that someone wanted to be a dog catcher, even though there wasn't a card for that.

In this way, the small groups have been sharing without conflict, taking turns based on the cards.

When the teacher asked who wanted to play Knees and Paws, nearly every hand in the room shot up. A few tough guys in the class sat with their arms crossed.

Later, I was surprised when the teacher assistant approached me to share how impressed she was with the game I had invented. I hadn't thought of Knees and Paws as a "game" really. But now I wonder if there is potential to develop one. The kids are making up the game. I love the way they decide on the rules and context of their play.

Before leaving the school after today's visit, several children thanked me for the "game" I had made. I'm keeping that bubble of joy that comes with a child's thanks with me on the trail.

I'll be home June 20th for those who have followed the story of my Appalachian Trail challenge. I look forward to seeing you then!

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