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It is often challenged that Play = Learning.  So it came over me this evening (well actually many evenings ago, as I found this draft hidden in my folder and thought this should be published!) that I have learned so much just from listening, observing, and facilitating play and constructivist experiences with the children.  Now, I am not talking about what I have learned about teaching or how I have grown as a teacher or professional.  By Golly!  I have but that is a whole different story.  I mean how I have grown as a human and what I have learned about the world from the eyes and perspective of the children.  It only seems fair to share these moments because the nitty gritty truth is if these are the things I have collected from this year, I can only imagine that they walked away with 10 fold.

What I now know for sure:

  1. If you have tried all avenues of telling a friend that they are scaring you just tell them “get out of town”.  They will be so shocked that they will freeze and walk away or at least stop and listen to what you have to say.  Plus, if you offer a peace offering like, “Well – you could stay if you don’t eat us” most monsters will oblige with not eating or scaring you.
  2. Crayons are made of wax and “wax is like the things you put in your ears to stop the sound”.
  3. “The longer the tail is (on a kite) the better the kite is.  I guess it just picks up and pushes it to go.”
  4. Crayons are too fat for stencils.  If you need to trace something and you only have a crayon use a pipe cleaner to press along the edges of the stencil and create the outline with the shape of the pipe cleaner.
  5. If you make a mistake just flip the paper over and try again.
  6. All humans have families.  “We are humans and I am her brother and she is my sister because all people have a brother or sister so they don’t get lonely when they play, that’s why”.
  7. That you are only a monster if you want to be and if your spikes are in, just take your spikes out if you don’t want to be a monster and you want to be human again.
  8. If you want to hold a new pet or nature creature simply ask, “Can I say hello to him?”
  9. All living things need water because they get thirsty and leaves make good bowls.
  10. When making lemonade the hard work of juicing lemons is easier if you take turns with other playmates and if you sing “twist and turn” repeatedly, until the juice is all out.
  11. Snails are slimy.
  12. (Roaches are) He is brave for letting us hold him (them). (… and you thought it was vice versa).
  13. Gravity is what makes things go down.  Like when honey falls to the bottom of a lemonade jar. (Yes, they used the word gravity.  No I did not tell them what gravity was in a lesson.  Yes I let them talk and share their own ideas, yes and no questions get yes and no answers.  Listening gets you things like “gravity” to enter conversations.)
  14. What I now know about trees is “that they help people breathe by making air from the pollen that falls from the tree”.
  15. That if you want to learn your letters it is ok to trace them except for Os.  Os are for studying.  “If you are working on your Os you are studying them.  I am working on my Os.  I am studying them.  I like to trace my other letters but O is easy if you are studying it.  You just go around and around and around like a circle”.
  16. Wool smells good and it is soft and enjoyable to braid but wrapping treasures with wool or wire is hard.
  17. When you mix blue and red it “almost looks black”.
  18. Shaving cream: makes great “vanilla sundaes”, “smells like soap”, “turns white (even after it has colors mixed in), gets thin “because of the (cake) pipers”, is good for hiding treasures in, is “soft”, and can be put on your face – but “only crazy kids do that”.
  19. If you need a friend, ask: “How can I help you play today?”.
  20. If you like a project that a playmate creates you can say, “An invention, I’m impressed”.
  21. Racetracks are “delicate”.
  22. “All the good things turn pink”.
  23. It is a good feeling when someone includes your opinion.  It is ok to say “Yes!  You remember my idea!”.
  24. You can “unfreeze it with hot water (frozen play-dough) but it will get gooshy when the ice starts breaking”.
  25. A good friend “smells like cupcakes and cookies”.
  26. Chances are if you see a big rock  and trip over it, it is because it was a pebble and “maybe something knocked it over and it grew”.
  27. If you introduce yourself to a friend you should say, “I am (insert name).  I am from a home”.
  28. If you have a pain in your arm it is probably because you miss your pet at home, “my arm is killing me because it wants to pet her, it just misses her so much.”
  29. “Slow down” … I am always a better person and teacher when I listen to the children when they say slow down. The best moments happen when time is given. I am really good at being present in the moment but sometimes I forget to slow down and give the moment time to be born. So the best thing they have ever said to me is to ssssssssssssllllllllllllllllllooooooooowwwwwwwwwww ddddddddddooooooowwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnnn …

In honor of 2015 coming and going … there are many more things to learn this year as 2016 begins. May I recommend approaching the world with the eyes and spirit of a child.

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