It was a Friday afternoon with class three and the children were very excited. We had planned an activity on play, which was “adult directed” (Study topic 13, p.5) where the children were given many different materials with which they could build a model that had to do with water that was their present unit of inquiry. We often plan classes like this on Friday afternoons because the children seem to have difficulties concentrating at the end of the week. The materials we gave them ranged from Lego and wood blocks, to construction paper and felt tipped pens. The class was divided into boys and girls, and they were left alone to build whatever they wanted on two large tables at the back of the class. The students had two forty-minute periods to work on it while we took photos, gave a little guidance, and answered questions. We observed how the children interacted and constructed with a common goal. They were for the most part left alone to have the feeling that they were playing in a self-directed way (Study topic 13, p.28). The class started to construct as soon as they got back from the afternoon break with little instruction as we had informed them about how the afternoon would be first thing in the morning.
I noticed one child was constructing something away from the rest of the group. I asked him why he was not at the big tables constructing with the others. He informed me he wanted to work with the rest of the boys, but that one of the boys takes too much control and he did not like working with him. I accompanied him to present his water tower to the rest of the boys, who thought it was a great idea and they decided together where to put it. We do step in from time to time to structure play to promote cooperation, communication, friendships, creativity, discovery and expressing of feelings and ideas (Study topic 13, p.12). With this one small action we managed to change the whole direction of play. The volume in the class got to a point where we felt it was a little loud and we had to clap our hands to get their attention and then ask them to speak quietly or we would have to stop the exercise. It is important for the students and all part of learning to know the limits of how they can act in school. The students still spoke, but from then on at an acceptable level. After about half and hour we stopped the students for a couple of minutes to reflect on progress and keep up the momentum. The girls explained how they were making a water spa and they all seemed to be happy with their progress and direction. The boys could not decide on what they were building and were very unorganized. We asked them to try and choose together what they were building, (Study topic 13, p.13) but we did not want to ruin their play. They decided it was a zoo with a water park. From that point on the students played without any interaction from us.
When they were done we talked about the...