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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Overcoming frustration through the creative process

On occasion, my daughter invites several young families to my house for a life group meeting. The families bring their children and when I think about it, I try to provide an activity for the preschool age children to do. 

On this particular evening, only two young boys came. Having seen all the wonderful ideas on tape creativity by Teacher Tom and others, I decided to try it myself. I set out several rolls of colored tape, some paper, and some crayons on the dining room table. I left the paper and tape there to see if the boys would notice it - kind of like setting up an interest center.

Eventually the boys wondered in the room and inqured about the tape and paper. I didn't give any specific directions, I just helped the boys pull out a strip of tape and they began to stick the tape to the paper. 

The younger of the two brothers became immediately frustrated because his tape got all tangled and he wanted to quit. I said, "let's try again only this time, you pull on the end of the tape." He pulled on the end of the tape and then looked up at me. He then pulled a little more and looked at me again...  then a little more... and a little more... then he said "I'm finished."  I tore the end off and he worked to get the tape stuck to the paper but once again, it got rather tangled.

This time, however, instead of getting frustrated, he quickly asked for another color of tape. Again, I held the end, and he pulled... and pulled.  Then he discovered that if he stood still and I walked backwards, he could even get a longer strip of tape. He directed me around the room and then would eventually say "stop." After a few times of this, he decided that he rather have shorter pieces of tape so he could stick them to his paper.

Meanwhile, the older brother caught on quickly. I started to show the older brother how to tear the tape with his fingers but he found out that if he pulled really hard, the tape would snap apart. He wasn't interested in hearing about my two finger tearing tape apart technique:) Both of the boys discovered something about the process that interested them and both of them were engaged in the process.

I want to make sure that everyone understands the key point here. It wasn't making the picture that was fun at first. What made this activity fun was manipulating the tape. Once the boys figured out how to manipulate the tape, then they began to have an interest in creating their picture.

The younger brother no longer became frustrated with the project once he was given freedom to just explore the tape. Now it was a fun idea and in the process he began to learn how to manipulate the tape. The younger brother went from giving up to being engaged - from having a lack of tape handling skills to being quite proficient - all in a matter of 20 to 30 minutes of time.

As we manipulated and created with tape, the parents came upstairs that they got involved too. In the end, both brothers made a wonderful tape picture and gave it to their dad as a present.

I enjoyed the process too. I learned that I don't need to teach kids how to create. Instead - I just need to facilitate the opportunity and then take note of what types of learning are taking place as the process unfolds.


View more on what kids learn from experiences with tape....  

International Early Childhood Education Tape-off Challenge

Casa Maria

Bakers and Astronauts 

Leaves and Branches, and Trunks and Roots


Teacher Tom said...

Ha ha haa! This all sounds so familiar! I love how they keep stopping at first, expecting an adult to tell them something like, "That's enough tape."

I have to say, you're very brave to do it in your own home! I'm not sure I'd have the courage to do that. =)

VKT said...

What a neat blog! I have been teaching kindergarten for 34 years and you make me feel so old looking at your pictures.

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Tom - I am not brave but with only two children - I figured I would give it a shot.

VKT - now why do these pictures make you feel so old? Experienced perhaps, but not old:)

Sherri said...

I really love this idea! I want to do it with my little ones and see what happens. I have never seen different colored tape...I guess I better go find myself some!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Sheri - I bought this tape at our local school supply store.

Noah said...

HA! I love all the tape-talk that's flying through some of the early learning blogs!
I'm getting psyched up myself to try some taping in the classes I'm in. I love how using tape is like breaking the rules a bit! We and the kids need that, I think. Just a little, every once in a while...
I love tape, and your blog is great. It's such a resource. Thanks so much Deborah!
PS - what's a life group meeting?

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Hi Noah,
Well your question is really one for my daughter but it is essentially a group of young families who get together to eat, hang out, and spend a little time in Bible study or Christian fellowship. They rotate homes to meet in and I think they all attend the same church here in Indy. They have met at our house on several occasions and are a really great group of young people (ages 2o something and up!).

Centenial College said...

It is really wonderful to come out of the frustration!Especially children will come out of frustration without their knowledge.

jenny said...

Ah Deborah - you've been sucked in by the allure of tape!

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Haha Jenny - for sure, I have!

Launa Hall said...

I loved many things about this post, but it really struck me that this creative endeavor, including the facing and overcoming of frustration, were all taking place in your beautifully appointed dining room. What a lovely message you were sending these boys--that their creativity was valued enough to take place there, and that you trusted them. Awesome!

Kim said...

My son LOVES masking tape! We play with it all of the time. I have actually come up with a way to make it less frustrating for him to create independently. He prefers to do it without Mommy hovering, and I do too. I will have my little trick up on Tuesday.

Ginger Snaps said...

Very cute idea! I am such an artsy fartsy person. I'll have to file this one away from a rainy day. =)

Deborah (Teach Preschool) said...

Launa - Thank you for your really sweet comment! I host art in my dining room all the time - in fact, I have a few little nicks and scratches on the table that I treasure:)

Kim - I will be sure to tune in - you have me very curious now!

Ginger - Love artsy fartsy people!!

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