Lose the recipe
Often times teachers look at an idea they find online or in books as they would a recipe for baking a cake. Following the idea one step at a time. Following step one, step two, step three, and so forth, teachers feel they should not deviate from the recipe. But you need to understand that the outcome and process of the project should be based on the development of the children in your classroom.
Visualize what the children will actually do
As you plan to use an idea, ask yourself: "What will my children actually do?" If you are doing all of the cutting, tearing, arranging, folding, gluing, and so forth then what part of the process is left over for the children to actually do? Remember - it is in the doing that children begin to develop their skills, abilities, and confidence!
When I plan an activity I actually visualize my students taking part in the process. If there just doesn't seem like there will be enough for them to do then I change the idea up to make sure that the activity is something they can do all by themselves.
Over the past few weeks I have found a ton of amazing ideas for flowers. I just love them all so at my first opportunity, I brought some of those ideas with me and presented them to a group of young children. However, I modified those ideas to fit what I felt would be best for the ages and stages of this particular group of young children.
Since I would only have one opportunity with this group of children, I decided to let them use a variety of materials to make their flowers. I first had the children brainstorm with me what ways we could use the materials to make flowers. We decided to try the following....
Colorful paint, colorful paper towel squares with seeds, straws, tape, yarn, and one child wanted me use letters to spell the word "HA".
Then the children were given time to make their own flowers.
The children started by snipping the edges of green paper to make some grass.
The children added some glue - all by themselves!
Then the children flipped the grass over and glued it to their paper.
Then stems were cut out by the children and then they glued the stems to their paper.
Some of the children preferred long stems and others wanted short.
One little girl only wanted one really tall stem.
This little girls decided she only wanted to use paint to create her flowers.
Oh, and her white flower is actually just a glob of glue since we didn't have any white paint!
Product and Process
In the end, we had a beautiful set of flowers to display in the room but we also enjoyed the process. The children were able to make decisions, use a variety of materials, and do the work without my help. I did provide guidance at first so the children could visualize the process but once the process was started, it was time to encourage their own creativity and skills.
If I were to be teaching these children on a regular basis, I would probably not have put out every type of material and instead had them try a different type of flower each day. I say this to let you know that I took a combination of ideas and adjusted them (or in this case - combined them) to make them work for my situation.