Today was day two of Kat Camp. I taught the same lesson to a mostly new group of kids- my sons had to hear the same lesson twice. I wondered if they would be bored by this repetition, but they actually seemed more engaged the second time- perhaps because they knew the content? Maybe they just knew they were going to get to play with friends for two hours.
I felt more confident today, and I think it showed. I’m sure with each session I will learn more and feel a little more at ease. We again had a tear-free class, despite a large age range- not quite two years old, up to six. I was again amazed by the two year olds. I had originally said the class was for three and four year olds. One mother asked me if her child could try it, and if there was an issue, she would pick her up. The girl is potty trained and would have her brother in class as well, so I agreed to give it a go. That little girl was the last one to stop painting today. She followed directions like a champ, and held her own as the sole girl in the class.
The six boys took to each other pretty quickly. While waiting for children to arrive, I let the kids play freely. I take the same approach in between activities, as I clean up from one craft and prepare for the next. In most instances, this free time evolves into a game of chase. The boys were racing through the house, pretending to be motorcycle drivers, or racecars, or just simply runners. They fell so easily into playing with one another that I made a mistake- I didn’t actually introduce any of them.
At lunch, my son Liam described a couple of boys by the colors of their shirts, despite playing with them all morning. Another mom said her son had a similar story for her as they were driving home. I was so busy organizing activities and making sure to cover the material in my lesson plan that I forgot these kids are too young to shake hands, say their names, and inquire what they do for a living. Going to have to remedy that situation next week.
In both sessions, we made moon paintings using cotton balls, homemade puffy paint, beads and sand. In the first session, I briefly modeled how to dip the cotton balls in the paint to create a 3-D moon. I didn’t model extensively because I wanted the children to be free to explore the materials as they wished. I was also nervous, and felt like thoughts were roaming in a thousand directions.
Today, I was more focused and tried a slightly different approach. I sat down at the tables with the kids, and modeled the technique a couple of times, and then stood up to give them space to work. The children in the second group seemed to have a longer attention span for the activity, I believe because they had a more thorough understanding of what they could do with the materials. They still used them in their own ways, but they worked with them longer. The first group grasped a bit more on to the texture of the materials- they wanted to squish paint, and see what happened when you tore cotton balls apart. Group one seemed more experimental, group two seemed more interested. I found that distinction interesting. I’d love to figure out a way to combine the experimentation with the attention span.
I was happy to see that I seemed to have found remedies for the two concerns for my first session. Today, I learned how to pace myself more. Instead of flying through the material, I took pauses. As I mentioned, I let the kids play freely as I set up between activities. On Tuesday, as soon as I was done with set up, we started into the next activity. Today, I allowed myself to take a few minutes to interact with them in their play, or just to breathe. I am also happy to report the water beads were much better contained in the empty sandbox. Which just goes to show the importance of adequate space as well as preparation.
I felt more of a rhythm today, and I hope that continues. This week, I had novelty on my side. Next week, the kids will have expectations. Let’s hope my no-tears streak continues!