The dogs and I made our daily walk to check the mail today, and I was delighted to find a letter from one of my kindergarteners-to-be. The sweetly scrawled addresses and an off-kilter stamp made sure this treasure made its way from Jae to me.
Before I ever read the note from her mother, I knew this was a building plan. Toward the end of the year the students often drew at least their initial building plans. This stemmed from my frustration over the block area degenerating into sheer chaos, where not one block was on top of another…ever. One day I donned a hard hat and told the group I was the “building inspector”. In order to get their building permit (a construction paper ticket) they would need to show me their building plan and I directed them to some paper and pencils. The kids were incredibly thoughtful about this, and really considered the shape of the blocks, how they would balance or fit together to support other blocks, and would even return to the table to revise a plan. Upon completing their construction, we would compare the building to the drawing, noting any differences. Drawing or writing plans became an activity the kids extended to art activities and some dramatic play events, because rather than stealing the spontaneity of play, the plans served as a framework to build on and actually extended the play. Receiving this letter from Jae speaks volumes about the impact drawing plans has on promoting independence and problem solving skills, not to mention fine-motor, literacy, spatial recognition and a host of other early childhood benchmarks. We’ll definitely incorporate the planning process in our routines earlier this year.
In case you were wondering, the picture is for a sandcastle Jae wants to build on her family’s upcoming vacation to Florida. The note from her mom said Jae insisted on making a copy for use in Florida and sending the original to me. I am truly honored. I just wish I were there in the sand to watch her build this masterpiece!