Sunday, December 6, 2015

If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
~ Thomas Edison

Challenging young children to try new things and go beyond what they think they can do is sometimes tricky business. As a teacher, I have to walk a fine line: do I help or not help? Do I extend help when my offer is rejected? How much frustration can a child handle to get to the success on the other side without a melt down? 

We had lots of those scenarios in class this week, starting with a cutting activity. I have a just-turned-3-year-old (youngest child in the class) who just could not get hand-eye coordination together to cut ON a designated line. I have highlighted and darkened lines, modified projects, and tried all the different types of scissors we have. Still, she manages to snip her way into, or directly through whatever shape she is supposed to be cutting out. She refused to let me do hand over hand assistance, so I finally pulled out my own "teacher" scissors, and showed her how to "stretch and squeeze" with maximum control but making a "C" shape with my hand and then closing it into an "O" shape with scissors secured more toward finger tips than palms. She practiced a few times without the scissors, then when she picked up the paper and scissors and cut EXACTLY ON THE LINE, Oh, man...Her expression was priceless! She was shocked and excited, and proud of herself all at the same time! 

The next challenge came on "Airplane Day" in the MGT curriculum. (because of holidays and field trips, we are still in the midst of the "On The Go" theme, which is the November box) The kids made paper airplanes, launched by blowing into a straw. I had several younger ones that had difficulty understanding why their plane wouldn't fly, as they blow, and blow, and BLOW, while still holding on to the airplane instead of the straw. It was rather comical to watch. But despite their frustration, they did NOT want me to interfere with my "help". So I let them blow and blow some more, until I asked if I could hold the airplane/straw and showed them where to put their fingers so the plane would take off. FINALLY!! I mean, I am the teacher, I do occasionally have helpful things to say... 

A little friendly Brother vs. Sister race
I'll blow, and I'll blow, and I'll blow, and FINALLY I'll make the plane fly!
No trouble taking flight here

There was a special science project on "Hot Air Balloon Day". The MGT science cards are simple and easy to follow. Sometimes I have to make "Japan" adjustments, based on materials I have on hand. I had actually done an experiment with the same premise in the upstairs kindergarten class last week, using baking soda and vinegar so I thought I'd just do the same thing. 

1st attempt: FAIL. The balloon got a hole it as soon as I put it over the top of the bottle. I had to grab an administrator from the hallway to come watch the class so I could run upstairs and find more balloons.

2nd attempt: FAIL. I only had about 1/2 cup of vinegar left from the kindergarten experiment, so even though we put several teaspoons of baking soda in, it didn't create enough gas to fill up the balloon.  

At this point the class was disappointed, but still not entirely sure what they were supposed to be anticipating. It was nearing the end of class, and I happened to have an extended break that day, so I promised to go to the store on my lunch break, while they were having Japanese class, and buy more vinegar to try the experiment again. 

3rd attempt: SUCCESS. This time we filled the plastic bottle up half way with vinegar, and used a little less baking soda, along with a fresh balloon. When it started bubbling and fizzing the kids thought it was going to explode and started to duck under the table. I assured them that the balloon would not pop, just to keep watching! As the balloon got bigger and bigger, so did their eyes! When it stopped expanding everyone broke out in applause. BEST EXPERIMENT EVER!! (until the next one...hehe)

Intrigued, or's hard to tell.

Hooray!! It worked!!

So, in addition to airplanes and hot air balloons, we're also learning it's OK when things don't go as planned, if they don't work the way they should the first time. The important thing to remember is to TRY, TRY AGAIN! 

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