Mystery of the Missing Lids

This week I had the most excellent opportunity to observe in the Early 3s.  It was during open centers, and there was no shortage of action or engaged activity.  As I entered the room, two children were finishing up snack, one sat quietly working at the writing table, some were exploring natural objects near the teacher’s desk, and others were engaged in the  sensory bin on the light table or pushing play strollers around the room.  Eventually a small group sat down at the writing table to write or draw in their journals.  

The writing went on uneventfully until someone noticed all the marker lids were missing.  Instead of this becoming a negative experience, the supervising teacher brilliantly turned it into a mystery to be solved.  She engaged everyone at the table by asking around if any of the kids knew about the problem.  The investigation continued awhile, with no one coming forth regarding the whereabouts of the marker lids.  The teacher kept verbalizing possibilities, infusing curiosity into the situation. Finally a child (not the one who did the hiding) handed the teacher a plastic maple syrup container filled with the lids. Not long after that, a child did confess to having put them there.  This all happened quietly and matter-of-factly, with no sense of shaming or wrong doing attached to the event.  The teacher calmly returned the lids to the table and engaged the children in helping to match each one to its corresponding marker.  The mystery of the missing lids became a collaborative color matching opportunity.  

In addition to the marker situation, there was another moment of honoring children at the writing table.  One child quietly approached the table, and the teacher invited them to join in by asking, “Where’s your journal?”  The child went over to the basket where journals were kept.  They didn’t seem to find it, then walked back to the teacher empty handed.  Just a few minutes later I noticed that same child sitting at the table with a journal.  I asked how that happened.  The teacher replied that she asked another three-year-old to find it, which she did.  It was another example of a highly perceptive teacher transforming a challenge into a chance for two children to experience success.   

These are the small everyday moments of honoring children that can be overlooked under normal circumstances.  I was glad to have been present to witness the happenings at the writing table, and appreciative that our school is filled with teachers who approach their craft with such care and intention.  

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