This past month we pulled out our Spielgaben math manipulatives and I took the long dress up mirror off of the wall and placed it on the floor for some open ended exploration. Instead of offering the entire tray of shapes, I sorted the shapes ahead of time into three bowls: squares, triangles and diamonds, and circles. These loose parts lend themselves to exploration and creativity so easily!
D spent such a long time working with the materials on the mirror. First he organized all of the circles at one end of the mirror. The circles come in three sizes and they can fit inside of each other. Once he figured this out he then looked for smaller circles to fit inside of the larger circles.
At the other end of the mirror I made a simple flower using the diamonds and a stick from the other boxes. D was inspired by my flower and started to make new creations apart from the circles. You can see from the photo his lines extending similar to a flower but then off of the edges. The children were fascinated with the whole idea of the mirror on the floor. They spent a great deal of time studying their reflections and the looking at the lights on the ceiling that appeared in the mirror. I spent most of my time observing and guiding the students with the materials.
In another area I put a piece of Styrofoam out with dowel rods pushed into it. I saw this idea from the blog Twodaloo. The kids found this a little tricky, because if they loaded up one of the dowel rods it would immediately tip over. It was a lesson in balance, weight, and fine motor skills.
Then I changed the activity slightly and put the bowls on our tables, along with smaller mirrors that gave each child a defined area to work with. I started by only offering them the three bowls with the pre-sorted shapes. It didn’t take long before they were requesting the other parts of the Spielgaben set! I found myself digging the other two trays out of the closet. There is something very appealing about the sticks that are all different lengths that the children love.
Recently I posted about L and the amazing road scene he created with the Spielgaben set. In his most recent encounter with the materials he combined the smaller shapes with the larger unit blocks that I have in the classroom. The picture below shows a train that he made from the combination of the two materials!!
I must constantly remind myself that we shouldn’t limit them with their ideas or expectations for play. I catch myself saying or thinking “We are using this right now, not that” or “These pieces are for this area only.” Sometimes we can limit their learning and play by not allowing them control of their interactions. L is a perfect example of this!
I can’t wait to get these materials out again! Each time we use them surprising things happen!