A group of boys has been very interested in constructing beyblades. It started with them spinning letter blocks on one of their corners. Yes, I was hoping the letter blocks would encourage them to read the letters and maybe make some words, but they were much more interested in spinning them. One of the things I’ve learned from the Reggio approach and about the inquiry process is to question my initial reactions, to honour the things that interest the children, to be patient, and to understand that we sometimes have to step out of our comfort zones. So, rather than ask them to stop, I looked at the situation as an opportunity for this group to engage in some science and math explorations while developing some literacy skills. I encouraged the boys to make their own beyblade so they went over to the studio and many of them decided to make them out of cardboard. They soon found that their creations were not very sturdy and did not spin for long. A few days later, they moved on to using the linking cubes and there was no turning back. I asked why the cubes were better.
“Because this thingy can spin on it.”
“You have to try and balance the beyblade with the pointy part so it doesn’t fall.”
The play soon became about smashing their blades into one another and it was clear that it was time to gently guide the play and to add a provocation that might take the learning to a different level. I decided to lay out different surfaces and observe how the boys might use their “beyblades.” Construction paper, cardboard, a woven panel, a section of carpet and a section of the floor became defined testing spaces. Using SMART Ideas, I also projected a cliplet of a clock to see if they would make use of it. I sat back and observed. They immediately began to try the different surfaces. One of the boys also took the lid from one of the bins and decided to try that. It didn’t take long before they were all around the hoop on the floor. The next day, I posted some pictures of their play on a piece of chart paper in order to encourage them to record some of their observations. This inspired some of my earliest as well as reluctant writers to record their findings. I asked them where their beyblade spun the best. They all agreed it was “on the floor because it’s not so rough and not so light,” and that their beyblade would spin longer. When I asked how they knew this, they pointed to the clock to show me, but none of them knew how to use the clock. They all counted at different speeds as their blades were spinning, so we talked about using the clock because it was “fair” and we learned how to count the second-hand as it moved.
After speaking to a few teachers recently, I discovered that students in their classes have also been interested in beyblades. Another of our Kindergarten classes made a stadium. It would be interesting to pay them a visit.
Our friend Ms. Babalis from the York Region District School board has a wonderful blog where she has posted what the children in her class discovered about spinners and movement. I plan to share her post with this group to see if it will inspire them further.