Sunday, 14 July 2019

IDP Me

In the New Zealand early childhood sector or maybe even beyond into primary school should we be talking about Individual Development Plans or documentation that is:

I nteresting, informative
Discovering learning dispositions held in
Portfolios that show progress and partnership?

As teachers in NZ education we have the privilege of being able to document children's learning through Learning Stories which are often housed in the child's portfolio.  The learning portfolio is evidence of the real IDP.  Worryingly, over the last year I have noticed teachers writing up formal Individual Development Plans for children.  Why worryingly, well the time spent writing one of these needs/deficit based plans could be spent writing a credit based celebration of the learning that the teacher is noticing, recognising and responding  to.  It is important to make sure what we do counts, we do not want to create paper for paper sake therefore we need to ask the question is an IDP the most effective way to think about children's learning and how does the idea of an IDP fit with Te Whāriki (2017), the New Zealand curriculum?

Let us think about the alternative - portfolios full of Learning Stories that are interesting, talk about dispositional learning that show progress and partnership with whānau and children.  Firstly, it is wise to think about what you value as learning - what is the goal of education?  When we know this then we can talk about progress toward that goal.  I have written about this in a previous blog titled 'I never thought I'd...'  This is a question I have asked many many teachers over the years and I think at the heart of their reply is that the goal of education is to grow learners.

Interesting and informative

 When Learning Stories are written from a position of 'wow I just have to write about this moment'
then they cannot help but be interesting.  It is when teachers move from the 'wow' into an accountability mode that Learning Stories can lose their power to engage the reader and writer or to talk about the amazing learning that happens for children.  Often teachers are given groups of children to write for and this can put them on a slippery slope of accountability to paper rather than the child and their learning.  

What makes a Learning Story interesting - often the narrative invites the reader into the Learning Story.  The Learning Story is a celebration of the learning that is happening.  Here is an example of a Learning Story written for Roman titled Nothing is ever as it seems.   Learning Stories hold the attention of the reader whether it
Click to read the full Learning Story
is the child, the whānau or the teachers when they show a real understanding of who the child is and what drives their learning.  Te Whariki (2017) reminds us to think about the learning that happens through play and how children's interests (passions) drive their learning.

The Learning Story is evidence of how teachers follow the notice, recognise and respond sequence.  Teachers write the narrative this is the noticing then the next section is about recognising the learning that is happening and the respond, talks about the way your teaching practice will support the learning further.  Learning Stories are formative assessment.  For reflective teachers Learning Stories have the power to transform teaching practice.  It is the thoughtful engagement with Learning Stories that shows a deep understanding of who the child is and how to support them as a learner.



Discovering learning dispositions



If the goal of education is to grow learners then what should we focus on for assessment of learning?  Building learning muscles or dispositions is something that Guy Claxton has researched as you can see in his video above. Professor Guy Claxton talks about the split screen of learning which includes the what, the how and how it grows children's attitude toward learning. Learning Stories shape children's identities of themselves as learners.  When teachers use the language of learning to describe the child then this is what they become.  Children become the voices of those around them.  Through Learning Stories are we talking to children about building their learning muscles?  Muscles such as thinking, planning, creativity, problem-solving, effort, courage, playfulness, reasoning or many.

During a StarTalk interview Jane Goodall talked about how during her childhood she was supported to be curious, ask question, to not be giving the right answers, making mistakes, not giving up and learn patience.  Jane Goodall did not take the traditional path to becoming a world recognised scientist and credits her childhood of being encouraged to be a learner and a thinker to her success.  

   

Click to read full Learning Story
Ever since Roman was a baby first learning to master the stairs he has heard the messages of his learning through learning stories that celebrate the mastering of new skills or knowledge plus the strengthening of his learning muscles.  These messages constantly build his view of himself as a capable learner and give him the learning language to use to describe himself and the process of learning.

Lorraine Sands talks about the way we support children's learner identity through focusing our assessment of learning  on learning is learnable.
Click to read the full article on Learning Stories


Portfolios that show progress and partnership?

To quote Carr and Lee (2019, pg. 140) "The portfolios in which Learning Stories are housed provide a measure of the growing of learning dispositions, skills and knowledge: a learner-self."   Thinking
back to the goal of education to grow learners and thinkers and what this might look like as progress would mean to see a golden thread of continuity that focuses on learning dispositions and learner-self.  Roman's identity of himself as a learner has grown since that first Learning Story that celebrated his unique thinking and ability to experiment with his own ideas.  Of course over time his ability in  thinking, creating and problem solving has grown in complexity - this is progress toward that educational goal.  

Learning Stories are the conversation that creates a partnership in the learning. Fleet, Patterson & Robinson wrote in their book Insights,
"Teachers, children and families are able to interpret, reflect and contribute to the happenings of the kindergarten because documentation (Learning Stories) invites a dialogue among them.  This dialogue creates multiple perspective and interpretations."  Roman has many Learning Stories from both his early childhood teachers and his whānau creating a real partnership in his learning.  This partnership happens through Learning Stories that show an understanding of Roman and who he is as a learner.  Emotionally flat Learning Stories written for accountability would not create such a rich conversation between home and the centre.

Click to see full Learning Story.
Click to see full Learning Story.

Click to see full Learning Story.

To IDP or not?

Portfolios house the children's Learning Stories and over time build credit based individual plans
that make evident the way children can lead their own learning in their own time in their own way - ā tōna wa.(Te Whāriki, 2017)  Learning Stories do not rush ahead of the child to create planning that maybe disconnected from where the child would lead their own learning, rather they are meaningful assessment of the learning that is happening in the moment for the child with the child firmly in the drivers seat.

So how do IDPs fit with Te Whāriki?  Do they allow for children's agency and sense of children learning in their own way in their own time?  Are they keeping true to the Principles of Te Whāriki - WHAKAMANA, KOTAHITANGA, WHĀNAU TANGATA, and NGĀ HONONGĀ?

Formal deficit written IDPs have the potential to rob both children and teachers of the joy of learning as the focus turns to needs and planning to fill in the gaps for children's learning.  Loris Malaguzzi said, "Stand aside for a while and leave room for learning, observe carefully what children do, and then, if you have understood well, perhaps teaching will be different from before."   Learning Stories are an assessment tool that makes evident teaching practice and knowledge, strengthens learner identity, never goes ahead of children, is credit based, creates a partnership with whānau and at all times are a privilege to write.

Learning is emotionally engaging and what children NEED are not plans that try to fill up perceived gaps in knowledge or skills, but thoughtful heart felt Learning Stories that are a celebration of learning.  What is needed is assessment documentation that makes teachers hearts sing to write and the child and whānau  heart to fill with a sense I know the teachers "can see me" the child and all that I bring.  “Ko te ahurei o te tamaiti arahia o tatou mahi - Let the uniqueness of the child guide our work.”

What would you choose to spend your time on?



Carr, M. and Lee, W. (2019). Learning Stories in Practice: London:Sage Publishing

Fleet, A.,Patterson, C. & Robinson,J. (2006) Insights: Behind early childhood pedagogical documentation: Pademelon Press:New South Wales

NZ Ministry of Education (2017), Te Whariki. He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o       Aotearoa:Early Childhood Curriculum: Ministry of Education: New Zealand





Saturday, 8 June 2019

Nothing is ever as it seems

Nothing is ever as it seems


Roman your imagination has the power to draw everyone into a world full of laughter and fun.  When you are in your element Roman, out in nature, nothing is ever as it seems.  You create a world where a stick is never just a stick.  A world where, the park play equipment in the hands of your imagination offers many possibilities to amuse not only yourself but those around you.

Paisley, Corbin, you and I went for a long trek up the pathways to explore in unknown territory, we were on an expedition to find a park.  It is quite a steep pathway up the hill but you were not phased because your superpower gumboots gave you extra energy and therefore you did not become tired.  Wow where can I buy some of those Roman.
After creating such delight for Paisley and Corbin by finding new ways to master the merry-go-around we headed off back down the hill in the hope that dinner would not be too far away.  It was on the slow trip back down the hill that everyone noticed thesticks.  The humble stick transformed  you in to an alien with a really large antenna, two sticks in front of you meant you were able to mow the pathway, they were useful for drumming, to be a rabbit with two large ears, to use for skiing down the slopes, for reaching up into the trees, the list was as endless as your imagination Roman.
Corbin and Paisley joined in the story telling that the sticks inspired.  Corbin made a ‘V’ with her sticks and transformed into Santa Claus with a long beard while Paisley was eating lollipop sticks.

What learning I think was happening here.
Karen said this about you Roman in the Learning Story - Roman What Can You Do?  “Roman’s playful spirit shines through and scaffolds him to be a performer, leader, and dancer.”  It is this playful spirit that we see moment by moment when we are all together Roman. 
What a great muscle to be growing Roman, the creative muscle that  allows you to be a divergent thinker,  this ability will help you to reframe problems and find amazing solutions to tricky situations.  Toi taakaro - thinking beyond, playing with ideas is a wonderful disposition to continue growing.  
“Divergent thinking, the ability to consider a variety of possible solutions, involves fluidity of thinking and free association. It is thought to be a major cognitive process underlying creativity.” (Guilford, 1968; Russ & Kaugars, 2001). 

Nurturing this learning.

Ensuring there are plenty of loose parts for you to engage that amazing imagination will continue to strengthen your ability to think divergently.  Nothing is ever as it seems when you are around Roman.  Wow this makes everyday magical and exciting as we delight in listening to your theories on life and imaginative story telling that you so readily share with us.












Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Lessons from the bridge

 Let me set the scene.....I live in a relatively new suburb in Tauranga called The Lakes.  There are many beautiful walks in the area and one of them includes a walk across this bridge.  The bridge is part of the new development and I am guessing that it would be about 5 years old maybe.

I often walk over this bridge and the ideas below are lessons that have accumulated over many walks.   As I sat a while on the bridge yesterday, to enjoy the cool breeze that blows down the lake I started to think more about the lessons I have learnt from this bridge over time.     This year my inquiry question is 'What does it mean to see me?'  Maybe this is the start of my journey into a very reflective year.

So here are the 9 lessons from the bridge:

1.We all live the same number of years, but we all age differently.  Aging is individual and maybe we have a choice in that.  Remember this bridge was built all at the same time, but some of the pieces have had to be replaced already. So aging is not about how many years we have been alive it is an individual experience.


2. The replaced, new pieces stand out, they are not wrinkly and weathered.  The new pieces do not hold the same beauty that comes with a life lived well.  There is a beauty in age that sometimes we forget to see and instead try to stay forever looking young.

3. The replaced pieces eventually blend into the surrounding - thinking of them as becoming part of the bridge.  Do we see young people, really see young people or do we think of what they will be not who they are in this moment, recognising their strengths, their abilities, what they have to offer just as they are, not as what they are becoming.

4. When one part of the bridge is replaced another takes its place.  For safety purposes the bridge needs to be repaired and  the broken or damaged pieces need to be replaced.  Each replacement piece needs to be carefully considered - length, depth, wood etc.  What if we allowed the gap to remain for a little bit, examine the gap, feel comfortable with the gap and then fill the gap.  Gaps created through change in circumstances or grief, can be responded to with pause allowing time to think about what will fill that void, if anything.  In life I wonder if gaps need to be filled, are they opportunities for new adventures.  I have known grief in my life - the lose of parents and grief of divorce - I think the pause, the gap is well worth sitting with for a time.

5.  The parts of the bridge come to an end in no particular order.  A little like life, we are not all the same at different ages, we cannot all be ready for the same experiences at the same age.  For example, in education why would we think that all 3 year olds for instance would be exactly the same.  Although the bridge is one structure its individual parts need individual attention.  Education maybe one structure but it has individual people inside it with individual ways of being.

6. The beauty of the bridge is its rustic charm - it's not perfect, it's well used and it takes you somewhere.   Life is not perfect, but filled with rich experiences and used well it will take you somewhere.

7. When we see the bridge we see it in its entirety.  We don't fixate on the young palings or the old, we know that each part is valuable - without one part the whole is weakened.  This is about community.  There is richness to diversity of ages being in community - whether it is a local suburb, ECE setting or school.

8. The young and the old pieces of the bridge rely on each other.  Everyone has equal value and deserving the of same respect.

9. As the young replace the old, the remaining old pieces still support the bridge.   Old wisdom and strength support the young.  Titiro whakamuri her ārahi i ngā uaratanga kei te kimihia. Look to the past for guidance and seek out what is needed.

Well there it is 9  lessons about aspects of life from a bridge.  They may overlap but that is life, a weaving together of relationships, experiences, perspectives and opportunities.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

It looks like fun but are they learning?

It looks like fun but are they learning is a chapter written by Petrich, Wilkinson and Bevan in the book Design Make Play (2013) they write, "Well, it looks like fun....[pause]...but are they learning?   Strange that because an experience looks like fun then it is harder for some to think that there is learning involved.  I know many teachers in Aotearoa/New Zealand that would have had play questioned as relevant learning - comments such as,  'they are JUST playing and having fun'.  Their words resonated with me and probably with many many teachers who understand and value learning that comes from tinkering with your own ideas.  They wrote about a question that they had been asked many times,
Over the last couple of years I have researched and facilitated many workshops on tinkering and started this blog as a way to capture some of my ideas.  Admittedly this blog has taken many different pathways over time and I attribute this to the notion of tinkering.  Tinkering is ultimately about inquiry.  For me one aspect of tinkering has been about taking an idea and letting it bounce around in my head for awhile - shaping and reshaping my thinking - it's about being able to mentally take apart an idea, belief, tradition or way of being  and then maybe putting it back together as it was or totally reshaped by my thinking.

Let me explain further......
Last year I started pondering on a question and this question became the lens that I looked through personally and professionally.    My question was.......
Who said good is good?
I had somewhat naively always considered myself as a person who is free spirited with regard to having my own ideas and thoughts.  However, this quote from Ingersoll along with many other writers started my thinking about my own thinking - for instance was my thinking really my own or was it shaped by a myriad of influences current, past and through generations of traditions.  Had I ever considered why I thought something was 'good'?

From tinkering with the idea of 'who said good is good' I set about to inquire and critically consider my own bias and cultural knowledge of what I consider good is.    "The proper time to influence the character of a child is 100 years before he is born.  In each of us lives our childhood and the values of past generations", is a quote from Robert ten Bensel.  If I am influenced by the thinking of those 100 years ago what was happening then in education and beyond?  What did teaching and learning look like?

Other than me tinkering with my own ideas of 'good' what does this have to do with my teaching practice and the conversation of 'but are they learning'?  Well.... actually everything.  If we are not open to new thinking eg. teacher's inquiry then we will be stuck in the past hundred years of thinking about what learning looks like.  The question of 'it looks like fun but are they learning' is influenced by people's own experience of education.  They remember back to the day when as a child they were tortured by education. Oh, maybe 'tortured' is too strong a word but at the moment I cannot find another to describe the meaningless hours spent behind a desk being expected to digest information only to regurgitate it  later during an exam.  Now that does not sound like fun!  There are those though that  "..understand the difference between the pain of education and the pleasure of real learning."(Dougherty (Design,Make,Play))  For those that do not, maybe it is hard to understand that fun can be synonymous with learning.

All teachers should be open to tinkering with ideas - putting their ideas of teaching and learning under the lens of who said this is good?  The only way to shift education is to be open to possibilities, to be reflective practitioners and to engage with inquiry.  In a previous post titled 'I never thought I'd...' there is a video that considers the idea of education not shifting in a 100 years.  I think in Aotearoa it has, well it is starting to.  Play based learning is valued in both early childhood and primary school.
The New Zealand Curriculum embraces teaching and learning as inquiry stating,
  "Students will be encouraged to value:
  • innovation, inquiry, and curiosity, by thinking
    critically, creatively, and reflectively;"
 Te Whāriki (2017) states that "play and playfulness are valued" and "Children are most likely to generate and refine working theories in learning environment where uncertainity is valued, inquiry is modelled, and making meaning is the goal."

As teachers we should delight in stretching our own thinking about teaching and learning, keeping up to date with research, not stuck in out dated ways of being and constantly critiquing our practice through our inquiry.  Not just believing in tinkering but also modelling that tinkering with ideas is fun, stretches us, grows creative problem solving and ensures we stay current in our thinking and practice.   Only then we will understand deep in our bones that YES, THEY ARE LEARNING EVEN IF TO AN OUTSIDER IT LOOKS LIKE THEY ARE JUST HAVING FUN!




Thursday, 27 July 2017

Increased Concern for the Environment

Following on from the previous post, 'Back to Basics, Back to Nature' I want to take an individual look at each of the 10 values of being in nature.  Starting of course with the first on the list - which is an increased concern for the environment.





What spurred me on to write about this was a very passionate speech that Lady Tilly Reedy gave prior to the new edition of Te Whāriki.  Lady Tilly Reedy was one of the writers of the original TeWhāriki:
"Te Whāriki was originally developed by writers Dr Helen May (senior lecturer in early childhood education) and Margaret Carr (senior lecturer in early childhood studies) from the University of Waikato, working in partnership with Dr Tamati Muturangi Reedy (from 1996, Dean of Te Pua Wānanga ki te Ao, University of Waikato) and Tilly Te Koingo Reedy (nominated by the Kōhanga Reo National Trust).
The metaphor of the whāriki, with its principles | kaupapa whakahaere and strands | whakahirahira was provided by Tamati and Tilly Reedy, who drew upon traditional Māori concepts that had shaped the kaupapa of ngā kōhanga reo." http://tewhariki.tki.org.nz/en/the-story-of-te-whariki/

Te Whāriki has changed, but the principles and the strand headings remain the same.  Lady Tilly Reedy talks about Mana Aotūroa - explorations.  Her words, "I know that a lot of you are concerned about the environment.  Well, be concerned because that is Te Whāriki."

If for no other reason other than being a Te Whāriki centre we should be ensuring that our tamariki have plenty of opportunities to engage with nature.  In order for children to understand and grow ideas of being good kaitiaki they need to know what they are protecting.  They need to have an affinity and love of nature to understand the value of the natural world.  We run the risk of children becoming disengaged with nature - what will that mean for the future of our environment?  Will the children of today grow into adults who will love and protect what we have? "Research has shown that empathy with and love of nature grows out of children's regular contact with the natural world.  Hands on, informal, self-initiated exploration and discovery in local, familiar environments are often described as the best way to engage and inspire children and cultivate a sense of wonder." (Connecting Children with NatureDepartment of Conservation)

From a Te Ao Māori perspective ensuring children connect with the natural world weaves together the Māori belief in the interconnectedness of people and the earth that we come from.  Listening to Penny Brownlee at the Natural Phenomena Conference reminded me of the reassurance and sense of belonging that is created when you know you are part of something much bigger than yourself.  To stand alongside a tree and hear it's heart beat, to stand and look out to the ocean and hear it's song, to listen to nature - the birds, the leaves and to know that we are all somehow connected means that we are never alone.

If children understand this concept of being able to whakapapa back to Papatuanuki then they are more likely to look after, be good kaitiaki, of their environment. 

"Introduce the concept that Papatuanuku is our living mother: she gives us life and we need to respect her and all living creatures. Ranginui our sky father gives us rain so the plants and trees can grow…. Encourage the idea of caring for and nurturing living things. How we can become kaitiaki for the planet and talk about what that means?"

Final thought:  let's not take for granted what we have.  Let us keep alive children's in born sense of wonderment and awe through stopping and ensuring we too are connecting with the natural beauty of the world around us.






Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Back to basics, back to nature.

For awhile I have been thinking about children and adults being able to tinker with their own ideas.  Generally my thoughts have been about play based learning until attending the Natural Phenomena Conference which shifted my inquiry to the outdoor environments that support children's tinkering and learning.  I have possibly written a about the importance of outdoor or nature play on this blog in the past, but more as an aside, now I would like to think about this more in-depth.  So come with me on a journey into looking at back to basics, back to nature.  Firstly, I would like to start with a story:

 Once upon a time, a long long time ago, back when there were witches in the woods and fairies living at the end of the garden, a cowboy hiding behind a bush and an astronaut testing out his or her latest tree rocket,  the children were found outside with friends, neighbourhood children or their siblings while their parents were no where to be seen.
They played contented all day until they  heard the deep call of their tummies beckoning them to return home for food.  They ate, cleaned the mud and dirt from their hands and faces, bandaged the scrapped knee and recharged their batteries for the next day's play and adventure.

Happily escaping the watchful gaze of mum and dad these children set off each day to climb trees, ride bikes, seek out new friends and discover new worlds.  They enjoyed the freedom of using their imagination, creating their own problems and finding their own solutions.  

Children imagined amazing story lines that they acted out - stories of teachers, fairies, bank robbers and police men and women.  They negotiated who was going to be mum, who were going to be the police.  Through this play they grew their  understanding about being fair and kind, without the assistance of their mum and dad.  They grew to understand about what it meant to be a citizen in the world of this far far away time.   And....


they lived happily ever after......


What does this story tell us - we have come a long way from the childhood memories that we once had.  If the question was asked - "What are your most favourite childhood memories?" Most of us would remember back to tree climbing, building huts, playing in or by water, real work outdoors or a range of other experiences OUTSIDE.  

Looking at the value of playing in the outdoors has stretched my thinking about the importance of ensuring children get the opportunity to be in nature just as the happy ever children had experienced.

 I have already started talking with teachers about ensuring children connect with nature, I always start with these words from Guy Claxton: 



As teachers we need to think about the gaps, find the ways we can get children out into nature on a regular basis.  If we focus on the rocks it all becomes too hard and impossible and therefore nothing will change.  Where are the gaps? What can we do?

Below is a list put together by Randy White regarding the benefits of children being in nature.  Over time my hope is to look more closely at each of these benefits on this blog.  

  • increased concern for the environment (Palmer, 1993)
  • increased sense of wonder and imagination (Cobb, 1997, Wilson, 1997)
  • improved ability to concentrate (Taylor et al., 2001)
  • increased motivation for life-long learning (Wilson, 1997)
  • improved personal skills including confidence, social skills, self-efficacy (Dillion, Morris, O’Donnell, Reid, Dickinson, Scott, 2005)
  • reduced stress/greater ability to deal with adversity (Wells & Evans, 2004)
  • increased language and collaborative skills (Moore & Wong, 1997)
  • increased development of senses (Louv, 2005)
  • increased knowledge and understanding of geographical, ecological or food production process  (Dillion, Morris, O’Donnell, Reid, Dickinson, Scott, 2005)
  • increased analytical, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills, and integration of math, science, language arts, social science and other subjects (Bartosh, 2006)

Sir Ken Robinson lists five reasons why taking learning outdoors is a good idea:
  1. Nature is a powerful resource.
  2. Children can learn through practical hands-on activities.
  3. You can tap into children's curiosity.
  4. It is a social experience and children learn from working together.
  5. Learning outdoors is fun.
https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-news/watch-sir-ken-robinson-shares-five-reasons-you-should-take-your-class
https://outdoorclassroomday.org.uk

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Children's right to play


Professor Roger Hart talks about the importance of play for children's development.  This is the same message we are hearing from many researchers and experts such as Sir Ken Robinson and Peter Gray 
Sir Ken Robinson said, "Free play is the means by which children learn to make friends, overcome their fears, solve their own problems, and generally take control of their own lives.  It is also the primary means by which children practice and acquire the physical and intellectual skills that are essential for success in their own culture." (Creative Schools,2015)

Play is something that is part of all cultures and cannot be considered a luxury but something that is essential to the development of children.  Adults/teachers should be aware of the importance of play and create the conditions and environment necessary for children to deeply engage in play.

Peter Gray describes play as:
1. Play is self-chosen and self-directed; players are always free to quit.
2. Play is activity in which means are more valuable than ends.
3. Play in guided by mental rules.
4. Play is non-literal, imaginative, marked off in some way from reality.

In order for children to play with their own ideas we need to consider whether the environment invites curiosity and inquiry.  When thinking about the environment it is not only the physical space but how we use time within the space.  If we slice and dice children's days through following a teacher imposed roster then we run the risk hindering deep engagement.  Children need time to deeply engage in their own ideas and thoughts.  Creativity and playing with ideas cannot be time allocated - nor does it have an on/off switch that can be flicked to suit a time structured day.  Children's play belongs to children, teachers should not inhibit children's play through insensitive planning or pursuit of teacher directed learning or by following programmes the see learning fragmented into curriculum areas or school readiness programs.

Tinkering with their own ideas inside play and inquiry allows children to solve their own problems, learn through the questions and hands on experimentation.  Tinkering/playing with their own ideas supports children to think divergently.  "Divergent thinking is the ability to branch out from a starting point and consider a variety of possible solutions, involves fluidity of thinking, broad scanning ability and free association.  It is thought to be a major cognitive process underlying creativity."  (Guildford, 1968; Russ & Cougars, 2001)  When children have the opportunity to play with open-ended materials, there are numerous approaches that can be taken.  As teachers we need to consider offering children open-ended experiences and remove the word activities from our vocabulary.  Activities are usually closed and teachers often have an outcome in mind as well as a time frame.  Whereas an experience or provocation allows for children to view this as a time to play with their own ideas inside the experience or provocation being offered.  Teaching and learning becomes vibrant because both teacher and children may be delighted and surprised by where the experience goes.