Before our November break, a large construction was made, and everyone agreed that it was a hotel. The children worked together to construct, then add details to, a large construction made out of the hollow blocks. There was even a preferred way of picking them up and moving them around.
We sat down and talked about hotels and found out what the children know about them: beds, pools, food, and car parks seemed to be the major themes. The children then sketched some basic ideas about what we might want our hotel to look like. As teachers, we saw the hotel they had already built as the rough sketch, and we wanted to give them the valuable experience of planning and drafting and collaborating, then building. They sketched on chalkboards.
We put the blocks away for the November break in preparation for a carpet cleaning. But when we returned from the week away, we used photo and video slideshows to reflect on the experience of creating the hotel to bring the children back into the mindset of hotel construction. But the spark just was not there anymore.
What was still happening, though, was construction with the big blocks. Structures were created and adjusted without specific ownership - the blocks and the structures becamse flexible constructions that are everyone's property. Multiple children would be in playing around the blocks, with some imaginging they were in a castle, and others pretending that same structure was a robot.
So our reflections on this behavior made us abandon the hotel. This group might enjoy a day of playing hotel after constructing it, but their fantasy play is so varied that it almost seems unfair to corner their play. I feel like this shift came from respect for the children's work and ideas. As teachers, we see our role as documenters and facilitators, especially during this inquiry. How can we help them go further? What else do they need? Who else can they be?
One way that we will be trying to share this documentation is through a large panel that spans a wall in the room. It will be a work in progress, documenting the progress and the story of their play and exploration of pretend. It is right at their level, too, so I hope it is used as a resource.
We're off to a funny start - going in one direction and turning around - but it seems like the best decision for this group. We're excited to see what they show us.