Kids' paper airplanes and free play, storytelling

 Jack, 3 years young, gets ready to give his airplane lift.

I plan to only write about airplane flying and folding and show you kid delight in the Super Suzy looping model that is just right for the play yard space and wind speed this morning. Then I notice something else.

Before presenting the planes, I show pictures of kids’ faces having a variety of feelings to teach emotional vocabulary. I emphasize frustration. Like how it might feel if a plane doesn’t loop after trying so hard. Or, if the loop arches right over the fence.

As we fly and revel in new words like holding the “fuselage” with two fingers so the “lift” gently enhances the flight loop until “gravity” pulls and lands the plane, another story unfolds.

It’s about free play. Free play is a form of what education scientist Caleb Gattengo calls subordinating teaching to learning

Subordinating teaching to learning reminds me that knowledge is the result of something the learner does. It places the emphasis on the child’s learning, not on what the teacher is doing. Gattengo says it's the teacher’s responsibility to create experiences—challenges—to educate a child's awareness about themselves, others, and the situation at hand. In doing so, the teacher asks the questions derived from being alert to what the kids are doing and saying. 

Teacher Starr notices.

After paper plane flying, Elijah finds a stick with a string tied on one end. “Let’s go fishing!” he yells to Mason. 

Starr asks, “Are you going ocean or lake fishing?”

“Ocean! We’re going to catch a shark,” replies Elijah as he jumps on the stump (his boat) for a long cast.

“Will you keep or throw it back?"

"How will you get it off the hook?”

Then Elijah’s pal Mason yells, “Catfish! I’m catching catfish.” 

Elijah helps Mason tie a string on his rod. Mason tells him, "I need a long line, they're on the bottom."

“Are there catfish in the ocean?” asks Starr.

Without waiting for a reply, Elijah gathers a couple small toys and begins to tie a small, grey-muddied stuffed animal to the end of the string. “I caught an octopus!"

I watch as he casts and pretends to reel. When it's time to go inside, Elijah disappointedly exclaims, “Hey, I’m fishing! Shark are biting now!”

And another story. Look at this photo.

Here's the story. 

Last month the kids invite me to get on the bus (3 plastic coolers) because we are going to the beach. About 5 kids hop on. In an antiphonal duet, they pretend riding on a bus while planning what to do at the beach. I listen and ask questions. 

“What do we need to bring?" I hear these responses. Bucket and shovel. Swimsuit. Food. Sunscreen. An umbrella. My doll. 

"How many sandwiches do we need? Is there mustard or mayo on your turkey sandwich? "

“Does everyone have a snorkel mask or will we share?” 

Ansel sits in the back of the bus and he helps us decide we'll run across the sand and look for a shell before we dive in. The back and forth continues in response to a question one of the kids asks, "What kind of shell did you find?"