Each year, month, week, and even sometimes daily, I try to challenge myself to do something that is out of my comfort zone or something I wouldn’t normally do. Sometimes, it is trying something new and learning about it for the first time. Other times it is something truly uncomfortable for me to try. I think trying out new things is good even if I do not feel that way as I prepare for it. Over the last few months, one of my colleagues has been encouraging me to offer more opportunities for the children to create three-dimensional items on a larger scale and with a variety of materials.
Although, I am not at that goal yet I know that this work and they way I handled it is a stepping stone towards large representations. On this day, two boys were working with paper towel tubes. I noticed them using the rolls in block center. The four rolls were being used to hold a piece of paper and they were using it as a building. I mentioned it reminded me of a building at St. Ambrose University. This then turned into a discussion of buildings which have columns. One child says, “Can we use these to make a Happy Joe’s? But I do not think the one by our school has tower (columns).”
Thus began their creation. I offered to bring up a picture of the Happy Joe’s. The two boys spent forty-five minutes creating their Happy Joe’s store. They used pictures from the store as well as their memory from trips that they have taken there with their families. They started by discussing what materials they might need. They brought over string, scissors, a hole puncher, and markers. They worked on holding up the four paper towel rolls and asked for a box of some kind to help balance the paper towel rolls. After a small search, the children found a box. They hole punched the paper towel rolls and added string. After attempting to connect this to the box, the boys decided they did not need the paper towel rolls as the real building did not have these. The boys began to transform a box into the store. They started by cutting out doors in the front and the back of the building. Each boy leading the efforts on their side of the box. They youngest boy brings over a Happy Joe’s box and copies the words onto a sticky label. He connects this to the box by the side of his door. After both doors are cut open and labeled the boys decide one needs to be an emergency door like the one at the restaurant. He uses a red piece of paper and cuts a piece off and places it in the inside of the door and writes fire on it. Another peer joins them and the boys share what they have done so far. He reminds the boys that they need tables and chairs. The boy goes into the treasure chest (click here to find out more!) and finds baby food containers. “If I turn these upside I could make a table.” He then shows them the piece of fabric he has found. “See this is the table-cloth. Only some restaurants have these.” Another child shares that we need tables and he begins folding business card like pieces of card stock in half. He then cuts them to create chairs. The child who created the chairs watches this work and then shares, “Those look like booths when they are not cut.” He folds one in half and places it on the back wall of the restaurant. He then reminds friends that Happy Joe’s has to have a kitchen to bake all the pizzas. A friend finds a small rectangular box and they connect it to the shoe box. They decide to return to it the next day finishing it off.
The following day, another child offers her opinion reminding the boys that a parking lot is needed for the customers to park. She marks lines on a piece of paper and finds cars to ensure they will fit in each of the parking spots she has created. She then tapes her paper to the box. The children then act out going to a Happy Joe’s store before asking if it can be put up for display.