By Suzanne Eaddy – Playgroup Coordinator

It has been so enjoyable and interesting welcoming our young tamariki back to playgroup. All the tamariki have developed so much and those who were crawling last year are now walking.

Our playgroup routine is flexible and based on the needs of tamariki, that they are happy to share. Morning tea is usually 10am but some mornings tamariki request (or start) to prepare the scones at 9.30am or state “I need/want food”.  At other times tamariki are all involved in activities and the adults get to prepare the food.

Previously I have not experienced such feedback with regard to an activity. At the beginning of this term we were kindly given a set of six activities, each with a different latch, and a small ‘door’ that lifts when the latch is undone (1st Photo). One of our frequently used activities is a stand with different coloured ‘doors’, each having a different type of latch (2nd photo). I was expecting a positive reaction to the new activity, with its shiny brass latches.

However, reaction to the new activity was one of disappointment from the 2-3 year olds. In conversation with their parents the children pointed out that the new activity had no real doors because there was no space behind them. The lift up doors were not windows either as there was nothing to see.

Upon reflection I had to agree with the tamariki. In its present form the new activity would not be reused, with the exception of one little boy who liked opening and closing the latches. I decided to create windows by placing a picture under each lift up ‘door’. When the revamped activity was re-presented to the children there was a positive, delighted response from each child (3rd 4th and 5th photos).

There are many Maria Montessori quotes about learning from/observing children (from a leadership role) and I think the following quote reflects the child’s view of the activities they use in a Montessori setting.

“The principal agent is the object and not the instruction given by the teacher. It is the child who uses the object: it is the child who is active, and not the teacher.”  [Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child p.150]

Unfortunately, the photos did not capture the instant ‘Wow’ moments of the tamariki, on their first glimpse of the pictures. However, given the initial feedback from tamariki our modified new activity may prove to be as popular as our old version (6th photo).