Monday, March 4, 2013

Choice & Outdoors

At the pasta night Saturday the silent auction included a gift basket from the kindergarten moms. They put together a very nice book* (see ordering information at the end of this post) written here in the classroom that surveyed the students with regard to their favorite activities in kindergarten.

I saw this as an opportunity to use numbers in a very practical way. I wanted to know—and reflect upon—the things kindergartners in this class enjoy most.

We read the book together and tallied the activities they mentioned in the book. That task alone helped to shape the data and the results. How do you decide to group the information? If one child mentions rings and another mentions bars, while a third mentions playing on the big park do we have three votes for the same basic activity or do we have one vote for each of three different activities? Deciding how to group these things is somewhat arbitrary and arguable.

In any event we tallied the data and ended up with this:


And while this tells the story somewhat clearly I thought it might be easier to see the results by making a table out of the tallies. We used linking cubes:


This afternoon I arranged those linking cubes like this:


And we can see that the kindergartners enjoy being outdoors. Activities outdoors received 18 mentions.

Bikes: 10
Parks:   4
Kickback: 3
Garden: 1

Indoor activities were mentioned 10  times:

Blocks: 3
Snack: 2
Drawing: 1
Legos: 1
Centers: 1
Dancing: 1
Play dough: 1

But most interesting to me is how activities that allow for choice or freedom compare to those that are mostly adult directed:

Choice: 33 mentions
Bikes: 10
Friends: 9
Parks: 4
Kickback: 3
Blocks: 3
Snack: 2
Legos: 1
Play dough: 1

Adult-directed: 1 mention
Centers: 1

Having mixed qualities of both freedom and adult direction: 5 mentions
Dance: 1
Drawing: 1
Garden: 1

Snack: 2


What do we conclude? Well, if you want a child to enjoy school, make sure you've got some choice and freedom, and let them play outside.

I was also interested in some of the things that weren't mentioned at all. Perhaps these things were for many students a top second choice, I don't know. But among the things we do a lot and yet not singled out for mention are:

cooking, singing, playing musical instruments, PE, story time, calendar routines, the quiet room, the doll house, and (don't tell him!) Archy.

Okay, enough reflecting.

Today we made lemonade with the help of room moms Janelle and Jennifer.

Juicing the lemons.

Tasting straight lemon juice

Ah, lemonade made fresh

When Mary's mom came by this afternoon she brought along Shasta. Too cute!


Tomorrow at centers time we'll do an art project to decorate the front of the room. If you're a center volunteer you may take the day off.


Be well.
*You can order a book for yourself by using an order form that will be included in the next Friday folder.

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