Yesterday I brought out coffee beans and dinosaurs for the sensory table. There were only two tykes and I was feeling brave. The room smelled great, the beans stayed inside the sensory table, and it was a delicious day. Today there were four in the preschool and I was feeling brave again, so out came the beans and fun was being shared by everyone…..except me….I was very busy holding myself together and fighting off the “adult” part of me during such a fun “child” activity…..
It started out great. A small handful of beans landed on the shower curtain that I placed under the sensory table. No biggie, I thought proudly to myself…..And then another handful went airborne. The tykes didn’t have a clue to my rising sense of anxiety. They were busy scooping and pouring and listening to the beans clank and clink as they fell here and there.
I saw an article on my Facebook home page about a preschool teacher who was “brave enough” to allow the sensory materials to “spill” over into all the centers in the room. She sounded so cool….so very very cool…..I wanted to be THAT cool…..so cool that coffee beans would be welcome in the basket with building blocks, and I bet Thomas the Train would love a taste of a coffee bean while he was on break from normal play. I bet the tykes could whip up a delicious coffee and block soup with the beans in the kitchen area…..All these thoughts were zipping in and out of my head when, WHAMO, I got hit in the face with a tyke size fist full of coffee beans!
There were beans EVERYWHERE…..it looked like a bunny convention had invaded The Patch and they all left their little presents everywhere….EVERYWHERE….I was beginning to lose sight of the goal to be THAT teacher…….but…….I held it together.
I began to quietly pick up the beans and slip them back into the sensory table, when out of no where, four tykes went belly down on the floor and began retrieving coffee beans with me. They zipped up that pile and they zipped up this pile and they zipped up all the piles in no time at all. And all the while, they had created a game of picking up coffee beans and I realized that once again I am no longer the teacher to these little cherubs that steal my heart every day. I am their student……and today’s lesson was how to be THEIR teacher and not THAT teacher…..
Here’s what they taught me today:
Dear Ms. Patty:
I will make messes while I learn to scoop objects from a flat surface into a rounded cup because my fingers always get in the way. I will master this, and I am so happy you have given me coffee beans today to practice with. I love putting the cup up high so I can see the beans swirl around as I shake the scooper as hard as I can. Beans fall out, and I don’t know why. I better keep doing this until I understand why they do this amazing trick. Love, Miss O.
Dear Ms. Patty:
I want to know why the beans keep falling out of my scooper when my wrist moves up and down and sideways. They fall out EVERY TIME! It is so much fun. I want to do this all morning! And every time the beans fall down, I really like the sound they make on the shower curtain that is now all wrinkly at my feet. You told me it sounded like rain drops as you picked up the beans for me to use again. Love, Miss S.
Dear Ms. Patty:
This is the second day I have enjoyed filling and emptying the big container with coffee beans. I like to work until the WHOLE container is filled before I knock it off the ledge and the beans fall back into the sensory table….well….most of them. My favorite part is screaming, “Whoa” every time. EVERY TIME. It’s such a fun word to say…..Sometimes I like to use the scoop and sometimes I like to put one bean into the container at a time. Love, Mr. M
Dear Ms. Patty:
I have never seen a coffee bean before. I like how they roll down the ramp inside the sensory table. I like to make them go real fast one at a time. I enjoyed making a circle of beans around the dinosaurs. I made a dinosaur family and covered them up in beans! Digging them out got a little messy because I was so excited to dig and bury and dig and bury and dig and bury them. Love, Miss I.
I am not THAT teacher. I will never be THAT teacher. I am however, THEIR teacher and because of that, I held myself together while they explored and experimented and while beans fell and fell and fell. Maybe THAT teacher was merely holding herself together too in the midst of learning chaos. Maybe THAT teacher saw all her students learning and growing and decided that there are times to let messes happen.
Today, I decided that strewn beans here and there were a small chore to pick up in light of all the joy and commotion and learning that was taking place. Holding myself together was rewarded by tykes who chipped right in and picked every last bean up for THEIR Ms. Patty. Holding myself together was rewarded by those chubby arms going around my neck as we all fell into a heap on the floor when “Bean Time” was done. Holding myself together was rewarded by head nods and hands clapping and sparkling eyes saying “YES!” when I asked if they had fun.
I will never ever be THAT super cool and awesome teacher who appears to always get everything right every single day. And that’s fine by me…..I decided today that being THEIR teacher was soooo much cooler and that I have much to learn from my tyke teachers….and I wouldn’t have it any other way…:):):)
Until next time,