In our classroom, we have two tires. I initially got them back before reorganization because students were interested in items that moved, and I thought that the tires might further inspire this inquiry. Students explored them for a couple of days, and then ignored them. That was when my partner at the time suggested putting cushions on top of them and having them as seating areas. Fantastic! They looked so pretty with a plump, round cushion filling up the centre hole. Then our classes were reorganized, and I thought that the new students were going to love these places to sit.
On the second day in the new classroom, one student took off one of the cushions, picked up the tire, and started rolling it around the room. “Hey, wait a minute! He can’t do that!” Or that’s at least those were the thoughts that went through my mind at the time. I asked him to put the tire back. It was for sitting. He did put it back, but then, a couple of days later, the child picked up the tire again. Okay, I was going to have to ask him to stop for the second time … and I did. This was just a couple of days before my new partner started her job.
When she came into the room, she saw the tires and said, “Fantastic! The kids are going to love those. They can roll them, and even bounce on them like a trampoline.” What? Bounce on them? Won’t they get hurt? Aren’t these supposed to be for sitting? I shared these questions with her, and she assured me that the children would be fine. Tires could actually be great to help them self-regulate. There were opportunities for pushing, pulling, and heavy lifting. Okay, I was going to have to “belly breathe” and let the children move the tires.
I didn’t say anything, but a couple of days later, this student started rolling the tire again. I just watched to see what he would do. Pretty soon, he had another student rolling the second tire. Then a third student wanted to join in. There was no tire left to roll though. Now what? The students then set-up a game, where they rolled the tire back and forth to each other. They needed to push hard enough to make the tire roll, and the second student needed to be prepared to stop the tire and roll it back. This was just the start of the tire exploration. Pretty soon, we had …
- students filling up the tires with toys and rolling them back and forth to make music. They were almost like giant rain sticks.
- students sitting in the tires and tapping on them to make a “tire drum.”
- students rolling tires, dropping them down, picking them up, and starting again.
- students balancing on the tires.
- students gently bouncing on the tires like a trampoline.
- students jumping in and out of tires for their own DPA (Daily Physical Activity).
- students sitting in stacked tires for a calming place to self-regulate.
This tire experience has been a good reminder for me that sometimes we need to “feel uncomfortable” in order to meet children’s needs. Back at the beginning of the year, I may have worried that letting students do something like this would eventually just lead to problems. Even if a moving a tire helps you self-regulate, you can’t have an adult moving tires around his/her workplace. But then I saw this TEDx video shared by The Mehrit Centre, and I learned that the options that students use now will shift to more socially appropriate ones as they grow up.
We all self-regulate, and maybe something as simple as a tire can help the children do just that. And so today, I think about a blog post that I read the other night by Kristi Keery-Bishop. Her challenge to us is to bring a little happiness to November by “thanking a teacher” (#thankateacher). These tire experiences made me realize that I have a couple of very special teachers to thank: my fantastic partner, Nayer, who made me see “tires” differently, and my wonderful class of 23 little “teachers” (students) that showed me all of the creative ways that this one object can be used to help them learn. Yes, sometimes I still see a child pick up the tire and internally cringe, but then I see what that child does with it and I smile. Please join me in thanking the many “teachers” that have made an impact on you … remembering that there are so many people who can “teach” us something new!
One word: AWESOME!
Great creative use of materials by your students – amazing learning happening eah day.
Thanks for sharing your adventures!
Thanks Sarah and Faige for the kind words! I’m just glad that my partner convinced me to give this a go, and our students showed us such creative and meaningful ways to use these tires. It can be hard to do something so “uncomfortable,” but often when we listen to students, we learn a lot. I wonder what others have learned from their children.
Loved that you shared this experience with us!!
Thanks Faige! I don’t know how I missed this comment, but I appreciate it!