We have a group of students this year that love Perler Beads. These incredibly tiny beads stress me out. They fall down everywhere. We even tried Kristi Keery-Bishop‘s suggestion of laying a towel on the table to catch them, but the little bowls of beads still managed to get knocked over and create a giant mess on the floor.
The little beads may be the bane of my existence — they may be small, but the mess they make is huge 🙂 — but they are calming for many. Interesting to see the number of students that chose this area today. It makes you wonder if they knew that they needed this quiet, focussed time. #earlyyears #teachersofinstagram #ctinquiry #selfregulation @self_reg
The students are great at sweeping up the beads though, and even though I still manage to find small groups of beads here or there in the classroom, beading usually becomes a daily occurrence. Why? Because the students take them out. They get them when they need them. Usually in the afternoon, a group of children start to clean off a table that’s not being used, grab the container of beads from the top of the drying rack, find some bowls to pour them into, and create their beading area. While these miniature beads stress me out, they help a group of our students self-regulate.
These students decided that they needed some beads this afternoon for a nice, calm, quiet activity. They created the space for them, set the space up, cleaned it up, and even helped each other out when some bead work got knocked over. So nice to see! Discussed the patterns and designs too. #iteachk #ctinquiry #teachersofinstagram
On Friday afternoon, two Kindergarten students actually discussed this very topic as they were beading.
Wonderful things really do happen thanks to Perler Beads.
This bead work was a reminder for me to look closely and with a new perspective. I was about to tidy up this work from yesterday, and then I stopped and looked again. Can you see what I see? Look at the patterns. Look at the art. Look at the symmetry. Kids amaze us when we stop and look closely! #ctinquiry #fdk #earlyyears #art
I wonder if regularly trying to capture these positive beading moments is one of my self-regulation strategies. They act as good reminders for me about the value in having these beads out for children and the value in allowing children to choose what works for them. On Friday though, I saw a different positive moment that comes from beading.
As children bead, they often talk. Sometimes they talk about their bead work, sometimes they talk about topics of interest, and sometimes their talk surprises you. This is what happened on Friday. I overheard some students playing with silly rhymes at the beading table as I recorded another learning moment in the classroom. My attention then turned back to this beading table.
After she finished her row of beads, she found me a piece of paper and a pencil. That led to this …
Another child at the table started to sing her own alphabet rhyming song, so that inspired some different writing.
That writing led to some reading and singing.
Another child was inspired to write her own rhymes too, so she grabbed a piece of paper and started this.
Inspired by some other students that were playing with rhymes, S. decided to write her own. Wrote “bes, nes, ces, tes.” While the words are not spelled correctly, she used letter-sounds combined with the “rhyme” at the end to write the different words. Read all of them. A nice segue to some word families. #ctinquiry #iteachk #teachersofinstagram
I can’t help but wonder if the calmness of beading allowed for this other learning to happen. Beading is also a relatively quiet activity, and with a little additional quiet, we’re sometimes more apt to hear something that we might miss otherwise. I’m glad that I didn’t miss this teachable moment … one that we plan on extending this week with a connection to Dr. Seuss and Lorax Land.
As I think more about beading, I can’t help but wonder about the number of times in my teaching career that I would have avoided something that causes me so much stress. It would be easy to stop beading: to put the container away or let the bead collection run out and not purchase any more. But then I look at the thinking, learning, and sharing that’s happening thanks to this beading, and I’m reminded that sometimes we have to let some things go no matter how difficult that may be. What are some things that cause you stress but help your students (or some of your students) self-regulate? How do you balance these different needs in the classroom (or at home), and what’s the value in doing so? As another week begins, I’m reminded to keep my eyes off the mess and on the learning. Bring on the beads!