Sunday, March 8, 2015

SOLSC 2015 #8: What about the floor?

Each day during March, I am participating in the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC). All participants are writing about one moment, one part of their day, every day for thirty-one days. My slices will be primarily about teaching preschoolers. Check out the Two Writing Teachers  website for lots more reflections on teaching. Thanks especially to Stacey, Tara, Anna, Beth, Dana, and Betsy for hosting this writing challenge. 


At a conference at Teachers College a few weeks back, Haeny Yoon spoke about "Taking Play Seriously - Tools and Strategies to Observe, Analyze, and Strengthen Young Children's Play." These words really stood out for me:

Play is contradictory, uncomfortable, tense, and very messy.
(Haeny Yoon)

This poem attempts to grapple with classroom, full of play.

The Floor 

Strewn princess dresses, toy stethoscopes and a firefighter jacket, 
a bowl filled with Mardi Gras beads, 
four baby dolls squished together under a blanket,
one child lying on a carpet square, a make-believe hospital bed,
and others bent over her, all dressed like doctors.

Magna Tiles and toy people in total disarray,
and several children crawling under the table to retrieve them,
laughing delightedly,
at how high their structure had gotten before it fell. 

Sand flowing into a small hill,
as a child works with a funnel,
and misses his mark.

A floor puzzle begun,
many pieces thrown about, and
children working side by side, 
on its solution.

Droplets of water from the sink, 
as children soak sponges,
to clean splatters of bright blue and purple paint 
underneath the art table.

Science goggles and magnifying glasses, 
acorns and pebbles,
discarded, idle, forgotten,
with a new challenge now in mind.

Children nestled together,
heads on pillows,
sharing and reading a book.

Colored pencils and markers that have rolled from the table, 
papers set aside and dropped,
as children draw, write, and create. 

All kinds of blocks, 
squares, rectangles, cylinders, arches, tunnels,
long cardboard and wood pieces,
plastic balls rolling about,
scattered about on the carpet,
vestiges of runways, ramps, and roads that have been built, and others still to come.


  1. A while back "The Atlantic" had an article about how play has been tamed and how a resurgence of "dangerous" playgrounds is growing. It was fascinating. I shared w/ students that when I was a kid we played in old cars and on chat piles. In my own classroom we use a lot of "play," such as performing silent scenes, etc. I have a prop and costume box. I believe in the power of play and art in school, and I love how you capture the many academic purposes of play in this poem. The more I read your blog, the more I learn, and the more inspiration I get for my own practice.

  2. I enjoyed all the images in your poem -- I could really see all the happy chaos of children learning as they play. Sounds like a great environment!

  3. Hi Maureen, I've missed most of your posts, but by reading the poem, I see that things are as they have been, and should be. Lovely to see you capture the scene in this way!

  4. Sounds like my floor and I only have one tiny tot! So fun :)

  5. I landed here via Glenda Funk's blog comment on your poem. As another teacher who believes in the power and need for a "messy" classroom, I think it speaks volumes. I will be sharing with others :)
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