I love large cardboard boxes. Preschoolers delight in them, too. This past fall, someone donated one to our class and it became our bear cave - with a simple half-circle opening cut into one side. The box fit four preschoolers comfortably, and this became our respected limit. The box became another way to do that important social emotional work of taking turns. Plus, it was the best place to read a book or share a story with friends.
After awhile, it was time for a change. It was January, and that old cave was looking plenty ragged after our holiday break. What else might it be? There was a lot more conversation and play about "cars, trucks, and things that go." I bet I could turn that box into an airplane! So I did. I cut another half-circle opening on the other side - thinking it would be helpful for children to enter the plane from both sides. With a little help from another box or two, I created a 'nose' (not sure that's the technical word) and some large flat wings and even some tail wings, though these were particularly flimsy and inclined to break. Ah, the fun the children had! We maintained our cap of four children only, for the main body of the plane, but there was now room for a fifth, a pilot, in the front.
(I still laugh out loud when I remember J sticking her head out of the body of the airplane, holding a map in her hands, and yelling at E in the pilot's seat - "Hey, pilot, this is where we are going!")
We played in that airplane for six fun weeks, and we worked that box hard. There were many repairs made, lots of tape re-employed. When I got into the classroom yesterday morning, I looked at the dilapidated remains and thought, oh my, this plane has got to go.
I carted it out onto the playground for one last romp before the dumpster. I set it up for the children to see as they came down the steps - I just knew that they'd squeal with glee! This would be the farewell tour.
We'll find another box, create another design goal, later.
Bittersweet for me -
my beloved maintenance man,
who helps me and everyone on staff with every possible need that we have, always going the extra mile, a true gem for our school,
he watched me carry that box out of the school and down the steps to the playground,
and I guess he thought I was heading TOWARDS the dumpster...that I was trying to save him a few steps.
When the children raced onto the playground, there were no happy laughs of surprise - they just raced about and played. Only I knew
the plane was gone.
It had already been thrown away.
Here's the reality of teaching -
there are so many adults "in the soup" of it! We are all working hard, alongside one another, with our own duties and concerns, often overlapping and intertwining.
We do the best we can.
We assume good intentions.
There'll be another box.