One way that we continue to build community within our classroom each year is by creating meaningful opportunities for the children to work and communicate with a single partner at times. This could be during a specifically designed activity, during lunch, or at a center. In the first photos, partners are either working on recreating the alphabet, in order, with letter blocks, or exploring a teens math activity where they are counting out a designated number of blocks and building a tower with them. We love to witness the excitement in their faces as they work through the activities together, offering support and encouragement, ideas and suggestions, to reach a common goal. Not only do these activities promote teamwork, they also encourage sharing, turn taking, and patience as the children often have to wait for a specific activity to become available.
We decided as a class that we would like to “see the world” by learning about the different kinds of animals from each continent. These “pairs” areas are intentionally set up for only two children at a time. In contrast to the previous activities, there is no set outcome and the children are learning to collaborate in open ended situations. They are using their imaginations, experimenting with creativity, learning to make their own rules, managing their own expectations, all while cooperating respectfully with a partner to consider and accommodate.
“Tables for Two” has been a classroom staple of mine for decades. At lunchtime, the children pair up with one other child, giving them all a chance to rotate through the members of our class, often sitting with a child with whom they might not have had an opportunity to really connect with yet. Sometimes they get to pick who they are with, sometimes they do not. 😊 The children inevitably connect by discovering things they have in common.
Gemma Fagan, Preschool Teacher