Our dramatic play: Garage began with a natural interest in cars and vehicles. Like many used vehicles ours also fell into disrepair. We were experiencing this with some of our indoor and outdoor vehicles. Some kinders asked if the educators would fix the vehicles. As we believe are early learners are capable of complex thinking we would ask them questions to encourage them to problem-solve. We asked, “what do you notice that doesn’t work?”, and we just listened. As our kinders closely examined the cars they came up with:
“The wheel fell off.”
“This part needs to go in here.”
“The plastic is broken like a triangle.”
We wrote down some possible solutions and took turns trying to repair our vehicles. Our supply DECE, Brooklyn Faucet, happened to have a mechanic for a brother who was happy to come in to our class during his lunch to share some of his auto shop tools. That was handy!
The kinders were thrilled and motivated by Taylor’s visit that we asked them if they wanted to turn our dramatic play into a garage where they could repair cars. With a small group of kinders Ms. Faucet led designing the garage and supported the children as they collected tools, vehicles, a cardboard garage door, clipboards, graph paper, and writing utensils.
The following dialogue demonstrates critical thinking, problem-solving, perseverance and collaboration from our capable learners. It also demonstrates how the educator encourages the learners to explain their thinking and questions their ideas in a respectful way.
Ms. Fawcett: What do we need to do to attach the tire back to the truck?
DH: We put … (busy working)
Ms. Fawcett: So you’re putting the wire in the hole on the tire?
DH: I’m going to put it through the other hole (the dumptruck hole). So I can tighten it on here. This will be put through there.
Ms. Fawcett: …and pulled tight. Do you think it will work if we keep it flat?
DH: It would be sideways and won’t spin.
Ms. Fawcett: But what if we use two wires?
DH: Oh ya, it will be even tighter. Then on the other side we can put more wires through and then it will be tight. This is going to be cool. I’m going to hold it on and when it gets through the dump truck hole, I will hold it, so I can put it on here.
HB: If your idea doesn’t work we can try my idea.
Ms. Fawcett: What’s your idea?
HB: Well, we need one of these tires, put it through, put it down.
DH: Now we need to tighten. (DH is feeding wire through the holes and using a part from mechano to keep the tire on so it won’t fall off.)
DH: Now I’m going to wire it on… (examines the holes)
Ms. Fawcett: Did you see a spot where you can feed that wire through?
HB: Where the straight part is.
DH: I know that.
JM: I know that. I know to fix that.
HB: We need string for the tire. The string is going to go around the tire.
Ms. Fawcett: Will the tire still spin if it goes around the tire?
DH: If he forgets his idea…
HB: Then I have to think about it more.
Ms. Fawcett: Or you two could work together and come up with a plan together. What’s your new idea?
DH: You put the string through the hole. And then we need this one. It’s going to make the tire be tight.
HB: DH, you should try this.
DH: First, I put it through the dump hole. Then I twisted this wire, this end onto here, so it can be fixed. I put this piece on the side so it can stay. It would come off if I didn’t use it. I worked with other people.
Later we went to a local automotive dealership in Huntsville, ON (Ward Edmunds) and were able to ask questions to the experts and expand our thinking. We were able to touch some tools, watch them in action, see trucks get lifted, learn about winter tires vs all season tires.
Here’s part of our discussion about different kinds of tires after we had an up close investigation of them:
Mrs. Max: What are reasons as to why we would have a winter tire and why we would have a summer tire?
HB: Cause summer tires are, so like, these bumps, aren’t as big as the winter tires.
Mrs. Max: Does anyone know what the name is for the bumps?
PM: I think their called the bumps.
Taylor: They’re called tracks.
Mrs. Max: HB said the summer tracks are smaller than the winter tracks. Why would the summer tracks be smaller than the winter?
LA: Because it’s harder to get through the snow.
Mrs. Max – Good thinking. How do the big tracks help help in the snow?
Taylor: The deep tracks dig into the snow to get closer to the pavement. That will keep the tires closer to the ground so we don’t slide all over the place.
PM: I know why those are called tracks. They make tracks, like deers, or people. That’s exactly what the tires do.
JM: Why does the tires have tracks?
HB: So the car won’t slide all over the place.
Cars, trains, and other vehicles are always of great interest in an early years program, but it was a wonderful experience to dig deeper into this authentic learning experience for our broken vehicles. Some vehicles, we even got an extra few days out of. 🙂 We practiced our questioning, reasoning, and listening skills. We were able to apply what we learned and even achieve some success.