“If Play Dough Could Talk, What Would It Say?” #EDUWallTalk

September 4, 2017

Why That Title?

This was one of sixty-thousand or so questions raised while teaching the preschool class at my church this past weekend. 

While playing with Play-Dough, a four-year-old student says,

“Mrs. Martin, What if play dough could talk? What would it say?”

Being slightly caught off guard, I asked, “What do you think it might say?”

And just like that, the curiosity light bulbs began turning on for all of the toddlers. They started chatting faster than their vocabulary could articulate. The ideas lit up our room with MANY interesting solutions.

Such as…

“You squishing me! Ouch!”

“I wuv (love) it when you make me into a star because I wike (like) to twinkle.”

“PLEASE, PLEASE make me into a dinosaur so I can ROAR!”

“I like it when you roll me into a ball. Weeee…this is FUN!”

It wasn’t long before the students began to respond to their play dough comments. Yes, they were engaging in REAL conversations with their play dough. 

“Sure, I’ll make you into a dinosaur. I’ll help you ROAR.” (waving the play dough in the air and ROARING loudly)

“Balls are my favorite toy ever!” (pretending to throw his play dough ball)

 

What if Other Inanimate Objects Could Talk?

Thank heavens their parents didn’t walk in during that moment; they may not have understood our “Play Dough Conversation” adventures. 

However, the more their curiosity took them down discovery lane, the more I wanted to ask them about other inanimate objects talking. Toddlers have little to no inhibitions (minus one of our students who can’t speak). In general, they don’t contemplate, “Should I say this or that?” They just say whatever pops into their little minds. 

 

Student Voice and Wall-Talk Feedback

So, while we were sitting in a circle on the floor for sharing time, I said,

“What if our walls could talk? What would they say about our class?”

As you know two, three and four-year-olds are rarely at a loss for words. They immediately began to give their opinions, and their explanations filled my heart.

“They would say that looks like a fun place.”

“I wish I had legs so I could dance to the Hokey Pokey song.”

“They sing and draw so pretty.”

“They give wots (lots) of hugs.”

“They are siwwy (silly) most of the time but sometimes cry.”

“I wish I had arms so I could hug Mrs. Martin.”

“We are all different, but it’s ok.”

“I want hands so I can paint.”

“That place is fun.”

“Puppets are siwwy (silly) dancers!”

“Everyone gets to do stuff they wuv (love).”

The more they shared their feedback via Wall Talk, the more I began to smile to the ears. This class is comprised of kiddos from ages two to four years old; we have multiple races, diverse learning styles, and students with special needs. Their answers resoundingly echoed, “This is a safe place to learn and feel loved.” While they didn’t share any content I had taught them, their feedback revealed that they feel comfortable to be them–to be REAL. It, also, informed me that I might need to work on the content piece. Thanks to their feedback, I’m already looking into other learning resources.

This experience got me thinking…

 

#EDUWallTalk Challenge

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have students answer the same question in our classrooms at school?

Their replies would reflect on how the culture of our class is shaping up after the first month. Student feedback is powerful. In fact, maybe we can have them complete the same task again throughout the year to check the pulse of our classroom environment? 

 

Resources for Responses

Their responses might be logged in many ways. Here are few thoughts:

• Simply through conversation, as I performed above

• Maybe via exit slips or note cards

• Create a Google Slide show with one blank slide per student. Every student could take a Google Slide and share their responses with words and images. Then, title the slide presentation with the month and year to show growth over time.

• Maybe #BookSnaps gone #EDUWallSnaps? Snap a picture of the wall. Create the imagery in your mind to express what the classroom walls might say. Not going to lie…LOVE this!

• Flipgrid reflections would be fantastic!

• What about creating a “What Our Walls Would Say” book via Book Creator?

Oh, how I wish I were in the classroom to try this, but I do think I will implement this reflection process during my next Instructional Coaching Meeting. We meet monthly in the same room, and I’d like to know what they think our walls might say if they could talk. Their responses will help me gauge how I’m doing as #TheRookieAdmin when it comes to leading and mentoring this amazing group of educators. I’ll make sure to share the experience with you all.

 

If the walls of our classroom (or conference room) could talk, what might they say?

If you try this, I’d love to hear your reflections on the process. Tag me @TaraMartinEDU on Twitter and let’s use this hashtag #EDUWallTalk.

Also, if you have more ideas for how the students might share their #EDUWallTalk, please leave your suggestions in the comments below. 

Student feedback can teach us so much about our performance as educators. Let’s not be afraid of what might be disclosed, but rather view it as an opportunity to reflect and grow professionally. 

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