A CULTURE OF COLLABORATION
What does it mean to collaborate? Collaboration is a special kind of teamwork that invites vulnerability, creativity, learning, and surprise.
Collaboration allows us to do and think and ask and create things that we could never have done on our own. But also, it allows us to experience what it feels like to matter.
This week, explore the many colors of collaboration through cooking, art, storytelling, music, and more!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
I. Reflections for Caregivers
II. @Home Experience
Kitchen | Living Room
Bedroom | Backyard
III. Book List
REFLECTIONS FOR CAREGIVERS
What does it mean to cultivate a culture of collaboration at home? How might the experience of the pandemic invite adults and children to try new ways of being together?
What routines, structures, family rituals or playtime sessions could benefit from an effort to collaborate? What might adults learn from and with children when they are invited to contribute more? What might children learn about themselves?
"When everyone’s ideas come together, collaboration tries to work its way through the cracks to make something new." —McCune, Age 10
Do you have a childhood memory of collaborating with a caring adult?
• What was the activity? What role did you play? What decisions did you help make? How did this make you feel?
• What memories do you have of participating in your family as you were growing up?
• What influence did you have?
• How could working collaboratively with your children as active participants benefit your family today?
• Are there problems or needs that could be explored together for the benefit of all? Could this support how we take care of one another?
@HOME COLLABORATION ZONE(S)
THE KITCHEN: Nourishing Teamwork
What's Cookin'? When it comes to food, collaboration is always on the menu! Family mealtimes serve up the opportunity for meaningful interactions with children of all ages. Ready to dream up new recipes together?
Add a dash, dollop, smidgeon, pinch or spoonful of imagination!
Ingredients for Collaboration: Present your junior chef or chefs with 5–7 basic ingredients that work well together. Invite them to select a few to start with, along with anything special they might want to add (think chocolate chips, cinnamon, or peanut-butter!). Discuss what possibilities might live inside these ingredients when combined.
Collaboration can take time. Experiment with flavors. If your child(ren) predicts something you don’t expect will work—try it anyway! Either you’ll be surprised, or your child will have the opportunity to witness the results first-hand. Then, you can move on together.
Expand Your Palate for Partnership: Start experimenting together. Ask open-ended questions to support your child's thinking, and be sure to sprinkle in your own thoughts.
Dice, cube, chop, drizzle, mince your way through cooperative play!
Decide on a name together for the recipe. Jot it down in a recipe journal or snap a photo. Taste-test the results & ask your child's opinion! If there’s enough to go around, share your culinary masterpiece.
THE LIVING ROOM: A "Living" Mural
Murals have been an integral part of human expression for many millennia. Create a “living mural” that resides in your home over an extended period, such as a week, month, or entire school year.
Explain to your child that this mural is special and will change and grow over time—just as they will!
Prior to starting, come to shared agreements with your child.
As a team, decide:
• Where will this mural live?
• What messages might go on it?
• Do you have anything you want to add on to my idea?
• Can I add on to yours?
• What art materials are needed?
• Where will supplies be stored?
Planning and agreement-making are powerful parts of collaboration. What is possible and what are the boundaries?
After setting up your creative space, let your child’s artistic inspiration take the lead! Be sure to contribute to the mural every so often, too. Whether it’s drawing a funny memory or jotting down a meaningful quote, this will inspire your child to keep adding to it over time.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." ―Helen Keller
Make time along the way for reflection on how the work is progressing and how well everyone is adhering to the agreements.
• What should we tweak?
• Should we use more paper or materials?
• What other ideas do you have?
THE BEDROOM: Adventures in Problem-Solving
Fantasy play enables children to work out real-life situations and help make sense of their world. Head to the bedroom closet for fun with dress-up clothes!
Try role-playing with your child to solve a common household problem together. Together, identify a small, recurring issue in your home that could use a little creative problem-solving, such as losing your car keys or forgetting to take out the garbage.
Then, ask them to imagine a world in which they must collaborate with something magical or unusual in order to solve this problem.
• Could houseplants or pets help?
• Could robots or shooting stars offer support?
• How would you communicate with them?
• What changes could they help enact?
• What role might the adults have in helping?
Ready for dress-up? Throw on an old scarf, a wide-brimmed hat, or a bathrobe, and pair it with common household props to let the storytelling begin! As the narrative builds, gently contribute your own questions and ideas. When you and your young thespian both feel ready to act it out, present your performance!
THE OUTDOORS: Backyard Symphony
@Home Harmony: Music is a universal language appreciated by infants and grandparents alike. "Band together" to explore the rhythms of collaboration through shared music-making.
"Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." —Oliver Wendell Holmes
Creating songs while playing with rhymes and repetition is the perfect way to collaborate musically. Ask your child to find interesting noise-making objects around your home. These could be:
• Pots • Pans • Keys • Bicycle Spokes • Windchimes
Help them arrange the materials in the backyard, or an outdoor space, for an improv family jam session! Let your child take the lead. Try adding lyrics and a few dance moves!
Next, listen to what other sounds are present outside. Try to incorporate those sounds into your backyard symphony to extend the idea of collaboration. What do you hear?
• Birds Chirping • Dogs Barking • Raindrops Falling • Neighbors Talking
Use the following tools to further support collaborative work with children.
• What do you notice about...? Show me how you...
• How did that happen? What made you think of it?
• What do you think should happen next?
• What could be added?
"I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things.” —Mother Teresa
Praise vs. Constructive Feedback
When we frame our communication with children around our noticings and appreciation of their process, we remove judgment—or the need for children to be motivated by a desire to gain our approval.
In this way, we can replace a power dynamic with a more collaborative and empowering approach in which adults and children work side by side.
Alternatives to Praise in Collaborative Dialogue:
• I notice that...
• I really appreciate how you...
• Look at how you...
• How interesting...
• Tell me more about that...
RESOURCES: Dig Deeper
Collaborate Like a Kid: What Preschoolers Can Teach Us About Adjusting to Remote Work (Article)
How to Manage for Collective Creativity
TED Talk by Linda Hill | Video: 17-Minute Listen!
A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play
By Vivian Gussin Paley: Venture inside classrooms around the globe to explore the stunningly original language of children in their role-playing & storytelling.
Black Ants and Buddhism: Thinking Critically & Teaching Differently in the Primary Grades
By Mary Cowhey: A story on collaborating to solve a problem in a second grade classroom, used as a prologue for the book Black Ants and Buddhists.
PICTURE BOOKS ON PARTNERSHIPS
These children's book titles are "teaming" with stories of collaboration! Explore the value of working together to achieve something greater:
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
A child, her waitress mother & her grandmother save dimes to buy a comfortable armchair after all their furniture is lost in a fire.
Frederick by Leo Lionni
Frederick, the creative field mouse, stores up something special for the long cold winter spent with his family.
The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
Young readers will love this lyrical, rhyming text as they watch the industrious citizens of Itching Down knead, bake & slather the biggest wasp trap there ever was!
Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery
How can a trash filled lot turn into a lush, green garden? This is the true story of how one big idea transformed an entire neighborhood.
Red Knit Cap Girl by Naoko Stoop
With the help of their forest friends, Red Knit Cap Girl & White Bunny, who are on a quest to find a way to talk to the Moon, learn that they need only to wait & listen quietly to make their wish come true.
Regards to the Man on the Moon by Ezra Jack Keats
With the help of his imagination, his parents & a few scraps of junk, Louie & his friends travel through space.
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
A hill covered with rocks & wooden boxes becomes an imaginary town for Marian, her sisters & their friends.
Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth
Three wise monks playfully trick a frightened community into finding happiness by teaching them the magic of generosity.