During a pandemic or a natural disaster such as the Oregon Wildfires, families face a lot of uncertainty.
Through playfulness, children can practice feeling comfortable with being uncomfortable.
In this story, Opal Beginning School Teacher-Researcher Caroline Wolfe shares an interaction from her kitchen and offers a favorite family game (our @Home Experience) which activates certainty then playfully disrupts it.
Beyond the Grilled Cheese
Recently I overheard my 80-something-year-old mother-in-law and my 21-year-old daughter talking in the kitchen. My daughter was making a grilled cheese sandwich using bread, cheese, and mayonnaise (the ingredients available at the time).
I listened as my mother-in-law marveled at this novel idea: A grilled cheese made without butter.
I noticed how her curiosity kept her open to thinking about this new recipe, despite making hundreds of grilled cheese sandwiches in her lifetime. I thought, with admiration, how she was letting go of certainty, and modeled being open to a new idea.
I was struck by her curiosity, which led her away from any prior notion that butter is an essential grilled cheese ingredient. (Later, I found out that she made herself a grilled cheese with mayo the next day!)
I wondered, what experiences has my mother-in-law had that nurtured and sustained this curious and open mindset of a lifelong learner?
It was a sweet moment of little consequence, yet it holds so much meaning for me. It nudged me to reflect, with regret, on my own interactions with children and adults, where I’ve chosen to cling to my assumptions, missing an opportunity to be challenged and grow my thinking.
And I reflected on the times when I’ve practiced pushing aside my assumptions, beliefs, biases or desire to be right, in order to create space for growth—for new ideas, experiences, perspectives, and relationships to emerge.
As I consider what conditions support me to be able to stay curious, and out of a place of certainty, think of the children and the conditions that we hope to create in our learning communities.
Opal School Teacher-Researcher Caroline Wolfe.
Each school day, we see children’s curiosity come to life in many ways. Yet, it is not uncommon to also hear fixed thinking bubble up, too.
It might sound like, “That’s wrong,” or “That’s not how you do it." Or a child may reveal a current assumption, such as, “Blue is a boy color." We see these moments as essential learning opportunities to support a child to practice being curious and receptive to new input.
Lead with Imagination: By playing together in the classroom or at home, and "bumping" into different ideas, we hope to grow our understanding about the many ways of being in this world.
The game What Else Could It Be? invites children to practice an open mindset. In this game, there is no right or wrong...just endless possibility!
Here's How to Play:
- Draw a familiar shape, such as a circle.
- Or hold a familiar object, such as a block.
- Invite children (or caregivers) to see the object in another way.
- Ask, “What else could it be?”
- Honor all answers, highlighting connections & differences.
READING TO REIMAGINE
Children benefit from looking beyond the “right” answer to predict many possiblities. Also explore our Resilience Reads for stories of hope & strength during adversity.
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
Jessica the frog befriends the animal that hatches from an egg, thinking it is a chicken.
Fortunately by Remy Charlip
Each positive note in Ned's morning is countered with an unfortunate, nearly disastrous moment.
"I want to know, what are all of the perspectives?" —Pascale, age 9
Look! Look! Look! by Tana Hoban
Photographs of familiar objects are first viewed through a cut-out hole, then in their entirety.
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
A girl with an imagination learns about the importance of never giving up on yourself.
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen
A story of looking for the extraordinary—and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.
Zoom by Istvan Banyai
Zoom around the world through this wordless book. Think you know where you are? Guess again!