Recently I purchased this inspiring book Loose Parts by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky. The pictures are visually stunning and every page is an inspiration for early childhood education. In one of the chapters there were colorful hangers hanging from a tree branch outside. I had the exact same hangers sitting in my closet (I had them hanging inside earlier in the year and then put them away to rotate the materials in the room). I was excited to bring them out again and see how the children would use them outdoors. I found a tree branch and hung the hangers, making sure I had lots of extra hangers on the ground for the children to explore further with.
At first they couldn’t understand why hangers were outside and not inside. They asked what they could do with them. I answered, “anything you’d like!”
A discussion began about how to attach them to the fence. They quickly figured it out..
At one point they wanted to build it up and over the fence to the other side. (The idea was tossed around but they gave up on the collaboration and decided to rock climb instead).
Later a younger child came over to investigate. He wanted to take all the hangers down from the tree. Not for any reason, just because he wanted to and no one told him he couldn’t.
Soon he realized he could not reach them all. He looked to me for help. I said, “what could you do?” He said, “I know” and ran to get a stepping stool.
This stool wasn’t high enough to get them all. Three stools later (and a little help from me) goal achievedl!
I loved his thought process and how he figured out how to get taller each time he couldn’t reach! In this case hangers represented collaboration between friends, cause and effect (how to get from the tree to the fence) and problem solving. It also allowed the children the freedom to create from something they see everyday hanging in their closet.