Coolidge Kindergarten Features Tinkering 

Coolidge Kindergarten Features Tinkering

Kindergarten students in Kristen Kietur’s classroom are more likely to be wearing goggles lately, than spending time on Google. In a school district rich with examples of educational technology, the goggles reflect the District’s focus on play and exploration for the youngest learners, which is inspired by an educational philosophy called Reggio Emilia.

The goggles in Kietur’s room must be worn at the new Tinkering Table where hammers, nails, screwdrivers, nuts, and bolts are capturing students’ interest and imagination.

“They’re just having fun pulling out nails and using nuts and bolts,” says the 24-year veteran Coolidge teacher. 

Kietur says her husband Tom’s carpentry skills have brought a number of her classroom ideas to life, including the Tinkering Table, a weaving table, a pegboard of colorful golf tees that can be arranged to create art, and another pegboard where students stretch rubber bands among the pegs to write their names or just create what she calls “a mishmash.”

“I feel like the sky’s the limit,” says Kietur. “I want to expose my students to things that people don’t think a five-year-old can do.”

Her innovations are used primarily during the daily half hour known as Exploration when students are empowered to choose which activities they wish to do. The stations on a given day might include math, language arts, painting, a light table, the Tinkering Table, or the Discovery Table. This last spot is where students might be asked, for example, to build a home of their own design for a toy penguin using marshmallows, styrofoam, and glue.

The opportunity to choose and to explore new things has brought impressive results. “We’re seeing independence in students and belief in themselves and they’re not looking for constant approval from an adult,” says Coolidge Principal Rob Famularo. “They are not looking to see what the right answer is that the teacher wants. When you create that environment, things happen that are unexpected. You learn things about a student that you would not have seen otherwise.”

Kietur says Exploration time also has a positive carryover effect: students are more able to sit quietly and read later in the day because they know the next morning will bring another opportunity to choose a fun activity

Parents also praise the experiential learning happening in Kietur’s classroom and the classrooms of Laurie Semendinger and Jen Britting, Coolidge’s two other kindergarten teachers. “Everyone has bought in,” says Famularo. “Everyone is so complimentary.”

Kietur, meanwhile, keeps looking for the next new activity to put in front of her students. “Amazon Prime is my best friend and my worst enemy,” she jokes, explaining that she gets ideas and then whips up a new activity because it’s so easy to get materials via two-day free delivery. “I’m enjoying it. I feed off the kids. One kid told me ‘You come up with the best ideas.’”

Posted by thomas.deloughry On 11 February, 2020 at 3:24 PM  

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