sophia's train

The Middle
It was a new school year. In my class of four-year-olds, we had just started using the term "Plan" to think out our independent work.

Planning is a beginning for children to articulate an area of the classroom that they'd like to work, perhaps some materials with which they'll start their plan, and perhaps a concept already in mind ("I want to make a castle with blocks in the block area").

Children can change their Plan, their materials, and area in which they play any time they want - ideally, though, they will articulate that they are changing ("I am done in the block area - I want to plan to use the magnets with Alison in the science area").

Since we had been together as a new class group for only a few weeks, the teachers did not expect in depth plans at this point. More so, we wanted the term 'Plan' to begin to be incorporated into our shared language in class.

This day with Sophia in the art area turned out to be a special day to observe a very focused child who was already comfortable with supplies and - most definitely - had a Plan.

This story is from many years ago and I have shared it whenever I have talked with new teachers about listening and documentation:
The Upper Left Corner

I find Sophia working in the Art Area during the early morning work time. I see that she is working quite intently with her markers and crayons, having already done some cutting and careful application of red and blue tape around her work.

I am curious about her focus and also wonder about the one small piece of red tape in the middle.

The Bottom Right Corner
As I approach her, I ask Sophia about her work, wondering out loud about her tape and the interestingly cut paper...

"Oh, yes," remarks Sophia, "I had thought a lot about this before I did it.

I cut it like this to make a tunnel.
You see? The tape around the sides is the tunnel part. And the black circle coming through is the train. 

"It is a train coming through a tunnel.
The red tape in the middle is the light you see when you see it coming straight through."
"It is a train coming through a tunnel." sophia, 4yo.
Understand that this is the amazing part about working with young children.
You must listen to them and give them their time and let them teach you.
They always have so much to teach you.
As soon as Sophia explained to me about her train,
the only thought that entered my mind was... 

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