Finding that fine line between setting something up that is exciting and interesting for your child ( or students ) and letting go of how they decide to use it can be hard. You envision this awesome idea but when you let go of it and they dive in they don’t always use it the way you intended. Maybe they spend a fraction of the amount of time you expect them to on it. Maybe they turn it into a completely new idea. Or maybe they ignore it completely. Don’t sweat it.
Let them create their own experience and let go of your expectations. Observe and see what they are learning from how they have decided to play with the materials you have put on the tray. I imagined wonderfully patterned Easter eggs like ones she’d been drawing for days before I created this Easter egg play dough for her. Instead what she learned was that if you dip and roll the play dough in the collage materials, they stick. I think her lesson was a lot more exciting.
The white Easter egg play dough was next. When she didn’t do it at all I asked her why. “I am leaving it for you”. So I made it the way I wanted to now that it was my turn. She praised me after noticing my patterns. She still got the lesson about patterns I was angling for and one about me trusting her choices. When we follow their leads not only do they have more fun but they learn we trust their choices and value their ideas. There will be times when we chose to push ahead with our plan for the activity but when you don’t have to be inflexible I encourage you to throw the plan and sit back and watch.