When K-1 Turned Into Event Planners
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose” – Dr. Seuss
Event planning as an assignment can be both exciting and challenging. It holds innumerable opportunities to learn how to work with others, get organised, communicate effectively and take ownership and initiative. This is why we thought it would be interesting to bring this multifaceted task into the K-1 classrooms at Toddler’s Den.
The engagement was planned as part of the unit of inquiry on Family and Friends. The central idea was that our relationships with family and friends contribute to shaping our identity under the transdisciplinary theme: Who We Are. The aim was to provide children an opportunity to explore why we celebrate different kinds of events with loved ones. It was all about sharing their experiences and learning more about each other’s lives.
This blog post will take you on a journey of discovering how the enterprising young learners of K-1 Octo engaged with the exciting prospect of organising an event all by themselves. As an educator, I was amazed by the brainstorming, negotiation, decision-making, and planning that these young learners undertook with such ease during this engagement.
We began inquiry with an open-ended discussion about different celebrations and events which help family members to spend time together, enjoy themselves, perform their respective roles, and share responsibility. Children came to an understanding that celebrations are a great way to bring people together and nurture relationships.
The class was divided into 6 groups of 4 members each and, in order to amp up the fun quotient, we came up with quirky names for each group. Here are some observations of each group’s learning process:
Group 1: Outstanding One
Samaira, Kiaan, Karthik, and Ravya began with an animated discussion about what event they wanted to plan. After much back and forth, they finally chose to have a ‘picnic’, only to then disagree about ‘where’ they would go for the picnic. While Samaira wanted to go to the beach, Karthik preferred the mountains, Ravya wanted to enjoy herself at a garden and Kiaan wished to visit Kankaria Lake. In the end, Karthik managed to convince the team that a hill station would be most enjoyable. The next step was to decide what equipment they would need.
“We will need instruction map to find the place” said Samaira
“Macchar, Mosquito racket we need” added Kiaan and Ravya, referring to a mosquito swatting device they had seen their family members use.
Samaira wanted her pyjamas, footwear and sleeping bag, Karthik wanted his superman clothes and slippers. Ravya wanted a blanket and pillows. They were all going to carry some toys to play with and a fishing rod to go fishing. The children made the pretend fishing rods themselves using paper rolls. They also made a ‘torch’, and a ‘bus’ using cardboard, and collected sticks to make a fire. Lastly, they procured some fruit and snacks to munch on. Group 1 demonstrated how young children are capable of meaningful discussions that help them reach decisions together. They may lack the vocabulary to express themselves fully but this does not stop them from collaborating effectively.
Group 2 – Tricky Two
Vara, Vidhi, Aryan, Aarya were excited to organise a Christmas party. “We’ll get lots of gifts from Santa!” was the unanimous reasoning behind wanting to (pretend) celebrate Christmas. They crafted some stars out of glitter foam sheets, and used to paper to make Santa hats, stockings and candles. They also made some bells with paper cups and a little Christmas tree with chart paper. The children then pretended to bake some cookies and cakes for the party, and they set a festive tone by singing their favourite carol, Jingle Bells. Here, you can see that children have the incredible ability to create something out of nothing. They were able to dream ideas and put them into practice by working together.
Group 3 – Terrific Three
Trisha, Bilal, Annika, and Ayaan discovered a common love for kites and so decided to plan Uttarayan (kite-flying festival) celebrations. While Ayaan was keen on having a music system at the gathering, Bilal was most concerned about having ‘big kites!’
“I want fancy pink kites,” added Annika
”There should be jalebi and other delicious snacks,” said Trisha.
The young party planners enjoyed making paper kites of different sizes, patterns and of course, colours. They even made a firki (spool) by winding woollen thread around an old paper roll. Most notably, the children demonstrated their practical thinking and presence of mind by noting that would need sunglasses and hats to protect themselves from the heat while flying kites. The magic of the primary years program is that while allowing children to own their learning, we can seamlessly find opportunities for integration. Here we were able to integrate math as children worked with different sizes and patterns of kites
Group 4 – Fantastic Four
Kyra, Riaan, Aaryana and Samaira were excited about planning a party to celebrate the traditional Indian festival of Holi.
“We will wear old clothes as they will get dirty,” noted Samaira.
“We’ll have to put oil in our hair,” said Kyra.
“We will have rain dance!” quipped Aayana.
The children collected sticks to use as the pyre for the holika dahan ritual and asked for coconut and dates for the puja ceremony. Further, since it was a pretend play activity, the children made colourful paper cutouts to represent the splashes of colour that are a ritual part of holi celebrations. The fantastic four displayed their prior knowledge and appropriate reasoning with all of their words. It was key for me to capture these and make sure we discussed them.
Group 5 – Hi-Fives
Tanay, Tanishka, Priyaan and Venya decided to plan a wedding. They initially wanted to organise it outdoors in the arena area, but then Tanay pointed out that it would be too hot under the sun.
“Ma’am we will wear nice clothes”, said Tanishka with a grin.
“We will have to call all our friends,” pointed out Tanay.
This led to a discussion about arranging parking space, food and drinks. The children then made decorations and gifts out of paper and other materials. The wedding planners demonstrated how children are always observing and learning things from their real life experiences. Children are never passive spectators, they are always absorbing and processing information about the world around them.
Group 6 – Super Six
Aarav, Amay, Maisha , Shanaya chose to plan for Diwali and made many props with clay and paper. Shanaya wanted colourful lights as decorations and gifts for family and friends.
“We want lot of candles and diyas and some pretty fireworks,” added Amay.
“We have to make Diwali sweets and snacks like laddoos,” chirped Maisha.
Aarav reminded the group that they would need colours to make traditional rangoli.
The children animatedly discussed their favourite things about Diwali as they made pretend fireworks out of paper and sweets and diyas out of clay. They decorated the classroom with lanterns that they made with coloured paper and glitter.
As an educator, it was heartening to observe children’s enthusiasm for planning the different events. As each group went about putting together the materials and arrangements for their chosen event, it was interesting to note how, even in pretend play, children give attention to detail and make creative use of the materials available to them.
Working in groups helped children to share their experiences and skills with each other. The engagement allowed them to apply and build upon their prior knowledge about festivals and celebrations. They practiced time management as well as utilisation of resources. Crafting things from paper and other easily available materials helps to foster a culture of making and encourages children to think out of the box. This lays the foundation for developing effective problem solving skills later, helping young learners grow into innovative thinkers.