This idea comes from what was an attempt at distraction/substitution and has become a vast learning experience! I love happy little surprises like this one.
My toddler recently became obsessed with turning light switches on ... and off ... on ... and off. She'd scoot a stool or turn over a basket to be able to reach the switch. Much "fun" was being had and maybe a little learning, too ... on and off are opposites, right?
Of course, there were multiple times when she fell off the stool or basket. And daddy wasn't thrilled with the idea of "playing with electricity." We needed a compromise. We needed something that could be turned on and off. We needed a flashlight!
Brilliant, I know ;) It took some time for NHV to figure out how to use this switch but she was pleased that it had the same effect ... on ... off ... on ... off. Of course, that only lasted for about a minute. And then she started seeing the true potential of this light source. It can be directed and shined (is that a word?) on all kinds of surfaces. This light travels all around the room. It can move fast or slow. You can see it better when the other lights are off. Every minute there was a new idea ... you could just about see a little light bulb over her head :)
Not wanting to be left out of this fun learning experience, mommy got involved and brought in some vocabulary practice.
I asked her to point the light at ...
- objects like the floor, the ceiling, the TV, the clock, the door knob, ...
- body parts like mommy's belly and her own belly button (that was a huge hit) - but not people's eyes!
And then we practiced shapes by hunting around the house with our flashlight.
Find the ...
- circle (clock, door knob, ball, Louie's cat toy, ... )
- rectangle (TV, book, drawer, cabinet door, ... )
- triangle - this one was just too hard
We went to her new big girl room and shined the like on all the owls we could find. I used the light to point to each of the letters in her name as she said the letters aloud.
Finally, I kept the lights dimmed in her room, and we read a story by flashlight. I could shine the light on certain parts of the illustrations and ask questions. I moved the light across the text as I read. My toddler loved it all!
Teacher Thoughts: This was discovery learning at its finest. I intended for the flashlight to be a substitute for the light switch, but in the hands of a toddler, it became so much more! I was just watching a PBS program on "open-ended" learning, and this was a powerful testament to impact of giving ownership to the learner. "Opening" the door to what a toddler can do with an everyday object.
When I think about learning, I always think about modality - how is the learning being "sensed" - seeing, hearing, touching. The flashlight covers all three modalities ... NHV was taking in the world through her eyes (enhanced by the use of light), through her ears (following directions and making observations), and through her sense of touch (by holding the flashlight and using motor skills to direct the beam).