In the afternoon the older group carried out some projects that were peer led and facilitated. This has been a great way to develop leadership qualities as well as improve group dynamics. One day “I” set out many different items and asked if they could be used to create something as a group. We talked about the different items that could be used and ones that couldn’t and why. I offered some other materials similar to the ones chosen and a project was born. Once the other children arrived in the room I informed the children that “I” had thought of a project for us all to work on as a collective and let her take it from there. She was able to lead the group with teacher guidance when needed. It was beautiful to see the children work together, look to another child to lead, and encourage each other. While the project did not turn into the working helicopter that they had first imagined it was the process that was truly magical.
I: “Me and Z’s is the main part. My crayon will draw the thing we are going to head into. This part is the small finding place, like if we find a small pocket watch or a phone that still works! The stick part tells you when danger is coming. We put a bell right here and it will mean we’re in danger.”
K: “It’s a propeller for the side, like to spin on the side because “I” said that was a good idea.
Children were able to use their prior knowledge to offer ideas to better the project.
R: “I am going to make a gas tank. Actually I am going to make as many as I can so we can go really far.”
Z: “ Maybe that could be a computer P!” P: “Yeah!!”
Another peer led project began with K asking if I would learn how to make a specific origami flower she had made at home and teach the other children to make them. She kept meaning to bring the one she created in so I could see what she had in her mind and she would keep forgetting. One day after about a week of her talking about it I set out a bunch of different types of origami paper and asked her to take the lead on teaching her friends how to make the flower. K jumped right in to the leading role in such a gentle and kind way. She was comfortable sharing her ideas. Two other children, M and R, decided to join her. It was beautiful to see the other children listening so intently and asking clarifying questions.
As the school year continues I plan to offer more opportunity for peer originated, led, and facilitated projects. There are so many wonderful benefits to this approach. The development of social skills, conflict resolution, teamwork, confidence, leadership, interdependence, and independence are abound here at Catskill Wheelhouse!