I hope your entry into 2023 has been smooth!
After 2 blogs talking about flex and stuck, this time, let’s consider how we can support our students in building their flexibility. Remember, both flexibility and inflexibility reflect continuums – not static points. Depending on what’s happening and how we are feeling, there can be small (or large) shifts in the degree to which we exhibit flex or stuck at any particular moment. Often, it’s all those feelings and thoughts that accompany being flexible that many of our student find challenging.
⬇️ Here are some activities to help your students explore and practice flex in 2023! ⬇️
I find previewing activities to be so important. Outlining the activity, obviously, but also the feelings that may arise, as well as strategies that might come in useful.
1. BUILDING ACTIVITIES: Building together can be challenging. Sharing materials and space, having different ideas of what to build, dealing with frustration if/when things fall down – with all this going on, building is great practice in flexibility.
Painter’s tape can help! Make tape building spaces for each student so they each have their own space.
Allow enough room for there to be a collaborative building space. If/when students are ready, they can move out of their “box” to work with others.
Students who stay in the safety of their box can see other students collaborating – lots can be learned from observing others!
2. TABLETOP GAMES: Sometimes our students just need to “put a toe in the water.” A time when we clinicians find our flex, and make a deal. Here’s one scenario in the Tuesday Tip reel below ⬇️ (hope you check it out!)
Two 4th grade students did NOT want to play Rhino Hero – spoiler alert, the red and blue dice have different values on them. This had frustrated them the week before.
But we had talked about strategies, and I felt they could tolerate re-visiting the activity if we previewed carefully.
THE DEAL: play for only 5 minutes, then knock it down and I will film in slo-mo. They readily agreed to that. Guess what? They played, they tolerated the dice, they had fun and they had an experience of flex. And we made a great video. A win all around! 🎉
3. CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: Many of my students love construction activities. Any many of my students struggle with collaborative construction activities, often because of the flexibility that is often called for. Recognizing that “friends have good ideas too,” remembering to strive for “calmly being kind,” and dealing with the frustrations of things not working or falling apart, all combine to construction projects super popular with my elementary through young adult groups.
Experiment with the size of the group – 2 might be just the right size – 4 might result in chaos. It’s okay to break larger groups into smaller groupings to maximize the likelihood of success.
In addition to previewing, have supportive VISUALS at the ready – for construction projects I often have my Stuck Fixers propped up nearby to deal with frustrations. Here’s another reel example with one of my favorite materials, Gravitrax:
Sometimes it’s difficult to stay flexible over time. Experiment with the length of time your students work on a project. Check in with them – I often use a “thumb’s up”- “thumb’s down”- “thumb’s to the side” quick judgement to get a sense of how the group is doing. Be ready to step in to support as needed – sometimes progress comes bit-by-bit!