Nov 30th (written, but not posted up): This was my understanding about 21 days ago.....
Recently, I had to watch this two-hour long of video on event based play. This takes place in an Australian community children's centre, which is a collaboration of both the school as well as Childhood Education lecturers from University of Southern Queensland.
When I first watched the video, I had a hard time trying to understand what was going on. The children (4-6 year olds) were moving from place to place and it was hard to see what they were doing. Basically, that first clip was just to give an overall view of what was happening in that particular point of time.
Although it seemed to be, the children were actually doing their own thing in the midst of the hustle and bustle. Although they were doing their own thing and it seemed as though the teachers were not watching, it was revealed in the later part of the show that this was part of their learning process.
The particular kindergarten has spaces where children could move into "spaces" that were divided and the children themselves decide what they want to do with the space, and how they want use the space, (except for certain set designated areas, mainly the "making centers", where children find resources to construct materials for their games, the "circle time" area, and others. Not too sure, as this was not stated).
Among some of the games that I found most interesting was the "Cinderella" game, where the children decided (actually it was just one girl- the one who played Cinderella) who directed the whole thing, from who should play the main characters, and designated the roles to each one, to decorating the "teater" to "making the popcorn", to "inviting people to come watch the play".
You would think that without the teacher instructing, the children would not know what to do, but it was the children who decided how they wanted to do, (from preparing the backdrop, the flowers, "the popcorn", and inviting people to come watch the "play").
The other was this group of boys who were working on this "dinosaur garden" for a couple of days...Ok, that totally didn't interest me, as I am so not interested in dinosaurs, but the video means to show the progress of how the children developed their ideas for the dinosaur garden. They went about creating "towers" using paper rolls and tape, clay dinosaurs and painting them (and then waiting for it to dry), and how they added it to the play.
This went on for a couple of days (about two weeks, but I am not too sure about the duration though).
At the end of the day, the children will come into the "circle time" areas, and then discuss with the teacher and other children on what they have done, (that is their game), and how they can further scaffold or extend their games. The teacher will ask questions to the children such as,
1. Do you want to continue with this game?
2. Is there anything else they would need to extend to make/provide for the game, please ask the teachers for the resources.
3. If there is a play, who will take turns to be the "main character" for that day? If there are 3 people who wants to play "Cindrella", how will they solve the problem?
The main thing about the whole process is that, the teacher's role is as the facilitator, as well as a questioner. If she sees the children "managing the areas" in a way which may not be efficient, she would question them, but she would not tell them what to do. The end decision lies with the children, so that they are the ones who make the decisions themselves. Notice the teacher does not give the answers, but expect the children to discuss this among themselves.