I think I mentioned in a previous post that we have been having a problem with lashing out. It has been apparent since the start of the school term, and I really want to find a way of helping L and N to stop and think of alternative ways of solving problems, and dealing with angry feelings.
Sticker charts are becoming tired in our house. I for one am bored of them. L and N always seem to have a sticker chart for something, and they have lost their novelty and I think their impact. I wanted something new, since this is an important issue and dealing with it now will be important for years to come.
What we settled on in the end was this:
A “kind hands” tree on the wall at home, as a way of tying in our autumn crafts with the reminders that hitting is not acceptable. The “kind hands” idea seems to be a concept used in the foundation stage curriculum and it seems like a good idea to me that school and home take the same approach on this.
I also hoped that if the children made the tree together they might feel pride in it and ownership of it, which might help them engage with the idea. But mainly, I wanted this to be a positive, playful and fun activity, not something that reminds L and N of a telling off. We approached this as celebrating our kind hands and all the things they can do.
We cut the tree out of cardboard, and painted it brown. Then we made a list of things we do with our kind hands.
L and N came up with the list themselves. L already seemed familiar with the idea of “kind hands” and talked about surprising his teacher with what he had done, so I am obviously right in thinking this might link school and home nicely for him. N quickly got the idea and she loves to help with jobs, so both children made handprints on card, then wrote their ideas alongside (L all by himself, N used our favourite highlighter trick to trace the letters).
Whilst we do love the messy play aspect of hand-printing, I also really like these sponge pads which allow L and N to handprint independently sometimes, without too much of a major clean-up operation afterwards. These were a present, but are from Asda.
Even baby F got her turn at making handprints, since this is supposed to be a whole-family project (reinforcing that we all use kind hands, adults included), although I confess to having helped her with the writing 😉
We have quite a collection of autumn leaves by now, and we painted some with watercolours the other day (I love the idea of using natural materials for the autumn theme as well as using new materials to make art), so we used these for the tree. The children were quite creative, using the natural markings of the leaf to decorate different areas and selecting their colours very carefully. N wanted brightly coloured leaves, L went for natural autumn colours. I loved the sensory element of painting on leaves and they looked beautiful. The natural autumn colours showed through the watercolour paint, which just tinted the leaves, and the effect was lovely. I love it when simple activities turn out to be so special.
F enjoyed playing with the leaves while we painted, crinkling and feeling them. When she had had enough, we sat her by the window to look at the leaves outside. I really enjoyed being able to include her in the fun at her own level.
L and I laminated the leaves (he LOVED this part, and even made up a song about laminating – yes, really!), and the idea is that we stick a leaf on the tree when the children do something special, helpful or positive with their kind hands. Laminating allows us to write on the leaves and makes them re-usable.
So far, the tree seems to be quite motivating. They love sticking their own leaves on the tree. I love the fact that it fits in with our autumn play, learning about the seasons, that it transcends the gap between home and school, and that we had so much fun making it. There were so many sensory elements to this that it ended up being great fun and a brilliant if late start to autumn play!