Snow and problem solving.

So we had snow. Nearly an inch of snow. For us this is almost blizzard conditions. The children were extremely excited, there must be a snow day! Despite a group text saying that the school was open parents still phoned to ask.

It was the teacher leading assembly’s fault. They had planned an assembly involving “Do You Want To Build a Snowman?” and the snow duly obliged as if by magic.

It’s fascinating stuff snow, even as adults there is a slight buzz of excitement that white, fluffy precipitation is falling from the sky. I still remember being taught that no two snow flakes are the same and trying to catch them on a duffel coat sleeve and examine them under a magnifying glass before they melted. This was surely learning although maybe not specifically addressing points in the National Curriculum (not that there was one when I was at school).

The children seemed to fall into 2 camps – those who couldn’t wait to get out into it, feel it, build with it, throw it, lie in it and those who liked to watch from inside as it was cold and wet outside. We could almost tell which children would be in which group by the attitudes of the parents as they came to school – those who all arrived in wellies and those who arrived asking at Sam and Jim be allowed to stay in as they had colds/ got chilblains/ had poor circulation. The parental attitude was almost exactly mirrored initially by the children. We decided that giving classes a short time to go out and experience the snow (saying play was just a little step too far) and some raced whooping and squealing outside whilst others were more cautious. A short time into the snowman competition that developed even the more timid ones had decided that they wanted to go out for a little while.

Next half term as a school we will be looking at problem solving and I think the snow showed some of the attitudes that we will see – some will race off loving the challenge, the freedom, the chance to experiment. Some will be told by parents that they weren’t very good at maths and this will rub off on the children. Some will not have really experienced this before and will need the encouragement of the others to take those first tentative steps. Just as in the snow there will be falls, problems, slips, things that put them off but equally just like the snow they will grow to love it despite of the pitfalls and will learn to be excited when they see it. They will want to experience the challenge, the joy that overcoming the difficulties can bring.

To help the staff understand more about problem solving we will be paired up each week with a friend using a names out of the hat system. We will have a problem to solve – a different type each week. We will be able to explain our approaches, the problems we encountered, how it made us feel. Personally I’m looking forward to it but I know that this may put me slightly out of my comfort zone but hey, you can’t make a proper snowman without getting freezing fingers so I guess it’s all just part of the process.

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Snow and problem solving.

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