It’s the beginning of another day at the Children’s Farm, and the children are carrying buckets to feed animals, pushing wheelbarrows of hay to hungry calf and goats, and finishing up by watering animals who ”look like they need some water in their dishes…??” as the teachers prompt the eager children to check out the needs of the animal they just fed.
Some people have finished, and a teacher pulls the little kitten bed out of the chicken coop. Kids come over a few at a time to inspect the new babies. “They’re adorable,” They’re so little”, “Can I pick one up?”
“Well,” says the teacher, “we’d better just pet them with one finger. We want them to learn to like us so a gentle pet works. Besides, your whole hand is so big, it might scare them!” Hmmmm…. wheels turn as kids realize that, yes, I really am big compared to these little kittens, so I’ll just pet carefully.
Still, the temptation to use the whole hand is strong,..’”Oh, remember, make a fist, just one finger so you’re not scary.” Ah, right, I’ll have to control my urge to just hug and squeeze this kitten, thinks the child.
“Sara, “ can you show Mimi how to do it carefully?”, asks the teacher. Hmm, I can show her how to do it, I’m good at this, thinks Sara.
“Let’s see, you’re petting the gray and white one, Mimi is petting the orange one. I’ll just move them over a little bit so you can each reach them safely,” the teacher explains as she budges them apart (with one finger).
The children pet, describe, count and share ideas for a few minutes. Gradually the kittens wiggle back together. “They’re sleeping on each other! “ describes one delighted observer.
“Teacher, they didn’t listen to you, “ (when you described how you were moving them apart so we could all reach them, was the conclusion of little Sara. )
“Hmm, responds the teacher, + do you think they understood?” Hmmm….
Now the other teacher is calling people to meet at the haystack. “I’ll need a little help with this box” says the teacher. Four children eagerly grab a side and together they push it back into the pen.
“That was easy with all of us, wasn’t it? Thank you!” says the teacher, and they’re off to play and learn together on the blacktop.
At the Children’s Farm we see the kitten holding activity as a great opportunity for perspective taking, self control and learning to be caring, as well as a social learning activity for new children to learn from new peers and to gain confidence in their ability to talk, think and work together. Thank you, Gloria and Patches, for the timely new batches of kittens.
PS. And 3 plus 5 really does make 8!!!