At ETC, our number one rule is: Have fun! We always write it first AND last because it’s that important. In June, I led the first camp of the summer, ETC Beginnings: Animal Tails. ETC Beginnings or “ETCB” is for the youngest side of the 3 to 103 that we teach at ETC. I wanted to kick of the summer with lots of fun in store for this eager group of preschoolers.
Freeze Dance with Bubbles! Parachute games! Finger Painting! How can you squeeze the most fun into one week?
We used our imaginations to travel to the beautiful Lake Nyasa in Tanzania with the help of Clever Tortoise by Francesca Martin. We used lots of “props” to help build the world: hula hoops, some fabric, and tape brought the setting of the story to life.
Hula hoops can represent rocks on the edge of the lake, green fabric can represent a shady grassy spot for a nap, a tunnel tube can represent a river flowing to the lake. We built our environment together, remembering places from the book, and the students helped me decide where to lay all the materials for our setting.
Start with Play
Throughout the week, we acted out dozens of animals with our bodies. I loved using I’ve Got Feet!: Fantastical Feet of the Animal World as a tool to get these animal characteristics in our bodies. Pretending to be animals is fun and something most children love to do. We started acting out any animals we liked, and then incorporated specific animals that will be characters in the story. I started each activity with the idea of play, and then thought over how I can use the activity to support the week’s theme and help students perform for their parents.
Emphasizing kindness and sharing is essential to creating a collaborative and safe environment. When “I need” statements came up in art, I asked students to problem-solve and encouraged sharing. Throughout the week, I saw a group of students playing together and taking care of one another. Those are the building blocks to create a play as well as a better world!