A burst of sound from one foot popping a plastic packing bubble fills a gymnasium with a loud pop. Before cooperating and popping the packing bubbles together we have looked at the Cooperation poster that shows everyone focusing on the same thing. There is a feeling of equality that enhances the camaraderie of cooperation because we all know it is going to be a really fund experience working together.
We hold our feet in place and wait for my count, doing self calming deep belly button breaths to focus (www.superkidpower.org). Every child is smiling. They KNOW this is going to be an outrageously fun cooperation experience. I count to three...”.1,2,3, POP THEM”! It becomes an unforgettable Thunder in the gymnasium. They beg to 'cooperate' again.
Next we mark our bodies with heart stickers to show where we feel the good sensation of cooperating. Everyone looks around the room and sees that each person feels it in her/his own body space. Some hearts, some shoulders, some foreheads, some stomachs....all feeling the cooperative effort. Internal awareness begins to show the children where they feel good inside when they cooperate.
Another fun cooperation experience has children chomping at the bit to cooperate. I present a large drum that looks like a coffee table for Noodle Drumming. Placing uncooked curly egg noodles on the drum's center, I demonstrate with my drumstick how the noodles move in a tiny dance motion when I use my drumstick. When I drum harder, the noodles fly off the drum. At this point the children are BEGGING to cooperate. I ask them if it would be MORE fun to have several of them adding noodles so there is a big pile that can dance and fly away. They all call out, “YEAHHHHH!”
“When children begin to work on readiness tasks, cooperation can provide opportunities for sharing ideas, learning how others think and react to problems, and practicing oral language skills in small groups. Cooperative learning in early childhood can promote positive feelings toward school, teachers, and peers. These feelings build an important base for further success in school.” (Lyman, Foyle)
It is essential to take turns in groups with 25 kindergarten students (further stretching the cooperative efforts). Each child in each group followed directions with impeccable precision. We begin by gently tapping with our drumsticks while the egg noodles slowly begin to dance. When I signal to “GO FAST” there is absolutely not one ounce of hesitation! Haha Those children pound for all they are worth and begin laughing and screeching with delightfully happy faces. The egg noodles have zero chance to stay on the drum. They fly up in every direction. I praise their cooperation efforts as SUPERKIDS and express how beautifully they worked together to create such a wonderful success with Noodle Drumming.
Shaking hands and singing the Cooperation Song (Superkid Power Guidebook) brings some smiles and mighty fine hand shaking gestures – some slower, some faster, some swinging high into the air. While hand shaking, we sing:
WE'RE SHAKING HANDS.
GIVE PEACE TO THE LAND.
Our last reinforcement for our cooperative efforts was an art project. Providing art supplies (thank you to Starseed Foundation, an anonymous donor and Ashland Food Coop) that include stickers and wooden sculpted forms such as a flower, the students were divided into groups. Each child was responsible for decorating one petal and some of the flower's center. They worked in close proximity. I placed nine stickers for each child in a small plastic bag to decorate with.
In conclusion, Internal body awareness grows with a focus of emotional placement inside which supports self regulation, self calming and social emotional learning supporting character building. Having fun cooperating together reinforces a lesson not to be forgotten. Children learn that peace and successful projects need those who cooperate. Empowering Superkids to help the world be healthier is a key for success in the classroom, home and community.
Superkid Power Guidebook (Amazon) by Janai Mestrovich, M.S. Aka Grandma Boom
Superkid Power: www.superkidpower.org
Author: Lyman, Lawrence - Foyle, Harvey C.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL. https://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9211/cooperative.htm