"I want no visitors in my fairy house. I need another piece of paper."
The children are asked to draw their plans for their dens/forts/treehouses/fairy houses before building them. Taking the time to draw and think about their structures before they build provides a platform for contemplation...What will I use? If they are asked to draw after a building session, it gives them an opportunity for reflection...What did I accomplish?
If you look at this child's drawing (below) you will see a drawing that is very much an expression of her ideas for building a house with a sign, "No." She later asked me for a piece of paper. She wrote "NO" on it and placed it in the doorway of her house. She said, "This is my welcome mat."
Other children had to make signs as well. Children, surrounded by a labeled world, feel compelled to make their own labels. This is an important component of learning to write.
We have paper and drawing materials in every space including outside in the playground. We carry drawing materials with us on field trips. If the children want to document their constructions, things they have seen or are thinking, make signs, or send messages, they can find and bring piece of paper and pencil to where they are playing. Draw. Label. Document. It builds the BIG IDEA of reading and writing.
Below are the results of the contemplation. The children used the objects in the classroom in a new and different way. One child used the chairs for a fairy soldier house. Another child paused before entering the fairy house under the table, clearly marked as it was with its, "NO" sign. The last photo shows a rite of passage--being able to open Mrs. Prohaska's suitcase by yourself. Big moments in fine motor development related to expressing and accessing ideas.