From the Preschool Classroom at King Street Center
Written by Emily LaMothe, Preschool Teacher
Created together with Daisy Culkins and Rosie Czech, Preschool Teachers
Before re-opening our doors in mid June 2020, we knew we had to make many changes to our preschool curriculum and classroom space to incorporate new physical distancing guidelines. One of the many changes we made was using blue painters tape on the tables and floors to indicate separate play spaces within the classroom.
On the main carpeted area we have a couple large squares marked out on the carpet with blue painters tape. These blue squares indicate a play space for one child at a time, 6 feet apart.
One morning, I was sitting outside of one of these tape squares watching a child explore a basket of small animals. The child started to pull the tape up from the carpet and stick it over my hand. When he started to do this, I reminded him that, “The tape needs to stay stuck to the floor and that it helps show us where we can play in the classroom.” I also commented that we had noticed children trying to pull the tape on the floors. I thought maybe we teachers could find a way for the class to play with some tape in the classroom since they seemed so interested in the tape. I had seen a photo of an animal rescue activity and thought this might be the perfect taping opportunity for our class.
Before school the next morning the teachers taped the small plastic animals down to one of the tables with the blue painters tape, creating an animal rescue set up. Many of the kids were intrigued. This was an area where they could play with the tape — peeling and sticking to their heart’s delight and save the animals! Meanwhile, the teachers were thrilled as they were able to positively redirect their play, and at the same time, provide a fun set up involving some fine motor skills practice.
After a couple days of animal rescue play, one of the children asked why the animals were taped down to the table each morning. Rosie, one of the preschool teachers suggested that a tape monster may be visiting the classroom at night and taping the animals to the table. When Stacy, our Early Education Director came to visit at lunch time that day, one of the children updated her on the mysterious tape monster’s ways. He questioned, “Why is the tape monster doing this to our classroom?” Stacy suggested, “Why don’t you write a note to the tape monster and ask him why they are taping down the animals to the table?”
During lunchtime, I helped the child write a note to the tape monster. He offered a fun monster book suggestion for the tape monster to read and asked why the animals were taped onto the table. Of course, that night the tape monster responded with a note to the children. In the note, Tape Monster explained he taped the animals because this is how he could play with the kids! “These animals are taped because this is how I can play with YOU. How can you play with ME?” they ask in the first note. And so began the story of how the tape monster came to be a part of our preschool community this summer.
Each morning the children come to school and see a response from Tape Monster. For some children, it is the first area of the classroom they visit each morning. “Did the tape monster write back?” “What did he say?”
Each morning at breakfast, we read the note as a group, answer questions the tape monster has posed, often creating classroom graphs with our different answers. We ask questions, share ideas and practice writing a group letter back to Tape Monster (also affectionately known as TM.)
The tape monster has even helped us solve classroom problems. For example, when a child noticed some of our classroom books needed repair, we were able to talk about how to care for our classroom books. One of the kids suggested we write to Tape Monster asking for help fixing our books with all their tape!
One of the kids even started creating notes at home for TM. So the legend of tape monster is growing even beyond our classroom walls. He has become a part of our classroom.
It is amazing to us that a seemingly simple interaction with a classroom Covid-19 physical distancing adaptation that began with pulling tape from the floor has evolved into a magical learning opportunity for our class. We are excited to watch this interaction with the tape monster continue!