Playing With POOP


While I continue to expound on my theory of play patterns and triggers, I’ve begun to look at how to use the approach to help children develop “school skills.”

I’m sure that it will come as no surprise that since I am a champion of following the lead of the child and trusting their natural proclivity of learning through play, that I look askance at the wrote-education that is all too prevalent.

Following that path, I began to look at those books and lesson plans that pair a letter with an image and a word. The child in me found those exercises repellent, and I can honestly say I have never used them in the classroom or with the children in my life. So, what is a better way?

For me, one of the talismans of learning in early childhood is laughter. While I have not seen a study that directly supports this contention, it is the logical extrapolation from the neuroscience. Thus, I always perk up when I see kids laughing. When it comes to using words, there are two types that do this, nonsense words like those used in Dr. Seuss and scatological words like poop.

Most parents tolerate the occasional bathroom humor from their kids but begin to draw the line when these are repeated incessantly much to their consternation.  I suspect this tendency to wear out the joke is one reason that teachers askew their use by children in the classroom and the loss of control that can subsequently result. But I wonder if we can’t try a few experiments to see if these can be used educationally. But why bother?

One of the things that psychology teaches us is that words with heavy emotional impact tend to be written indelibly on the brain. This suggests that a book or game that has an element that states P is for Poop will be more effective in teaching letter and sound association than P is for Puppy.

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I think it’s important that the whole lesson or book is not made up of these no-no words and that they only come up as surprises. Some of the words that I find that kids think are hilarious include the following:

  • A is for Ass
  • B is for Bugger
  • F is for Fart
  • S is for Stinky
  • And of course, P is for Poop.

Can you think of a few others?

I wonder if I can modify a set of standard blocks that have a letter on one side a word on the side and a picture on the bottom. Then I can add a few of the “naughty” blocks to make block play a whole lot better.

Can you think of other letter lessons we could “improve”?

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