Using Provocations with “Ping” by Ani Castillo


I recently visited a Kindergarten classroom, where the teacher wanted some support in exploring the “C” of Citizenship, more specifically empathy and kindness with her learners.  As a former high-school English teacher, Kindergarten is a relatively new place for me but I knew I needed take a more visual and hands on approach to discussing the concept of citizenship.  I decided to create a pictorial definition for Citizenship, that we could revisit daily to keep our memories fresh. It didn’t take long before the students were able to convey that Citizenship means being able to have love in your heart and to take care of animals, the earth and other people.

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Prior to the read aloud, with explored the provocation, which was a jar of ping pong balls, many of which had smiley faces on the front and acts of kindness on the back.  These kindness Pings are an important visual in the read aloud “Ping.”  Once we had noticed and wondered about the Pings in the jar, we turned our attention to the read aloud, stopping every now and then for some turn and talk with a partner.  A quick wrap up conversation at the end of the read aloud confirmed that the Kinders totally understood that to “ping” is to show kindness.


Fast forward to two days later, and we started our lesson with a reminder of our definition of Citizenship. Then, we took a closer look at the jar of Pings only to realize that some of the Pings had gone missing!  As a group we explored the classroom, looking for and collecting the missing PINGS.  As students found a Ping, they returned it to me and we placed it in a basked for later.

14 Pings later, we returned to the carpet and handed out the Ping Counters, which were laminated 10 frames on a clipboard.  As a group we pulled each Ping out of the basket, counted it, and added the number to our ten frame.  I placed each counted Ping on the floor, in the same approximate location as it would be on their 10 frame.  The teacher and I gave quick mini lessons on the shape and placement of the numbers that proved trickier (those double digits 😉 ) We found that doing this counting as a group gave the teacher immediate feedback as to which Kinders might need more support with writing their numbers.  After we counted all the Pings (forwards and backwards), we turned them over to talk about the different examples of kindness that were written on the back.  Some of the kindnesses we practiced right away (give someone a high five, compliment/cheer on a classmate) and others I hinted we’d be visiting later.  We ended by encouraging the students to practice  kindness Pings at home over the week end.

In the next post, bringing a kindness Ping to life. . .


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