I use toys as a tool to teach music to children. Some toys I bought, others were donated. Over the years, I have amassed a decent size collection of toys. These toys include Transformers, Dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, My Little Ponies, Thomas the Train etc.
I have a collection of My Little Ponies – Fluttershy, Applejack, Rarity, Twilight Sparkle etc. I consider them my ‘Precious’ because of the time I took to squat in the corridors of Toys R Us and massaging the blind bags to guess what pony was in each blind bag that I was holding! I got 24 ponies in my collection. You can imagine how proud I am of my collection.
I use these ponies from time to time to have a child practice a certain task. When the child accomplishes the task, I allow the child about a minute or so to play with the toy during class. That playtime also serves as a good breakaway from the intense practice that the child had to do to accomplish the task well.
One day, there was this kid I was working with. She did not want to learn a new rhythm. All my teaching tricks were not getting the result I desired. She was still reluctant to practice clapping the ‘torturous’ rhythmic pattern.
Suddenly, an idea came. I was aghast when it came, but instinct has taught me to trust whatever idea that floats into my mind while I was teaching.
Me: Would you like to take home my pony and take care of it for a week? You can play with it for a week and bring my pony back home next time I see you for class.
Kid (without hesitation): YES!
Me: Clap the rhythmic pattern 5 times and you win the pony for a week.
The kid agreed and clapped the rhythmic pattern. It was inaccurate.
Me: Well done! That’s one time out of 5! Now, let’s clap it this way.
(and I demonstrated the correct claps)
The kid clapped the rhythmic pattern and by the time it was the fifth tryout, she was able to clap the pattern accurately.
She won the pony!
What was in my mind? ARGHHH!!! What if she lost the pony? What if she disfigured the pony?
She was so pleased with her accomplishment and left my studio with such a big smile, that I decided to ignore my fear of losing my toy. It was worth the experience of having the child come out of her comfort zone and believe that she was well-able to learn something new.
Still, I better go lock my LEGO toys in a cupboard and throw the keys away.