Our pre-kindergarten students see mistakes as opportunities for creative thinking.
A fresh piece of watercolor paper awaits the artist’s first mark. Another student bumps the table. A splash of yellow paint arcs across the clean, white surface. The artist’s face begins to crumple, but a friend quickly exclaims “That’s ok, it can be a Beautiful Oops!” Both children grin and wonder, “What can we turn it into?” In a flash, the yellow splash is transformed into the curve of a vibrant rainbow.
What is a Beautiful Oops? Inspired by Barney Saltzberg’s interactive picture book, our pre-kindergarten students are working to develop a practice of seeing mistakes as opportunities for creative thinking. This resilient mindset stretches beyond creative projects; it has practical applications as well. When our classroom laundry got washed with a green crayon, we didn’t despair over our bespeckled items but decided that a dyeing project was in order. Our white laundry is now much more cheerful thanks to a happy accident.
Research tells us that resilience, flexibility, and problem-solving skills translate into confident, competent, and connected children. Students using these strategies are more able to navigate unexpected twists and turns of life, both in and out of the classroom.
The Beautiful Oops framework offers a new way to approach challenges. When a plan isn’t as successful as we initially hoped, we reflect on our experience and decide what we might do differently in the future. If a peer interaction goes awry, we approach it as an opportunity to learn from. Not sure if we know the answer to a question posed in class? No worries! Our classroom — our entire school — is a place where children are encouraged to stretch beyond their comfort zone, a place where it is safe to take an academic risk, a space to make a new friend, try a new game, or share for the first time in front of our entire school community at All School Morning Meeting.
This mindset isn’t established overnight. In pre-kindergarten, we use the idea of a Beautiful Oops to plant a seed to be nurtured and reinforced during our year together and beyond. Onward with the Oops! And onward with resilient, adaptable, persistent children!