When Children’s Activities Go Wrong

Updated: Mar 4

Imagine being on your first practicum at an early childhood centre. You have planned to make cooked play dough with the 4 yr. old group. All the ingredients are set out with the written lesson plan and the recipe you received in your ECE class the day before. You are feeling anxious and nervous about guiding the children through this activity. All goes well with the children adding and mixing the ingredients to the bowl. You begin to relax when you observe the children enjoying themselves. Then you start to cook the play dough and suddenly, everything goes all wrong. There is a burning smell and smoke begins to fill the kitchen area. The smoke detectors begin to sound and teachers are helping the children to evacuate. Soon after the firefighters arrive...Thankfully, everyone was safe and no damage to the centre!


The practicum student was me. This happened to me 25 years ago and I still remember this day as if it was yesterday!! If it wasn’t for the support of the other educators from the centre, I might have quit becoming an early childhood educator shortly after this disaster!


There will be times when activities for children will not work as expected. It has happened to all of us whether you have been in the field for 30 years, 10 years or it it is your first year. It can be frustrating and upsetting when an activity doesn’t go right like the cooked play dough experience or when the children are simply not interested. Don’t be hard on yourself! We all have been there! The key is to stay calm and reassess the activity. Determine why the activity didn’t work as expected. The key is to learn from experiences and how to adapt activity planning accordingly to meet the needs of the children. Seek support from other educators!


Remember we are humans first then educators. We are bound to make mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself if an activity does not go as expected. it is crucial to remember to learn when

things go wrong! Be flexible and adapt activities according to children’s interests and development. Ensure safety at all times! Children’s activities should be enjoyable for not only children , but for educators as well!!!


As for me, I never did master the skill of cooked play dough! But I do make a great ‘uncooked’ play dough!





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