by Martina Werner


My 2nd practical assignment in the IHVO Certificate Course was:
– Expand your picture of the observation child with the help of the questionnaires.
– Develop a proposal from this in individual work or in a small group.
– Document the process.
– Give some perspectives on further offers and procedures.

After choosing my observation child and documenting the observations of Malte, now 5;5 years old, I anticipated the second practical task and already filled out a questionnaire with him. Since I already had ideas in my head, I discussed the selection of the children in the entire team of our kindergarten.

(I would like to note here that our kindergarten is already certified as an „Integrative Focus Kindergarten for the Advancement of Gifted Pre-School Children“, which means that our director and several colleagues have already completed the certificate course that I have now started).

We decided on four children who show characteristics that suggest higher giftedness and some of whom stand a little apart. (I then added a fifth child).

1. Malte:
Malte is currently 5;5 years old and my observation child in the certificate course. Until two months ago, he was in my group, but now he has moved to the next group because he will then be a pre-school child.
Through my intensive observations (Malte, 5;0 Years Old), I have noticed that Malte has special interests, for example, in environmental topics.

He has special problems in social interaction with other children and in conflict resolution. In my opinion, he is also partly underchallenged. I hope that the programme will offer him many interesting topics, that he will make new friends and thus expand his social skills. I will always describe him more thoroughly in between.

You can find out more about Malte here: Malte, 5;0 Years Old.

… in brief …

This article is, among other things, an advertisement for small group work! The author describes in detail how she succeeded in bringing together
five children (who are particularly eager to learn) into a group that works together on different topics over a longer period of time.
All of the children, one after the other, are given the opportunity to work on their most important interests at the time. It is shown once again in this contribution that actually quite different children work in a concentrated, persevering and socially compatible manner when they are cognitively at a similar level.

Moreover, this is where the practical support of a „difficult“ boy (Malte) begins.
Hanna Vock

2. Pascal:
He is 4;10 years old and was in the group together with Malte. He has also switched to the next group of older children. He stands out because of his motor deficits and speech problems in the form of stuttering. He has no firm friends, but likes to play with children who are not as wild as he is. He has little self-confidence in his activities. Despite his stammer, he never ceases to amaze me with his rhyming skills, his unusual vocabulary or his ability to recognise and name letters from advertising posters even as he passes by on the bus. He cannot yet write them because of his motor difficulties.
He also amazes me again and again in other cognitive areas, for example with small arithmetic problems that he solves in his head.

I’m also puzzled by his interaction with other people as soon as his father is around. He is a single parent and Pascal has an older brother. Actually, Pascal is rather calm, but when his father is around, he often becomes aggressive and not only hits the children, but also the adults.
I chose Pascal because I would like to get to know him better, what is in him? I want to encourage him through his strengths and thus also give him more self-confidence and reduce any fears he might have. New friendships could develop.

3. Rico:
Rico is 5;4 years old. I spontaneously took him in just before the start of my programme. I had a parent interview with his mother about his developmental status – and many criteria caught my eye that indicate a higher level of giftedness, for example, his special interest in learning to read and write, his great imagination, his somewhat different view of things or his current unwillingness to go to kindergarten. His comment: „It’s boring here!“ (By the way, he was the one who had the idea to make music with the water bottles). I think he is underchallenged and this should be counteracted quickly.
Therefore, I would like to make him offers that really meet his interests so that he is less bored. Rico was also in the same groups with Pascal und Malte.

4. Nora:
Nora is 5 years old. From the group leader of her group I got the information that Nora shows an above-average talent in many areas, for example in dealing with numbers. For example, she finished the „Heinevetter 10 Trainer“, a learning game that one of our  gifted children had put aside in frustration, on her own, in passing. That’s how she always does it, on the spur of the moment, without any visible effort, without expecting praise. She is also rather a loner and therefore fits into this group.
I would also like to offer her special challenges and the opportunity to make new friends.

5. Naomi:
She is 4 years old and also goes to Nora´s group. I was also told about her special abilities in our team sessions, for example, she can already tie ribbons and shows special interests in the fine motor area. She was particularly adept at archery at the summer festival.
So Naomi also has special skills that I would like to promote. Perhaps she can also act as an expert in the area of motor skills and support Pascal in this way.

All five children now go to the „Robber Group“ and are pre-school children in the new kindergarten year, so they will have more frequent contact with each other. They show special skills and interests that they can bring to the preschool group in particular. I want to give them the opportunity to satisfy their very special wishes and give them the appropriate time to do so.

In this small group they find like-minded play partners and they can work together more intensively! This way you can keep their motivation and curiosity high. My aim is that everyone can benefit together and that new friendships are formed and outsider roles are avoided.
I want to observe them personally and partly get to know them better, gifted children need our special attention. I accept and appreciate their special abilities. To achieve this, I want to use all areas of education and work together with experts.

Five children – five interests

I filled out the Questionnaire on Child´s Interests with all five children so that I could hear their interests from their own mouths. (However, these were still the old questionnaires that I knew from the previous trainings of my colleagues, in the meantime a new, more comprehensive questionnaire has been developed by the IHVO team).

I have withdrawn with two children each so that we were undisturbed.
I filled out the questionnaire with my observation child Malte first. By chance, the teacher of the Robber Group, who will take care of him in this kindergarten year, came and went through the questionnaire again with him. It turned out that I had misunderstood something twice: He doesn’t just think it’s stupid when something he’s built is broken, but when anything is broken at all. And he had given „ambulance“ as his career wish. Without thinking, I wrote down ambulance driver. That wasn’t correct either. He specifically meant the paramedic who pushes the injured into the back of the car and takes care of them. We were then able to clarify that together.

I learned from this how important it is to stay in dialogue with the child and not immediately make your own interpretations.

I was amazed how exactly Malte knew what he had told me. Here you can see his amazing memory once again.

The evaluation of the questionnaires showed – (Since I added Rico spontaneously later, he is not included in this evaluation):
The children like that, so they ticked the smiling face in the table:















Foreign Languages



Painting and Drawing









Make Music










Listening to CDs









Cooking and Baking
























Thinking about questions





Solving riddles






This results in a common interest in the areas of:
Theatre, plants, writing, cooking and baking, dancing, gymnastics, handicrafts, thinking about questions and solving riddles.

Here are the answers to the open questions:

Sendung mit





Board games


Monopoly, Mau Mau

Environmental themes

Waste collection

House building, Rubber boots,

Play material


Books, Lego, Cuddle toys, Role play, Handicrafts


Horses, Trampoline, Salto, Gymnastic      exercises






What are you
good at?

Riding a bike, Learning,
Morning circle leader

Riding a bike, Rhyme,

Ballet, Gymnastics

Trampoline, Painting

What do you
want to learn?

Skateboarding,  Win,

Make paper planes,  Painting aeroplanes

Writing Letters, Reading


What don’t you like about kindergarten?

Breaking  things

Pushing, Hitting, Boxing

Hitting, Scratching, Piching, Spitting, Pushing

Washing hands,
Going out in the kindergarten

What is your favourite toy?

Cuddle animals, Real cats and rabbits

Cuddle cat

Doll  „Günther“


Fire brigade, Hidden objects books,
„Mama Muh“

Pirates, Witches



The Show with the Mouse,



Sesame Street

Emil und die Wildgänse (Emil and the Wild Geese)

Pippi Longstocking, Wicki,
Sponge Bob, Bibi Bloxberg

Career aspirations

Policeman, Paramedic,




Some of the children’s statements were really exciting. For example, Nora doesn’t like washing her hands and going outside in the kindergarten, while all the others agreed that hitting, pushing, etc. is stupid. Or Nora collects sweets – she must have been thinking of carnival or St. Martin’s Day. In any case, her different way of thinking is striking.

And of all things, the child who stutters wants to become a teacher. I recently read a novel or a life story where a boy who stuttered also became a teacher. Maybe this is a good therapy, who knows?
In any case, Malte had very concrete answers to every question. They strengthened my previous observations.

I also filled out the questionnaire with Rico at short notice. He was particularly interested in learning to read and write and in archery.

After the observations, after the questionnaires and after the discussions in the team, I wanted to set up the work like this:

    • Small group work
    • Prepare topics
    • Selecting topics together with the children
    • Find a name for the group
    • Regular meetings

1st meeting – finding topics

After consultation in the large team, I sat down with the five children for the first time on 6 June at 9.00 am in the research room. We sat at the table and briefly introduced ourselves, and I explained to the children that we would be meeting more often soon because we have special interests together.

I had arranged various objects on a table, each symbolising one of the children´s themes. We explained these objects together and thought about what they could stand for:

Green plant:
All the children were interested in taking care of plants or learning about them.
Rubbish collection car:
Malte has had a special interest in rubbish collection for a long time and the other children also show interest in environmental topics.
Several children enjoyed archery so much at the summer festival.
The rope was representative of bows and knot tying, which Naomi was particularly interested in.
Cooking pot:
All the children liked cooking and baking.
Cuddly hedgehog:
All the children like cuddly animals or dolls, also in role play.
Horse figure:
The children all took part in therapeutic riding and liked it very much. Nora also rides privately.
Riddle book:
This was Nora’s special interest.
Music CD:
All the children ticked that they liked music.
The scissors stood for handicrafts.
Board game:
All the children like to do this too.
Wooden letter:
Rico, Nora and Pascal are especially interested in letters, learning to write and reading.
Wooden number:
Arithmetic was also of interest to several children.
The girls and also Rico like to paint pictures with lots of details.
According to the educators of the Robber Group, the girls like to play doctor games there and have expressed interest in a 1st aid course.
Sheet with gymnastic exercises from the summer festival:
Some children, such as Nora, are interested in learning special tricks like a somersault.

So I think I had something for everyone.
Each child could then choose an object. I then photographed the children with this object, firstly to record their choice and secondly for documentation in the portfolio folder.

Then I asked the children what they would like to see in their chosen theme. Everyone was able to contribute their ideas. I wrote this down on a blank sheet of paper and later added the photo.

Malte, as was to be expected, chose the rubbish collection. He wanted to play with this car, do role-playing and make a car out of a cardboard box and turn the building blocks into rubbish. He wants to visit a real rubbish collection, see a real rubbish truck and the „plant where they sort, on the belt“. He wants to go to a waste incineration plant.

Pascal has chosen the music CD. He would like to listen to music, play musical instruments, e.g. guitar or drum, sing, dance and then he had the idea to sing and record a song.

Rico chose the bow. He wanted to do archery, go to a tournament with mum and dad and make a bow himself.

Naomi took the rope. She would like to use it to tie bows, tie knots, jump rope, pull rope and pull objects, e.g. a carriage.

Nora picked up the riddle book because she wants to learn how to colour, do riddles, make lines, write, calculate and look for mistakes.

At this first meeting, Malte played the clown. He made faces, burped and talked nonsense. Rico thought it was funny and joined in enthusiastically. It was also hard for them to sit still. The other children felt massively disturbed by this. But since the topics were interesting for all of them, since they were „their“ topics, I could always encourage them to listen.

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. That is already a long time to concentrate.
Rico then counted the children who were taking part and Naomi reported on her success in archery at the summer festival, „I hit gold!“

In the end, we were able to agree on an order, with which offer we would start and how it would continue.

Everyone wanted to start, except Naomi. She said she wanted to be last. Immediately, the other children came up with ideas on how to determine an order. Then Malte wanted to be in the middle and Pascal wanted to be behind Malte. Nora still wanted to be first and Rico agreed to be second. So one child gave the impetus to solve the problem. This shows special social skills that I would like to observe further.
This results in the following order:
1. Nora: riddle
2. Rico: archery
3. Malte: Rubbish collection
4. Pascal: Music
5. Naomi: Rope

Three of the topics requested by the children
I was able to „work through“ within the framework of this homework:
The riddle book, the archery and the rubbish collection.
The remaining two will follow in the next term paper.

That was the end of the first meeting. Later I remembered that we had forgotten to give ourselves a name. I wanted to strengthen the cohesion of the group by giving them a common name.

To also make our work transparent to the parents, I wrote a letter to the parents and passed it on with explanations.

Dear Parents!

All children are unique and have special abilities and interests!
In order to support these, five children met for the first time at the beginning of June in a small group, Nora and Naomi from the Robbers Group, and Malte, Pascal and Rico from the Tramps Group. We would like to work together regularly on special topics, create projects, explore new things,…
After an intensive questioning of the children, I was able to filter out various common themes and offer them to the children in the form of objects, such as a letter made of wood, a bow, a cuddly toy, a music CD, a rubbish truck, a rope, a number made of wood,… to choose from.
At their first meeting, they chose the following:

Rubbish collection
Rope, knots and bows

The children have also had some ideas about what they would like to do around these themes, such as making their own bow, going to the rubbish incinerator, playing the guitar or jumping rope.
We may also need your support sometimes in carrying out our projects, such as carpooling on outings or helping with „homework“.
We may also give ourselves our own name, so let us surprise you.

We will keep you informed about our projects and are looking forward to an exciting time!

Martina Werner



I also informed the team about my meeting and asked for their help, so we picked out days when the group could meet. I get support from colleagues who are experts for archery and music. I also got some initial materials, like riddle books, laces or bows.
Then I spoke to my archery club and agreed that the children could watch training on Sundays in the outdoor area during the holiday period. There was a letter to parents for that too. My brother-in-law is works at waste collection and he gave me tips on where to visit cars. This is a good way to get outside experts involved.

2nd meeting – riddles

At the 2nd meeting we looked for a name. This was not easy, as the children had a thousand ideas: Hedgehog Group, Skeleton Group, Ghost Group, Star Group, Fire Brigade Group, Garbage Collection Group, … They couldn’t agree, so I pointed out to them what they had chosen. As an kindergarten teacher, you sometimes have to give impulses to reach an agreement or not to overwhelm the children.

Then we came up with the idea of using our initial letters or those of the chosen themes. That didn’t work either. Then Nora had the idea that we should be called „squad“ instead of group. And I had the idea that we should be called Riddle Squad when we are busy with the topic Riddles and Archery Squad when we are busy with Archery, … We took a vote and except for Malte everyone was in favour. He just wanted to be called Rubbish Collection Squad. Naomi thought that was unfair and the others agreed with her. There was her special social sense again.

So we could continue as a Riddle Squad.
On the gallery in the group room of the Strolchengruppe there are various tables and chairs and a photocopier. There I had laid out various riddle books, crossword puzzles, templates for writing or mandalas. The children could choose something and then photocopy it. After a short time, they had the photocopier figured out and could more or less operate it on their own.

They chose all kinds of different things:
Nora chose particularly difficult things, such as connecting numbers or rhyming and writing. She needed little help and had a lot of stamina. She continued when all the other children were long gone, for about 2 ½ hours (!) in total.

Malte was particularly fascinated by error searches or sheets in which larger or smaller numbers had to be distinguished. He was also concentrated on the task, but always wanted help from me or to have his actions confirmed. But he also helped the others. In this way, he was able to use his abilities in a positive way.

Naomi wanted to do maths and paint her way through a maze. She worked very independently, but had little interest and went back to her group early.

Pascal wanted to connect numbers. He had motor difficulties, but did not let this discourage him. He did everything slowly and calmly and was proud afterwards because I praised him for his thoroughness and for getting the order of the numbers right. At the same time, he helped the other children. Again, I noticed that he has great cognitive abilities, but that it is difficult for him to use them in his motor skills. This is where activities like this help, where he also exercises his motor skills through his interests.

Rico also chose to connect numbers, do a maze and colour in snakes. You could tell that he often did such learning books at home. He was practised and always had only one short question: „What do you have to do?“ Then he already started and was quickly finished. He did most of the sheets.

To inform the parents about the choice of name and the progress of the project, I wrote the following letter:

Hello dear parents!

So, now we finally know what our name is!
When we were doing riddles, we were called „Riddles Squad“, now we are busy with archery and are called „Archery Squad“, when we will soon be dealing with the topic of rubbish collection we will call ourselves „Rubbish Collection Squad“, then comes the topic of music so „Music Squad“ and finally the topic of rope so „Rope Squad“.
Malte, Rico, Pascal, Naomi and Nora have decided on this.

At the moment we are working on archery. We have re-fletched arrows and set up the place where we want to shoot soon. We have already tested our „shooting range“ with a simple plastic bow. From Monday we want to try out the real bows. We are also planning to build our own bow, let’s see!

Some of the children also wanted to watch „real“ archery. During the holidays, they have this opportunity every Sunday at the training session from 10.00 to 12.00 at the Archery Friends Lindlar on the outdoor grounds. You will find us in Lindlar 〈German town〉 right next to the Volksbank Park Stadium. The castle, an adventure playground and the open-air museum are also nearby.

We would be very pleased to welcome you!
Your „Archery Squad“

If you have any questions, please contact Martina Werner from the Strolchen group.


All the children enjoyed the riddle day. Now I knew which leaves the children particularly liked and I also offered them to the other children in our kindergarten. Several other children were also very interested. This way they can benefit from the special interests of the more gifted children.

Malte had been behaving particularly conspicuously in the kindergarten since the beginning of July. He constantly had a very angry expression on his face, as if he had a „hatred for the whole world“, there is no other way to describe it. He often got into fights with another boy who is 7 months younger but physically superior to him. They often fought or pulled each other’s hair violently over trifles, such as who was allowed to ride the running bike.
Most of the children are afraid of Malte, so he knows no resistance. I wasn’t there on these occasions, my colleagues told me about it and made a portfolio sheet with him: „My social goal!“ They put in writing that he must not hurt other children. If he commits any further offences, he is reminded of the agreement. My guess was if maybe something had happened at home. Or was it a power struggle over who had what position in the group? Did he need new challenges and tasks or was he preparing himself for the change of group, according to the motto: if everything is stupid in this group, it can only be nice with the robbers! 〈the oldest children in our kindergarten〉. In any case, such massive conspicuousness cannot be absorbed by small group work!

It was probably a little bit of everything, but the real answer came four weeks later: The father told me in the morning during drop-off time that he had separated from his wife. The mother has moved out and is now sleeping somewhere else. She looks after the children during the day and as soon as the father comes home, she leaves the house again. She is, in my opinion, overwhelmed with the three boys, one of whom tested positive for higher giftedness.
Anyway, this explained his great anger and we are currently making a special effort to offer him alternatives to his aggressive behaviour by supporting him in conflicts and offering him different solutions so that he has a choice and can think about it himself. For example, the other day there was a situation in the gym where all the children built a wall and then one child didn’t want to join in. Timo preferred to build a computer with two building blocks. Malte indignantly went to a kindergarten teacher for help and he asked Malte: „Why don’t you give him the two pieces and continue building with the rest?“ – „Oh, I didn’t come up with that idea!“, Malte then replied.

3rd meeting – archery

Next we met as the „Archery Squad“. The weather was nice, everyone was outside and so we spontaneously started preparing for archery. Three kindergarten teachers know about this sport, including me. Together with the other two colleagues, we re-fletched the arrows, for example. The children, not only from the archery group, were interested. They asked why we were doing this. These were donated arrows that needed repairs. They also wanted to know how the fletching equipment worked and when we were finally going to shoot. We have had some equipment donated or borrowed and some purchased. If there is interest, we would like to offer archery as a permanent activity in our kindergarten. We are now well equipped in terms of both materials and staff. This way, everyone can again benefit from the special wishes of the more gifted children.

Next, we set up the equipment. For this we needed a safety net, which the children helped to hang up, a target, which the children rolled into the right place, a barrier made of sticks and flags so that no one could run between the arrows. The children looked for the sticks and put up the flags. Many other children also helped. Some children put up chairs so that they could watch everything as spectators.

At first, we only tried out two simple plastic bows, as the others were still at our colleague’s house. One was mine and Naomi had brought one with her. Later we also shot with real wooden longbows. Since the finger guards were too big for the children, we quickly made our own without further ado.

On the first day, there were many spectators and also children who wanted to shoot themselves.
Rico was allowed to start, as it was his favourite subject. He is already quite adept at shooting and has a lot of stamina. But one of the pre-school children was the best at it, so I decided to make him my assistant and he then demonstrated everything to the other children. Like me, he stood in front of the children and explained everything in detail.

Naomi didn’t want to take part once because she was playing at the computer. This wish also had to be accepted. The next time she participated intensively. She can already do the movements very well and hits the target.

And Pascal dared to join in, even though he had trouble with the movement. Unfortunately, there were often less nice comments from the watching pre-school children, so that he only wanted to watch the next time. This partly discouraged the bow squad. Therefore, we decided to continue after the holidays, when the big ones are at school.

Malte was particularly intense and skilful. He would have liked to shoot without stopping, but realised that everyone wanted to shoot once. He was good at following the rules. I praised him for that, which obviously pleased him. Once we stopped shooting because it was too hot.
Not only the bow troop was very enthusiastic about it, many other children were also fascinated.

After the preschool children left, the interest in archery decreased a lot because three children of the archery squad were on holiday and the other two, Rico and Malte, wanted to get to know their new group first after the group change. Then there was a three-week closure period and in September the new children started to settle in. So there was a break for a while.

In the meantime, the course has been set up, material is available and it only takes a few steps to be able to shoot. Archery requires an intensive engagement with one’s motor skills. The smallest movements result in big changes on the target! It is also a very quiet sport that is also mental training. You can switch off and become calmer. I have done this a lot with the children in the last few days. With a new child, 5 years old, who was described to us as having motor difficulties, I noticed that she is particularly good at shooting. She understood the movement sequence very quickly and can do everything well. I also reported this to the parents and they were very happy about it and might want to register her in the club soon. You can do archery in the club from the age of 6. So the wish for „archery“ has become a permanent fixture in our kindergarten, from which everyone benefits.

After the holidays, the club „Bogensportfreunde Lindlar“ 〈Archery Friends Lindlar〉, of which I am a member together with two other colleagues, had its 15th anniversary. I put up a poster about it in the kindergarten and gave the „archery squad“ a flyer. In fact, Rico and Naomi came that day with family and everyone, including the adults, tried out shooting and had a great day on our outdoor area.

Now it’s Malte’s turn with his topic: rubbish!

Since Malte kept asking when we were finally going to the rubbish collection, we dedicated ourselves to his wish after the closing time. This was not so easy, as he is no longer in my group and it takes a lot of energy and time to get used to new children.
Nevertheless, the „Rubbish Collection Squad“ set off!

I got in touch with my brother-in-law again and he told me about a company nearby. At the beginning of September, I met with Malte to call this factory to make an appointment, or to ask if it was possible to visit the company.
In the afternoon, when all the new children had left, we went to the kindergarten office and looked up the phone number in a phone book. Malte recognised the book by a small receiver painted on the spine. Then he looked for the K for our town Kürten and finally the N for the Neuenhaus company. He wrote the name on a piece of paper and I was supposed to tell him the letters. He already knew most of them, others I told him on request. I read out the telephone number and he wrote it down, he already knew the numbers. I then automatically put a slash between the area code and the actual number. He asked me what it was for. I explained to him that the same number can exist in different cities and that you therefore need an area code so that the call ends up in the right city. He asked for examples and I gave him some: 02268 for Kürten, 0221 for Cologne or 040 for Hamburg. „I’ve been to Hamburg before, for eight days,“ Malte said. I then told him that I had recently been on holiday there and had seen „The Lion King“, the Zoo and the „Miniatur Wunderland“. „What does miniature mean?“ he wanted to know. So I explained the small model railway to him. „I’ve been there with my aunt before! There are buttons like that.“ Indeed, there are buttons there to press, so that people, animals or machines then move. I then asked him what else he remembered. „The prison, there’s one out!“ The next day I brought a big book of the „Miniatur Wunderland“ with lots of pictures, which we looked at from cover to cover and he also found the prison break. We did that again in the afternoon and spent a long time looking at it. Rico joined us and was also very interested. They were especially fascinated when you could see size comparisons, the figures are only 2.5 cm tall. One of the button-pressing actions was especially explained in the book, Malte wanted to know every detail and kept asking.
Now I’ve digressed quite a bit, but that’s how it can be when you set out with more highly gifted children.

Other interesting topics spontaneously crop up on the sidelines that turn out to be exciting and absolutely have to be clarified, for which you should then also be open and take your time. That’s what I personally find particularly great about my job.

So, back to the actual topic. Since Malte had the wish with the refuse collection, he was also allowed to call there by phone and ask questions himself. I wanted to involve him as much as possible in his project so that his interests would really be met.

We then looked for a quiet room the next afternoon and took the phone with us. Rico also wanted to join in. I asked Malte if he wanted to talk to the people himself and what questions he had. He then had the idea that I should write down his questions so that we wouldn’t forget anything.
Those were his questions:

    • When can we get there?
    • Do you have waste separation?
    • Do you have a very big belt for sorting?
    • Where is a waste incineration plant?
    • Can we see a real rubbish truck, even from the inside?
    • Can we bring rubbish with us to sort?
    • Is there a rubbish truck wash? (I would never have thought of this question, but it’s logical, isn’t it? After all, rubbish trucks get dirty and have to be cleaned at some point. So you never stop learning, you learn along with the children!)

The first time we called, no one had time for us. The next day we started the second attempt, Malte was very excited the whole week and kept coming to me and asking when we were going to continue. This time they were prepared at Neuenhaus and we were able to ask all the questions and make an appointment. For this, we turned on the loudspeaker on the phone so that Rico and I could listen in.
Malte then kept asking me quietly what he wanted to ask again. The man on the other end took a lot of time and answered in detail. In the process, new questions arose for Malte, which he answered immediately. Quite brave to talk to a stranger on the phone himself! He was highly concentrated during the conversation, very serious, confident and self-assured. Rico was only there for a short time and didn’t notice much of the actual conversation, he was playing.

Afterwards, Malte was very excited and calculated for me every day how many days were left until the visit. We then asked the children of the „Rubbish Collection Squad“ who would like to come along. They were to make their own decision.
Pascal didn’t want to come. Ever since he joined the Robber Group, he’s been against everything. He probably doesn’t have much confidence in himself at first and first has to really get used to the robbers.
The number of children was limited to 8 because of the traffic on the Neuenhaus premises. We then asked the pre-school children to join us, so that 7 children finally came along. This way, more children could benefit from the ideas and wishes of the gifted children. Actually, younger children also wanted to come along, maybe they could go to the waste incineration plant, we’ll see.

The next day, Malte came to me in the group and said he was bored. He could look for rubbish to take to the rubbish collection, I said. He was immediately hooked and we set up 4 bins in the small room (storeroom) and put signs on them, which Malte painted and labelled himself:
– Paper,
– Green Dot (he was already familiar with this),
– residual waste,
– plastic bottles (he had learned this on the phone).

This made the waiting time more exciting for him. He collected rubbish every day, asked all the kindergarten teachers to help, asked the cook in the kitchen and emptied the rubbish bin from the office. Every day he came and asked if I had anything else. He even tipped out my water bottle so that he finally had a plastic bottle. I was less enthusiastic about that, which I told him clearly. He also realised this and was dismayed by my reaction, after which he was even more diligent in his work. After all, you still have to set clear boundaries.
Anyway, he infected everyone and then everyone had special rubbish, like a broken globe or big boxes. Many thought of him and were open to his wishes.

Again, I wrote a letter to the parents and asked two parents to accompany me to the rubbish collection. Because of the settling-in period of the youngest children, the outing was to take place in the afternoon and only one kindergarten teacher could come along.

Malte often visited our group during this time. He also wanted to take part in a birthday party. As he did not keep to the agreed rules, he was not allowed to take part. He was crestfallen. Overall, however, I found him very relaxed during this time and he had a great time playing with our children in the afternoon. He kept to the rules and did not dictate the children’s actions. I have also received feedback from his (robber) group that he is one of many there and no longer has the fear-provoking role that he had with the (younger) thugs.
The other children in his new group simply do not care much about his wishes and are not afraid. I was able to observe this yesterday when he wanted to build something outside and needed help. He had to shout for a long time until someone helped him, and no one let him interrupt his play with his assertive manner. Nevertheless, he achieved his goal without „hurting“ anyone.

When Malte is new somewhere, he doesn’t participate much at first, is reserved and observes how things work. He probably did the same with the robbers (in his new group with the older children), but slowly he is falling back into familiar patterns and wants to take over. For example, he has found his game outside: He has taken command of the playhouse and gives out toys to the children or collects them again, similar to rubbish collection. After some explanations from me, the children accept this and Malte obviously feels comfortable in this role.

On 13 September, we went to the rubbish collection

We went there in private cars and the children were then picked up by their parents. First, everyone waited outside and I went with Malte to the office to register. After we had put on high-visibility waistcoats, we went to the sorting belt. Some of the girls held their noses and said: „It stinks in here!“ The boys looked around with interest and marvelled at the big machines.

Of course, we also had the rubbish that Malte had collected. After the sorting belt, we took a closer look at one of the vehicles. We were allowed to throw the paper waste in the back and watch it being crushed. Malte was the first to be allowed into the driver’s cab and could then see the children standing behind the car via a monitor.

During the whole time – the tour lasted an hour – he never left the side of the man who showed us everything. The worker devoted a lot of time to him and answered all his questions. And there were many, for Malte there were always new questions that he wanted to have answered immediately. You could literally watch him think.
Unfortunately, I hardly heard any of the questions because it was very loud, I had to pay attention to the other children and I was taking photos.

Malte asked, for example, why the car beeps when reversing. He got answers to all his questions. It must have been great for him to be taken so seriously! The next day, I gave the staff a small thank-you gift and they asked me if they should draw up an employment contract. They had never seen such an interested child who already knew so much. I told this to Malte and his father, they were both pleased and looked very proud.

From above, we watched a large container yard and got an explanation of a tyre shredding machine that prepares granulate for sports fields. Interesting!

We went on to the big hall. Various large piles of rubbish were sorted there. Malte was then allowed to throw our collected rubbish onto the corresponding piles. He knew immediately what belonged where. The plastic bottles were pressed into bales and Malte wanted to know what happened to them.

But what everyone liked best was the big excavator, that is the rubbish grabber, as Malte immediately improved on me. He had already asked our guide that. The rubbish grab threw the paper rubbish into a press, so that pressed bales were created there too. Malte was then allowed to pick up a single piece of cardboard, which was quite light. Then he was supposed to try to lift a pressed bale, but he couldn’t. It weighed 350 kg.

And Malte was actually allowed to get into the cabin of the waste grabber and drive up so that he could see everything from above. He was explained the levers and could even operate them. I was so touched by his beaming face that it almost brought tears to my eyes. It was a dream come true for him! I have never seen him so satisfied, highly concentrated, motivated, eager to learn… I don’t have any more words. It was great to see that!


Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the truck wash because it was undergoing TÜV 〈Technical Monitoring Association〉. But we did see how a lorry was washed by hand and where they were refuelled. At the end, everyone got a small dustbin with a balloon in it.

Afterwards, when we were standing in front of the site waiting for the parents, Malte complained that it was already over. There was still so much to see, he wanted to have the big truck scales explained to him, he wanted to go down to the lower site,….
And the next day he immediately asked me when we were going to the waste incineration plant. That will probably be our next appointment.

Malte´s great curiosity is not yet satisfied!

Rico’s mother helped with the excursion and was quite fascinated by how her son behaved: He was highly motivated the whole time, he listened intently and asked questions and was not bored! He is also very interested in technology and needs a lot of „input“. He got it this time.

Naomi was the youngest on this trip, but she had her father with her. That was good, because she was afraid of the many wasps that were attracted by the rubbish. She had been stung three times the day before. You also have to take such fears into account. But she also said afterwards that she had enjoyed it.

Nora looked at everything with interest but said little else. I can’t judge what she took away from this excursion.

It’s a pity that Pascal wasn’t there. But our offers are voluntary and he didn’t want to come. He has little self-confidence when it comes to new things. There would have been motor challenges for him, such as the steep stairs to the sorting facility.

The rest of the pre-school children enjoyed it very much, and there were also children who were particularly interested in technology and vehicles. Sarah, for example, as Malte’s best friend, has been playing role-playing games with him for a long time on the topic of waste collection.

Personally, I enjoyed the excursion very much. I was pleased that the Neuenhaus employees were so serious, patient and intensive, especially with Malte. I was able to fulfil his greatest wish and since then he has been playing his role-plays on this topic even more intensively and in more detail. The other children can now understand many things better and enjoy playing along.
The next day, the teachers of the Robbers‘ Group told me that the children had talked a lot about their excursion in the morning circle, sometimes down to the smallest detail.

I quickly printed out photos and made a poster with Malte to make our work transparent to the other parents. The photos will also go into the children’s portfolios later, not only of this excursion, but of our entire project. This way they can document and show what they have achieved or experienced.
Malte was allowed to choose the photos for the poster and stick them on, then he wrote little texts for several pictures, for example „This is the rubbish grabber“. He likes to write himself and I told him the letters or, if he didn’t know them, prescribed them and he copied them down. When it became too tiring for him, I wrote his comments and he glued them to the matching picture. He was proud to be able to write so well already. And he could remember an amazing amount of detail, especially technical terms, like the rubbish grab.

Interim conclusion:

So far, I am quite happy with the way my project is going, even though it is dragging on a bit due to the summer closing time and the settling in of the new children. I hope that the other children will still be interested in their topics when we deal with them.

I have noticed an improvement in Malte’s behaviour, he seems more balanced and content. The other children in his group are not afraid of him and have partly learned to appreciate his play. I could observe that they even called on him as an expert. Nevertheless, he often falls back into old patterns by overstepping boundaries or wanting to dominate. But everyone tries to show him other possibilities when he wants to achieve something or is angry. He is encouraged to find solutions himself, and that works.
As the youngest of three brothers, he probably also has a hard time at home and tries to compensate for this among children of the same age or younger. Of course, I can’t take away his fears about the separation of his parents.
In any case, I have the feeling that he is doing a little better at the moment. I am also often in contact with the parents and they appreciate our work very much. They are happy that we fulfil his wishes and take him seriously and support him as he is.

Pascal still lacks self-confidence. Since his transfer to the Robber´s Group, he has refused any clubs, activities or excursions. He first has to get used to his new environment. That’s enough of a challenge for him, and besides, our activities are voluntary. I could have asked him myself why he doesn’t want to go, maybe he would have had his own answer.
But he surprised me with the riddles. How far he can already count and draw a number picture with it. There is much more to him than meets the eye. I hope that he can really come out of his shell in his chosen activity, music.

Rico has always been highly motivated and very interested in the activities so far. He has participated enthusiastically and intensively every time, and there is no sign of boredom. He likes to experience and learn a lot, which he gets the opportunity to do here.

Naomi is a very reserved, quiet girl. I had to get to know her better myself. So far, I have not succeeded in winning her over as an expert, although her ideas on how to solve problems were exemplary. Hopefully, the other children have learned something from her. So far, she has shown particular interest in archery and is already very advanced in this area, even though she is the youngest. Her wish, ropes, follows at the project´s end.

Nora is the one I have got to know the least so far. She is often absent, so she was absent for the entire holiday period and did not participate in archery. She is quite quiet and reveals little of herself. She observes a lot and obviously takes in a lot. The trip to the rubbish collection was certainly a great experience for her, but it is difficult for me to assess what she took away from it. It is difficult to support her in her circle of friends when she is missing so much. The meetings of the „squad“ are too irregular for that. I have to keep an eye on that.

So far, my goal with the possible new friendships has not come true. They haven’t become close friends yet, but they have enjoyed our activities together. On the other hand, the other children have already been able to benefit from the needs of the more gifted children:
The riddle books are regularly used as copy templates for worksheets, there is a fixed archery range in our facility with appropriate equipment and the first outing for all preschool children was already successful.

Some things are difficult for me because all the children are now in the Robber Group. I am therefore dependent on the help and feedback of the other kindergarten teachers, which has worked very well so far. I hope that I will be able to finish the project well.
I would like to work more intensively on the different topics to see what ideas the children spontaneously come up with and follow them up. But with the time available it is such a thing.


I would definitely like to go to the waste incineration plant in Leverkusen (town in North Rhine-Westphalia) with Malte to satisfy his still great thirst for knowledge on this topic, and then fulfil the wishes of the other children. Maybe we can also write an article together for the next kindergarten newspaper in December, I just had the idea!

The next topic would be music, which I would like to do together with a collegue from the (U3) Giant Group (these are the youngest children in our kindergarten). She is an expert in music and maybe we can make an offer for the preschool children or mixed-age children, so that others can benefit from it.
Personally, I don’t know anything about music and I’m sure I’m still learning a lot myself. Maybe we can go to a performance.

At the end, Naomi’s wish would be: ropes. I have already bought ropes and shoelaces, my husband has lent me his fire brigade books which show different knots and what they are used for – and let’s see what ideas the children come up with in the meantime. Maybe something completely different or new will come up. I am open to everything.

See also:  Advancement in Small Groups – Possibilities and Advantages


Date of publication in German: March 2021
Copyright © Hanna Vock, see Imprint.