The work we provide on the shelf, such as maps and timelines, gives the children a framework on which to place information as they get it. Lessons and shelf work help the children connect their learning so they don’t become like the accountant or geographer in The Little Prince, who focused solely on counting or sitting at their desk and couldn’t “see with the heart.”
The variety of work happening in the classroom all the time stimulates more connections, but the biggest work of all is communicating with each other. They sort out what to do after intercepting a look that clearly meant, “I’m smarter than you.” They learn that whispering, “Can I play?” from twenty feet away is ineffective. They are practicing being a community and gaining skills they will use all their lives.