Thursday, February 24, 2011

What can a child do with a few pieces of Rope?

The teacher cut the thick rope into strands and left it on the table as an invitation to the children. This young student took the opportunity to make a representation of the sun. We were not surprised that she thought the sun was only in Cuba, where she had recently vacationed, since we've had very little sunshine in Ontario this winter!

When her sun was finished she decided to add a strand and make a stem for a sunflower.
"Sunflowers and the sun are both yellow!"

"I'm making the sun like the one I saw in Cuba."
"Now it is a beautiful sunflower!"
I am rolling the yellow clay to make the pedals."
The next day the teacher offered her yellow clay to see if she would like to make a alternate representation of her flower.
"Here it is!"

Next week they will plant a sunflower seed and watch it grow!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bring In The Wild Things

The delightful tale "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak always lends itself to sparking the imagination!
Making the base line was not a problem for this young child-once he made the hill he was able to create a layered setting for the forest tress!
Let the wild rumpas begin!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Working with Children is Never Linear!

An Albania Doll
Making a Vietnamese Doll

When we work with the children, our experiences are never linear. We are seldom finished an area of interest before a new one creeps us on us.  The children in this JK/SK class were wrapping up their work on the the storybook, The Mitten by Jan Brett, when one of the children commented that she had a grandmother too. Her's was not called Baba like the one in The Mitten.
"She is called Nonna and that's Italian!" 
Several other children chimed in offering the titles they used to address their grandmothers.
"Grandmothers have lots of names! But they all mean the same thing!"
This led to a class project on nationality. 
What country does your family come from?
What does it mean to be Italian, Russian, Ukrainian...?
What do you eat? What types of homes do your countrymen live in? What are your customs?
"This little girl is from India!"
Each child designed his/her own doll wearing traditional garb.
Since the children needed a new number line for their classroom, a suggestion was made to use the dolls.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Tug and Pull

The children assess the height of the tree? Does it an impact on their ability to dislodge the branch?

A chance encounter with this fork shaped tree and a branch wedged inside it presented a wonderful opportunity for the children to do some problem solving.
At first the children were intent on dislodging the branch so they could remove it; they pulled, tugged, and swayed it back and forth across the fulcrum. But, the branch refused to budge. They then decided that it needed to be snapped in half in order for them to remove it.
While watching this video you will be able to see how the children think; the pitch in their voices, the words they use, the position of the children across the branch, the number of children on each side, the child who stands in the middle to orchestrate the work. Did the teacher change the work of the children when she asked one of the boys to get off the branch?

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Bridge for the Squirrels

This young group of children watched the squirrels scampering around in the school playground. Running from one tree to the other was exhausting for the tiny creatures. So the children decided the squirrels could use a little help to get from one tree to the other without having to climb up and down.
"The sticks need to be close so the squirrels don't fall through," commented one of the children.
When the bridge was ready the teachers secure it to the two trees.
The children raised there arms as an invitation to the squirrels!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winter is Black & White

It has been a drab and snowy winter in Ontario. If we're not in a deep freeze then we're buried in snow.  Most days the sun hides behind behind the clouds reluctant to poke its head out and offer us a reprieve.  So it's no wonder that this child, when asked what winter is like replied, "Winter is black and white and sometimes grey!"
Charcoal on white paper are the perfect tools to capture the dreary winter scenery!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Snap, Crackle, Pop

What could this baby gain from a simple encounter with bubble paper?

There is much to be said about engaging the senses and the implications this type of exposure has for future learning. Each time a baby hears, smells, touches and encounters object, neurons grow and develop in the brain. Sensory information is banked and with each new encounter the baby remembers the previous information that was stored and again new learning occurs. This is referred to as "cognitive bootstrapping" Karyn Wellhousen 2001
A sheet of bubble paper has a great deal of possibilities for learning.
 When Jenna was placed on top of the bubble paper she stretched out her arms and a few of the bubbles exploded, making enough of a popping sound to catch her attention.
Curious to find the source of the sound, she sat up and began to press her finger to the bubbles. Again she heard a pop (Cause and effect).  After pressing several more she bounced up and raised her arms in triumph.

Although she could not speak her message was clear "I did it!"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Drawing to Learn"

These two children were asked to draw on existing knowledge to sketch pictures of where water comes from.
Andrea- There is water under the ground. People put the pipes in there and that's how the water gets inside your house and it becomes tap water. The trees get their water through the roots because they don't have pipes.

Kevin- You can dig a hole and build a well to draw water from underground. First you dig a hole until you can see the water. Then you build a wall along the ground so people don't fall when they get the water. You need a bucket and a long rope to reach the water. That's how the well works.

"Children's drawings are not only beautiful to look at but more importantly they tell us much about how children think and see the world around them. You will find that whenever you ask a child to draw you a picture about an event of situation they often come to the table full of ideas and concepts of their own.

This is an excerpt from and our esteemed friend and colleague Dr. George Forman.

Drawing to learn is a term coined by Dr G. Forman
This approach asks the children to represent, with marks, his/her current theory about how something works;not simply to make a representation of the shape or look of an event, but to draw an explanation of how it all works; that is, to draw his understanding. The child may go through various steps in this process.
The child commits his ideas to paper before actually viewing the event. having completed the drawing, he/she then visits the event or action in his/her drawing. The child returns to the drawing table to draw the combination of his ideas and his memory of what he saw. Together, these three parts demonstrate that children draw what they know (before the visit) and can study their drawings (after their visit) to help them reconstruct an incomplete theory (after the visit).
It is important to ask a child to draw before looking at an object so that drawing flows from the child's assumptions about function (for example how a bike works) rather than observation (how the bike looks as a static object).
In drawing to learn, one literally encourages the children to take risks and thus to make mistakes so that their misconceptions can become visible and thereby more explicitly repaired."

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Daisy-Hope for Spring!

The daisy is a beautiful bloom that holds much promise for the wonders of Spring!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Lion

Working with clay can be quite challenging especially when a kiln is not available. We introduce clay to our students when they are as young as 15 months so by the time they reach the JK and Sk classes they are excellent sculptors.

Under the masterful hands of these two girls, a block of clay became "The Lion."

This was an extension of the Mascot that was designed for the class soccer game.(post can be viewed under November 29, 2010)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A City is A Place with Voices-In Rome you long for the country; in the country - oh inconstant! - you praise the distant city to the stars. ~Horace, Satires

One of the most reoccurring interests in our schools is the City . The sounds, the buildings, the hustle and bustle captivates the children. Taylor aged 4 (the child in these photos) had some interesting theories on city life.

"A city has voices, lots of voices. People moving everywhere. There are lots of cars and buses and office buildings where people go to work. There are banks where they keep all the money. There are tall buildings but no houses. People don't live in cities just work there. The best part is the sky scrapers. Those are the building that touch the clouds! And one more thing there are no trees in the city, none!"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The See Saw in the Forest

These children were pleasantly surprised when they discovered this seesaw in the forest. They were all given the opportunity to jump aboard and try to teeter it back and forth. It was interesting to watch the children as they negotiated ways to make the log shift. The difficulty lay in the fact that the log was not evenly distributed on the fulcrum (although it appeared to be) therefore equal weight on either side would not move it. The weight needed to be heavier on the short side but could the children figure this out?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Children Always Find Interesting Ways...

Practicing early math skills doesn't have to be tedious for young children. When this snowman was made using "Loose Materials" the children commented that he was a "big snowman."
"Just how big is he?" asked their teacher. "How can we measure him?"
The children decided to use their hands and their shoes as their non standard measuring tools.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Is Anyone Looking for Forest Animals

The Mitten by Jan Brett is a classroom favorite and every winter the children find new ways to bring the characters of this delightful tale to life. This group of JK/SK students is preparing these masks for a class production. They are already able to recite the entire story.