Friday, April 29, 2011

A New Life

Each year we hatch chicks to mark the beginning of Spring. Watching the eggs hatch is remarkable. The chicks stay on site for a week and then we return them to the farm.

I think the egg comes first. If there's no egg then you can't have a chicken!

The baby chick pops out of the egg when he's ready! He has to work really hard to get out!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How Do Emails Travel?

Communicating through Technology is common place for this generation. In fact children as young as two are using Skype to speak to parents who are working out of the country! It's not surprising to note that children have their own ideas on how emails travel around the world. This particular experience theory on how emails travel from one side of the world to the other came to light when an SK student travelled to China for a month. She kept in touch with her friends through email.

The letter in the tubing reads:
Hi Jocelyn this is Faith and Hailey and Shannon. How are you? We miss you.

Faith's Theory :Our message to Jocelyn, who is in China for a visit, is typed on the computer and it goes through a wire. The wire is underground in a tube. The tube passes inside a pipe and the pipe goes all the way to Hong Kong, China where Jocelyn's computer is. The email goes up the wire into Jocelyn's computer and then Jocelyn can see our letter and read it.
Shannon's Theory: The letters are in the wire and they travel from Canada to China. I think that the pipes are underground and the squirrels put them all together and make sure they don't break.
Hailey adds to Shannon's thinking: Jocelyn can see the message and writes back to us and the letters go back into the wire again and come to our computer in the classroom.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everyone Needs A Mother, Even Martians!

Storybooks and Movies, what a wonderful combination. Watching a favorite movie come to life presents many exceptional learning opportunities. Just why do we need mothers? Have you ever thought to ask your children this interesting question?
After reading the book and before watching the movie, Mars Needs Moms, the children designed these Martians and explained why each of them needed a mother. As you'll see the needs of the Martian children are much the same as the children here on Earth; mothers exist to provide tender loving care, nourishment, meet basic needs, to cart children around, and to be a perfect play mate.
The joys of Motherhood!

This is Mikayla. She  likes to watch movies. She's a really good dancer. She likes to play with her toys. Mikayla needs a mom to tuck her in bed at night.

This is Earth. It's not friendly, don't touch it because it's poisonous. It shoots water out of it's nose, and eats worms, and flowers. Earth needs a mom so she can feed him and play with him.

Mickey Mouse is nice, she is a girl. She likes to eat bread, and soup. She likes to make puzzles. She needs a mom in case she gets hurt, the mom can help her.

Leelan does the splits and the flips. He likes to go on dragons, and he likes to fight dragons. He needs a mom to help him learn to use a sword so he can fight better. He likes to play with Leav and Alan. They go on the swings, the monkey bars, and dance.

This is Carrot. Carrot needs a mother to play with and tuck her in at night.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Testing a Child's Theory

Giada discovered a fallen tree branch in the playground. It already had tiny buds waiting to bloom.  How could she save it?
"I want to keep this so it will grow big flowers!" she said.
"How can you keep it?" the teacher asked.
"We can take it inside and put it in some water to make it grow."
So the teacher placed the branch in a container of water and over the course of a few weeks the tiny buds began to open.
"What happened?" the teacher asked.
"My buds did grow!" she replied.
Giada's theory was correct-a little water preserved her fallen tree branch. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Fallen Tree

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could pick up this fallen tree and transport it to our playground. Nature certainly has a way for providing children with wonderful opportunities to engage. The children were excited to discover this fallen tree in the forest. There was no time to waste as they found many interesting ways to use it.  Natalie climbed aboard and practiced her balancing; moving both forward and backward along the surface. As she swayed, she stretched out her arms for additional support. When she was done she joined her classmates on the train ride to Kalamazoo!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sometimes words are not Enough

Children are not always able to convey all that they understand about an event but their drawing say more than words could possibly express.

The Tsunami came after the earthquake and some people drowned. The cars and houses were under the water.

The water came and it lifted the houses and pushed the people and cars under. They couldn't swim because the water was so strong! I feel so sad that people died. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of Monet

Monet was born on November 14, 1840 in Paris. There are no words to describe the work of this amazing artist who sought to paint the world exactly how he saw it, not how he knew it should look. So rather than painting a myriad of separate leaves, he depicted splashes of constantly changing light and color.

Could this group of young children capture his unique use of color?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

From Hand to Mind

There is no better way for children to learn math than through hands on experiences. A set of wood sticks in the playground presented Jacob with the perfect opportunity to work with sets of fives and ones. These types of activities are common place in our schools.

Jacob uses groups of fives and ones to set up his equation- a skill the children were working on in class.

He counts!

His total is 16.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Does the Tallest Child have the Tallest Shadow?

Why is it that children constantly battle over who is the biggest, the tallest, the fastest and overall the best? Needless to say that these sorts of discussions present wonderful opportunities for learning. As we know children often confuse the terms big, small, short and tall. However, we understand what their intentions are and in our discussions we offer the children the words that best fit their thinking.
These three young girls were engaged in a debate about their respective shadows. Each girl was certain that her own shadow was the "longest."

The teacher asked a question, "How do you think we can decide which shadow is the tallest?"

"We can just look and see," replied one of the girls.

"No we can't because we are moving around and the shadows change, " replied her friend.

Since these children were accustomed to using "loose materials" they decided to outline the shadows using small pebbles.

When they were finished they stood back and looked at their shadows. "Look!" said one of the girls. "You are the tallest, so your shadow is the tallest just like you!"
The girls begin outlining the first shadow using the pebbles.
The second child stands next to the first shadow, keeping with the same base line.
The third child encounters a small problem when she realizes that her shadow will fall into the trees if she uses the same base line. She decides to move back a bit.
The girls look at the three outlined shadows and determine that the third shadow's length was not greatly affected by the shifted baseline. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Is a Shadow always Black?

"Are shadows always black?" a child asks.

A shadow is caused by an object blocking light so naturally it would appear to be black but
translucent objects create colorful shadows! The materials provided in this experience helped this group of children answer their own question. Before they were given the translucent objects they used opaque items which did in fact cast black shadows.

These are transparent colored blocks.
These are adhesive transparent shapes.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can we bring Reggio Home?

Children find joy in the simplest of things!

As I meandered through the cobble stone streets and Piazzas of Reggio Emilia, I asked myself the same question that I had been asking since I first discovered this unique pedagogy. Can we bring it home and give it meaning in our own context?

This was my second visit to the schools of Reggio Emilia and once again I was amazed by the environments, the richness of the materials, the intriguing displays, the quality of the documentation, and the interactions between teachers, children, colleagues and the community.

On my first visit I walked around dumb struck, trying to understand how such a rich pedagogy could exist. However, this time, since the initial awe factor had dissipated, I attended with purpose. I wanted to see the Loris Malaguzzi Centre; a place designed to house the exhibit, the home of the light atelier, a place where teachers from around the world meet and the first school which embodies both preschoolers and the early grades of elementary school.

When our study group entered the Loris Malaguzzi centre, I watched the faces of the attendees. For most everyone this was a first encounter with Reggio in Italy so I was not surprised to see pens move frantically across notes pads; perhaps they were hoping to remember enough to take it home and use some of what they saw. Certainly that was how I was on my first visit.

I've learned, over the last fifteen years, that you really can't bring Reggio home. But you can learn from it and let it enrich your own context. As I visit schools in both Ontario and abroad I see that no two contexts work in the same way. Environments, documentation, interpretation, it all differs because we all differ.  And that's okay! It is the richness of this diversity that propels our work as teachers.

One thing I know for certain, children all over the world,  live with their hearts, souls and minds connected to the universe. They find joy in the simplest of things. Children in Italy chase pigeons in the Piazzas. Children in Canada feel the wind blow through their hair as they swish across an ice rink. Children of Mexico run in the sand and feel the marvelous crash of the ocean waves on their toes.

The question then to ask is what do we feel as adults?  What are our intentions and why have we chosen to spend our lives enriching the contexts of education for children? When you find your answer, then you too will have found a small part of Reggio because, in my opinion, the heart of this pedagogy lies in the deep commitment to giving value to the child and the culture of childhood.

And so to honour the deep commitment of all my teachers, I share the entries in this blog with all of you so that we may all grow as a community of teachers supporting the children of the world.

A  blessing on you all for your tireless work and for visiting this site. It has been my extreme honour to dialogue with teachers from around the world. I look forward to our continuing exchange of ideas.

It is all for the children of the world!