Let's begin with the sea creature exploration. It began one afternoon during "quiet time" when children typically find something to do independently in the classroom. (The children understand it as quiet time because it happens while our JK friends are napping.) One child decided to start building with magna tiles and then discovered a basket of sea creatures on a shelf. This led to the creation of a "sea floor" constructed from magna tiles and placement of sea creatures through the sea floor. This scene caught the attention of another child, and then another. Eventually, one-by-one, each child left their independent activity to join the imaginative sea play. The gathering and play was unprompted by me as the teacher, rather was an organic development of student choice and curiosity. This kind of play happened for three consecutive days after lunch and included all children. It was quite an interesting development to observe and shows the human desire for interest and participation in collaborative play. It also highlights the natural capacity children have to participate in a community.
For a second example of our community development, I'll follow up on a recent student idea to build a table for our classroom play space. As you'll see in the pictures above, our class play space was intentionally empty at the beginning of the school year. As play evolved and needs were identified, we decided as a class to add some components for more engaging and interactive play. You'll see what appears to be a stove, wagon and table. The table was a building project we took on as a group and extended over the course of two weeks. The process of planning, selecting appropriate materials, and constructing took time and effort. In the video below, you'll see a little bit of the process and the culminating presentation at a Friday all-school meeting. Sharing something from the SK class is one aspect of the all-school meeting. For this meeting, our class elected to share the table. As you'll see in the video, the students are proud of their work and confident to share what they've done with other children. Of special interest to share with others was the different feel between vinyl and duct tape. Two types of tape we used for the table's surface.
The table is just the first of what might be many more building projects in the classroom and possibly beyond. I will continue to respond to the interests and learning desires of the children. Check back to see what happens next!
As classroom explorations continue, play and creativity are running rampant. Through play students have been transforming objects into just about anything they can imagine. Play is a powerful way for children to become familiar with new materials and is also a natural way for a teacher to engage thinking, introduce concepts, and develop appropriate skill sets. Below is a video that highlights this kind of learning experience as I introduced pattern blocks to the class.
Pattern blocks were introduced because the children were having a conversation about the need for a table and chairs in the "dramatic play" area. I asked if they wanted to make a table, to which they responded with a resounding yes. We started talking about tables and how they are constructed. We flipped over a table in the classroom to examine its parts, get some ideas, and deepen our understanding of the structural components in preparation for our project. As we talked about our plan for a table, it was suggested that we decorate it. I asked what kind of decorations and someone suggested patterns. So, pattern blocks were introduced and played with in preparation for table decoration. And yes, we are actually going to make a table. You can get a peek at some of the materials and process in the slideshow below.
Another aspect of play in the classroom involves numbers and card games. We began "number play" this week. Similar to "word play", this is a time where children experience and "play" with numbers. This week, I have been using a standard deck of playing cards and a deck of "Uno" game cards. Our class has been learning how to play together while developing mathematical concepts like counting, ordinal numbers, sequencing, and patterns. I have also used the cards to visualize number patterns and develop algebraic thinking through identification of missing numbers in sequences. (ex. 1, 2, 3, _ , 5, 6) Ask your child about the games we've been playing. You might even want to try playing them at home!
We're only on the third day and already its seems so much is happening! We've had a number of great experiences during the day that I want to highlight, so for this post I am going to overview some of our main daily activities and focus on a material introduction and a longer investigation possibility.
During classroom exploration the last couple days, two major developments happened. A question arose while working with an individual student: What can we make out of a box? This seemed to ignite an interested response from other students so I announced to the class that we were about to have a brainstorm! After helping them break down and define the word, we launched into a fury of ideas and suggestions. Some ideas included a printer, typewriter, rocket ship, house, bathtub (waterproof it), shapes, book, blocks, bricks (for building), refrigerator, freezer, shelf, car, wheels, disco ball, easel, watering can.
A day later, we revisited the box discussion and one of the children wanted to use some wire to create with their box. This prompted the class's interest in wire, so I introduced our kids to wire. They played with the characteristics; ability to be straight, curved, wound around objects, etc. As with the introduction of any material, there is a necessary time for children to play with new materials, so that's what they did, PLAY!
With the curiosity about things we can make with a box, and the introduction of wire, it's exciting to see where our explorations lead next! I have a feeling that if the box question continues circulating, we will be engaging in a longer term investigation and project.
This site was created by Colin Reynolds as the SK Lead Teacher for the 2014-2015 school year. Stephanie Holdridge was the apprentice teacher for the academic year.. You can contact me via e-mail or follow me on Twitter.