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Archive for February, 2011

Coconut Investigation

Kara holds the coconut above the bowl as the coconut juice runs in.

After creating our knowledge and question web, the children shared stories about experiences they had with trees.  During this discussion, several children sketched palm trees.  More than half of the class had been to Florida in the last year and a discussion started to form about the trees they saw when at Disney World or when they were in Florida. 

We decided, based on the children’s interest, that we would begin learning about the Coconut Palm Tree.  The children began by reading books about Coconut Palm Trees and looking at pictures.  Through their investigations, they started to notice certain characteristics about the trees and they started creating representations in the form of sketches.  Our classroom had a coconut on our science shelf and a child noticed it.  They took it off the shelf and began to use their senses to explore it, “It is hard and I do not think anything is in it.”  The child then took it to every child asking them if they thought anything was inside the coconut.  The pictures we took involve children tapping it, shaking it, putting their ear up to it, and spinning it around in a circle.  After the children predicted what was is in it, they then decided to create a list of how they thought they could open the coconut.  Kara sat down with the children and documented their responses.  As she wrote their ideas down, she encouraged the children to offer sounds to the letters she was writing, spell a sight word or a vocabulary word (for example, tree and leaf), or identify letters in her writing.  After the list was created, the children hung it up.  They kept it hung up for an entire day and as children had ideas they were added to the list.

The following day, the children gathered their list, the materials they would need based on their list, and began to experiment.  They followed the list in numerical order until they made it to the one that opened the coconut which was the scissors.  Once inside the coconut from our shelf, the children found nothing inside!  For children who were not part of the investigation, the children who were brought their results to their peers to share.

The next day, Kara brought a store-bought coconut in the classroom.  This coconut was different from other ones we had seen.  It had a white outer shell which the children (and the teachers) predicted was the inside of the coconut.  We had predicted that the store had taken off the outer shell which we had cut into with the other shell.  We spent time measuring it, sketching it, and exploring it.  When the children were ready to open the coconut, they decided they needed to use scissors as that technique had worked for the last coconut.  The children used scissors and passed the coconut around the table.  With little help from Kara, the coconut was

The children are using tools to find out what is under the white covering of the coconut.

open.  “My hand got sticky!” a child exclaimed.  Another shared, “The coconut is dripping.”  A third child shared, “Wait!  I think there is something called coconut juice!’   Kara held the coconut over the bowl and the coconut emptied.  The children each had an opportunity to try it!  Some children did not like it, while others came for seconds!

After the juice emptied out, we discovered something.  The coconut ‘s white covering began to peel off.  We continued to peel off the white coating until we found a hollow brown circle.  We sketched what we had discovered!  We began sharing this knowledge with our families and friends!

Currently, our two different coconuts are sitting on a wood tray for exploration.  We also have  magnifying glasses in the tray so the children can observe, discover, and represent!

Share your investigations!  Anything that amazed you, you were inspired about, or have questions about!  We want to hear! 

Enjoy and keep inspiring!


Question Web

After creating our Knowledge Web, we begin to create our Question Web.  This is an opportunity for the children to feel empowered.  We are able to listen to their questions and by doing this we are telling them that their feelings are important to us, spend some one on one time as we write the question together, and begin to think of ways we could find our answer.  When the child asks a question, we ask if we can add it to the web.  The child and the teacher then walk over to the web and document their questions right away.  Our web’s are positioned at the height of the child and in group so that we can continue to reference it.  We spend time sounding out and identifying the letters in the question.  We often times talk about the grammatical structure of our question (the children are motivated during this time and exposure during motivation is so important!).  Sometimes during the creation of our Knowledge Web and during our personal stories that the children share, we begin to think of questions as well.  Even the youngest children can have questions about the project, but may not be able to pose in a question format.  For example, a young child may be very interested in a bird they see in a tree every day when they go outside.  One day the child may ask the teacher to look at the bird.  This may then produce some dialogue between the child and the teacher.  The teacher may say, based on her observations and the dialogue she/he may have shared with the child during this time period, “You were really interested in that bird!  Maybe you want to find out if birds live in trees? What birds eat?”  If the child is verbal enough to answer yes and no, they will tell you if you are on the right track!  If not, continue to observe and restate another question based on these observations.   In our classroom and with this project, we added our questions to our Weeping Willow Tree. 

We do set time aside for the children to ask the pressing questions that they have days after working on the knowledge web, but the question web will become the children’s working document.  They, with practice and modeling, will begin to ask to add questions on during play.  This will happen days and weeks after the initial creation.  As teachers, we have questions, too!  We add our questions on there as well. 

How can you start one in your classroom?

  • Start with a large piece of paper
  • Start small
  • Model the behavior
  • Use terminology during their play such as, “I wonder how the leaves fall off trees…”  or “I see squirrels in trees, but I wonder if they live there.”
  • As you write the question, as the child for help!
  • Encourage the children to document their own questions

As you begin your own webs, feel free to post questions here!  Don’t be shy!  I am sure someone out there has the same question or has been through the situation and is willingly to give you insight!  We are a team here! 

Everyone, everything, everyone has potential. -Claire Warden

Until next time-


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