As most of you know, our school is lab school for the University in our area, Saint Ambrose University. This last few week, we have been preparing for the play that we were going to be able to go see at the Fine Art’s building on Campus. Several children had been to the play in years past and began to explain their experiences at this play. This then continued with conversations and experiences that children had in their home life as well as their school experiences. The children watched and followed along with a book on the IPad which shared the story of Alice in Wonderland. After reading the story several times, the children began to retell the story. After retelling the story on several occasions, the children began to talk about how they could represent this story in a play like form.
We spent several days creating stages and acting out the story. On one day, all of the children’s ideas thoughts and retelling’s became a play. All participated in the event in various ways and for various time periods from 10 minutes to two hours. We had each part that we believed or knew would be at the play including a person to give out tickets, a stage, curtains, costumes, actors/actresses, and seats. The children then invited us for their production. During this time, we also talked about what we would see at the “big campus” as dubbed by the children when we went. The answers to these questions then became embedded in their play.
We had the opportunity to see the play yesterday and we had so many new experiences! In the afternoon, we had a group just devoted to what surprised us! The children shared not only what surprised them but then moved on to what interested them, what they wondered about, and what they would like to learn more about. Today, we had more in-depth play from our visit. The children used a bigger more curtain like fabric to use as their curtain. More chairs were used as seats then before and they were in more visible rows then before. The costumes were more elaborate and they now had a sound that would let you know the play was beginning. At lunch, talk turned to the different kinds of plays and places plays are held.
The children learned so much through this experience and are still learning. Play is a wonderful way to help introduce a new, unknown topic and this helps the children feel more comfortable about the situation as well! As many early childhood teachers, professors, and specialists will say, “play is work for the young child!”
Until next time,
We brought a green pumpkin in from our garden and several small orange pumpkins in our classroom. We began by sketching the first pumpkin from our garden as friends gathered at the table. During this time, children took their learning into their own hands by working together to determine how to spell pumpkin. Several children spent time observing the pumpkins and only used green or an orange colored pencil to sketch their pumpkin.
After children had the opportunity to sketch, the children began to investigate the small pumpkins. We ordered them by size, sorted, classified, and measured them. For the first time, we used a scale which measured in ounces. At the beginning, the children would say, “This is zero! How can it be zero?” We then discussed that the scale was measuring in ounces. We began to identify the measurement of each pumpkin and documented this by adding the information to a chart. Most of the pumpkins were about 8 to 20 ounces.
We then created a chart about what color we thought would be inside each pumpkin. Each child had an opportunity to document their prediction. Most children thought that the green pumpkin would be orange inside and the orange pumpkin would be green inside. We opened them and were surprised to see so many differences and similarities between the two pumpkins so we decided to then make a Venn diagram. For those of you unfamiliar with these, we made two circles that interlocked. In each circle, we put the characteristics of each pumpkin. In the space where the circles interlocked, we put the similarities.
This activity started as sketching and ended up meeting objectives, encouraging the children to work together to cut through the pumpkins (I only verbalized ideas but never helped the children cut through the pumpkins!), and provided us opportunities to use our scientific inquiry skills.
Is there a teachable moment which took you further into learning? How did it start? What made you encourage the children to keep working despite the “agenda” you already had?
We find it very important to talk and base our play around meaningful experiences for the children. With election day being on Tuesday, the children came in on Monday with so much to share! They shared the news reports they had been seeing, who the candidates were for president, and how you needed to cast you vote. This began our two-day voting sessions! Two children sky-rocketed this event by creating their own polling stations. They used small pieces of paper and had children write their names on these and then as the voting continued children then wrote their candidates names.
On Tuesday, children were voting all morning. Polling stations were prepared and children voted for their favorite candidate. We kept our computer and Ipad turned to CNN and Fox news for any information about the voting! Some children were curious about who exactly were Mitt Romney and Barak Obama so we found information about the two of them. The children were surprised to find out that they were parents too! We than discussed how adults can have many different “roles” and “jobs.”
Some objectives we were able to document in the Creative Curriculum for included:
- Social Emotional: 2a.Establishes and sustains positive relationships through peer interactions
- Language: 10a Uses appropriate conversational and other communication skills: Engages in conversations
- Cognitive: 11a Demonstrates positive approaches to learning: attends and engages
- Cognitive: 11b Demonstrates positive approaches to learning: persist
- Literacy: 19a Demonstrates emergent writing skills: writes name and writes to convey meaning
- Social Studies:30 Shows basic understanding of people and how they live
How can you make an experience meaningful for children? Have you already? If so, how? We’d love to hear it!