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Posts tagged ‘following children’s lead’

The Musical

Check out our newest production, a musical, performed on Friday! This was completely child led. Teachers were there to support younger children by helping them follow the directions of their peers. Teachers were also used to help reach and find items for the children. The children would come up with a description of what they needed and the teacher would try to find it and give the children support based on their needs. Besides that, the children did all of this work. Teachers asked for clarification, observed, and questioned the children to help with higher order thinking skills.

Children begin talking about what production they would like to create for the day. The children decide they would like to do a musical but are not sure of the music they would like to do. An older child suggests making a list to vote on. He copies words from several books and cds until they narrow down their voting system. Children vote and decide tohave a musical. They then start to gather items as they think of what play they would like to do. The begin by working to figure out what they need. They use classroom books and technology the children create a list of jobs we need. Friends then copy the words onto a sticker and add it to their shirts. Some of the jobs included lighting, stage manager, office box, ticket master, actresses and actors.

The girls work on creating the stage. Three boys work to set up the seats for the show. Several children begin to create tickets out of perforated paper that was in the classroom. One child cuts the tickets and gathers friends in an area to wait for ticket sales to begin. As he prepares this section, another child shares that we need to know when the show will start. A child over hears and says they will take on that job. He begins to creates a clock on a piece of paper making a circle and then copying the numbers one through twelve. He counts down to two minutes and then begins to put friends in their positions to begin the show. The audience members begin to buy the tickets. They are then told to move to another location where a child is waiting for them. This child created a ticket booth with a laundry basket to catch tickets and a block with a whole in it to put the cut tickets through. She takes tickets and shows friends to a friend who shows the audience members where their seats are located. The audience sits down and the narrator, tells friends, “Ladies and Gentleman!” All the girls in the room then use the Greg and Steve songs to act out their musical. Up in the loft, boys have created lighting and video cameras based on pictures they have seen from a friends trip to the theatre. They also use a flashlight as a spotlight to follow the actresses.

Stay tuned as we add more detail to our play,

-AIH

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Bringing the Theatre to life

We did it again and followed the lead of the children which ALWAYS has its benefits. We have decided that the children were done with the zoo project which meant we would no longer continue to study the elephants, culminate, and investigate further as we would traditionally do with a project. This project has some set backs as we could not have many hands on items as it is hard to bring an elephant in a classroom (!!!), Kara and I had both come back from maternity leave and were getting used to our new room, and we had children brand new to project work.

20121207-060745.jpgAs we prepared for the play that we were going to see at the “Big Campus” or St. Ambrose University (for those of you who are new to our blog, we are their lab school), we started to have children ask questions and wonder about the theatre. Since the play, the children have dedicated their time to stages, plays, musicals, and dinner theatres. Every child has participated in the making, creating, and acting out of a production every day whether it be a five-minute or a two-hour investment. We felt like it was hard to pull in elephants with such excitement and joy for this current interest. We felt like we would be stopping this phenomenal play, interactions with children who typically did not interact, and the problem solving as they created scenery and costumes. Yesterday, my classroom staff and our director determined and made our final decision to follow their lead and begin a theatre project. This morning as children were sitting at the table and discussing what play we should create today, I shared that I thought maybe we should switch projects. The children began all talking at the same time saying:

  • “Can we study the theatre?
  • “Let’s learn about a dinner theatre?
  • “Can we find out about costumes?”
  • “Who can help us learn about it?”
  • “Can we go back to the big campus?”

This solidified our thoughts and observations, the theatre project it is! When I said, I agreed that we should do a theatre project, several children shouted, clapped, and jumped! For those of you new 20121207-060817.jpgto project work, it can be started off with a catalytic event or a continued thread of interest. The beginning of this project can be attributed to the catalytic event of the Alice in Wonderland production at the University. We will begin to create a web of what we know, the teachers will make an anticipatory web, and document our questions. As Lilian Katz has said before, “the best projects are those where everyone learns (this includes the teachers and families, too!).” The following weeks will be pure hands-on investigation as we enter the second phase of our project. To learn more about project work, select project work under the word categories.

This morning, we listened to the book, The Three Little Pigs. We created lists of items we needed, how to make each item, characters, and who would be playing each role. We then got to work! We continued to replay the story to help us gather materials and set up the play. After an hour, the production was ready! A child used a karaoke machine to narrator the story and remind characters of their positions.

Stay tuned as we learn more about the theatre!

-AIH

 

 

Coconut Tree

After about two weeks of investigations, sketching, and learning about the coconut tree.  The children wanted to represent their knowledge by creating two coconut palm trees in our classroom.  One child created the plan of how to make the coconut trees and what materials needed to be gathered to begin the representing.  Kara documented all of her ideas and then the child and I went into the storage room to gather the materials.

Once in the classroom, the children began the representing!  They started by building up blocks around the poles so that the children could reach the top of the poles.  The then used tan colored paper to cover both poles.  The children used fine motor skills and based on their abilities cut the tape with scissors, tore it, and/or helped a peer in this process.  During this process, several children worked on other tasks.  Some children worked on rolling model magic into small balls.  Another group, spent time rolling or painting the model magic brown.  A child (3.3 years old) spent time in the back of the room working with the green paper and had a book near him for reference.  Kara observed him for several minutes and then asked him what he was doing.  He shared he was making slits in the green paper to make the green paper look like the palm leaves in the book. 

A child who had been to Florida before remembered that coconuts and the bark of a coconut tree had a different texture to it.  The children decided to add a thick twine to our poles and some of our coconuts. 

You can encourage children to represent by offering them a treasure chest.  A treasure chest is a box of items that we use for representing.  We started by having the children add items they thought were important to creating various items.  We continue to add as our box becomes empty.  We have a list below but the opportunities are endless!  Please let us know what is in your treasure chest if you have started one!

Some items in our treasure chest include:

  • twine
  • string
  • bark
  • twigs
  • easter grass
  • burlap
  • wax paper
  • foil
  • wire

We continue investigating….

-AIH

Catalytic Event

We had our catalytic event for our new project: Trees.

The children created the Trees for our Tree Project!

My assistant and I had just finished reading a book that was given to us by our director called Inspiring Spaces for Young Children.  During the early morning, several children started to decorate the poles that are in our classroom.  As they used paper to tape around the pole, Kara (my assistant) shared that it looked like the book we had been reading where the classroom used the poles in their classroom to construct trees.  One of the children asked Kara if she could bring the book into the classroom so the children could see it.  As they were creating, the rest of the children were with me at snack.  We began talking about what we knew was on trees.  The children created a long list of items which included: bark, branches, leaves, snow, birds, birds nests, and bird houses.  The children then created a list of materials for me to get when I took snack back.  These items included pipe cleaners, model magic, string, and “whatever looked tree like.”

Once the materials were brought to the children, Kara and I stood back encouraging the children to tell us what to do.  The children broke out in work sessions.   The children broke into groups including: wrapping the pole, coloring leaves, cutting tape and adding it to leaves, adding leaves to the trees, wrapping twine around the pole, making birds, birds nests, bird houses, covering paper towel rolls, and adding the rolls to the tree as branches.

Each child spent time creating something for the tree.  Some children spent thirty minutes in this process while others spent as much as two hours!!  As parents came in for pick-up, the children were so excited to share their hard work. 

How you can find the beginning of a project in your room…

  • begin documenting common threads on children’s play
  • share your ideas and thoughts with the teachers in your classroom
  • once you believe you have determined the common thread; bring in an item that would support that

Stay tuned for our next adventure!

-AIH

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