With any project, we immerse ourselves in the project and provide the children with as many opportunities as possible to explore items, sketch, represent, discuss, and learn new vocabulary. The Tree project was no different. We are fortunate to have an outdoor place space, which the children and families have named the Beehive, be a certified Nature Explore classroom (for more information check out arborday.org). After the holidays, we ask families to donate their evergreen trees so that we can add them to our playground. We had the opportunity to explore these trees both in and outdoors.
While indoors, we spent time using magnifying glasses and looking at the pine needles up close. We created lists of our observations several days before even begin to sketch. Some of the children added words such as:
We then began to sketch what we were noticing. Since we have been spending time creating lists about the characteristics of the item we are sketching we have noticed more detailed sketches. The first time we tried this technique, our children wanted to sketch right away. We talked about the importance of observing and that sometimes you notice things you did not know if you continue to observe. The second time we tried the activity, the children asked to sketch on the second day of observation. After continuing the technique for several weeks, some of our older children are beginning to create their own lists of characteristics with friends!
You can create observation lists with the children in your classroom! Begin with an item of interest (preferably project or nature based). Set the item out and tell children you would like to create a list of items. Model by making the first statement and encourage children to share. The very first time may not turn out as anticipated but have faith! Once you try it, share with us! We’d love to hear your success and what we can do to help!