Since the children have been very interested in building houses during Exploration time…I thought that I would surprise them with one. When the children were at recess I set up a house with a curtain, picnic blanket, blocks and our stuffed animals set up at the table.
When the children came into the room they were very surprised to see this scene. They immediately asked me why I set it up. I told them that I was so busy with my teacher work and I didn’t see what happened. I told them that when I returned back to the classroom, the house was set up. They started asking questions and offering ideas of who was responsible. Was it the animals themselves? Was it one of our neighboring teachers (Ms. Natalie or Mr. K.)? The Ayi or Ms. Laura? Since we are already in the Halloween spirit, they wondered if it was a fairy or a good witch.
The reason for not admitting that I was responsible for setting up this scene was more than just for fun. I set it up as a provocation. I knew that the children would be surprised and interested in the house. I also knew that they would have many questions about how, why and who. Instead of me giving the children the facts, I wanted them to share their thoughts and ideas. Many times throughout the day teachers do not answer many of the children’s questions. We put the questions back onto them and their classmates. We are interested in hearing their theories and reasoning. It doesn’t matter whether the children’s theories are believable or not. What we are looking for is that the children are developing their critical thinking skills. That they are developing the ability to
communicate when formulating and sharing their ideas.
Here is a compilation of our rainy day explorations.
In Pre K2, our math work is about hands on exploring at the concept level. Several times a week we have Math Centers after lunch-recess. During our Math Centers we are counting, matching, sorting, comparing, measuring and drawing. We set up activities that are both teacher guided and open exploration.
The Laser Bugs were a bit sad that the rain was too heavy to have our Field Day! They were looking forward to putting on their Laser Bug uniforms and showing their parents the P.E. skills that they had learned this year. Never the less, we still put on our Laser Bug uniforms and had an exciting morning together. We had a dance party, read books together, took photos of each other, colored our own Laser Bugs and did exercise videos together. We are looking forward to the postponed date when we can wear our uniforms and have our parents cheer us on!
We got some cool old-school style robots, the kind that you have to wind up. We have been using them during math centers in a few different ways. First we must count and only wind them 4 times. Once the robots start walking, we either count the amount of steps that they take or we use rulers to measure how far they go.
The Spy Kids (our 4th grade reading buddies) came to mentor the Laser Bugs on how to properly hold the iPads and to take photos. The 4th grade teacher had prepared her students by having a discussion on how they could coach the Laser Bugs in their photo taking. She had explained to them in that the Laser Bugs had begun to practice taking photos in their classroom with their teachers. She suggested that they come up with an agreed criteria, that was similar to what the Laser Bugs were already learning. Also because of the Laser Bugs’ age she encouraged that the goals should be clear and an appropriate amount. The Spy Kids came up with a plan of action and decided on the skills that they would help the Laser Bugs with.
-Holding the iPad still
-Counting to 3 (allowing time to steady hands and focus)
-Pressing the button only one time (so we only here one click)
A lot of smiles, giggles and rich conversations were generated throughout the learning experience. Both the big and small students took turns posing and taking photos as they walked around the Mountianside campus. The Spy Kids did a great job giving directions to the Laser Bugs, they were clear, patient and kind to their small buddies. The best part is that teachers could see the Spy Kids’ excitement while taking on the role as mentor.
We often put different art supplies on the table for open exploration. On this day, we set out recycled cardboard from packaging, scraps of fabrics, pompoms, colored glue and permanent markers. The Laser Bugs use their creative thinking and go to work!
The Laser Bugs had a great time hunting for book characters during Book Week. They laughed with delight each time they found a new character! We even added math (Data Handling) and literacy elements to this activity. As the Laser Bugs walked around the Mountianside campus with their clipboards, they wrote a check mark for every character that they saw. After the hunt the children counted up all their check marks and drew the characters that they liked.
Early Learners need ample time to explore open ended, hands on math centers/activities. It is also important that the math concepts that they are introduced to can be applied into their everyday activities so they can understand how it fits into their daily lives.
In the classroom we provide and encourage ample time for building. Not just during open exploration times, but as a math center or group activity. On the surface, building maybe seen only as play, however if you take a deeper look, the important math work becomes apparent.
In Preschool, children are beginning to develop their Geometry Thinking through the basis of shape, space and location. Young Learners need the time to practice arranging and rearranging objects to develop their Spatial Learning. Working with blocks and Lego help children develop an understanding of how objects can be arranged and positioned within a given space. Please watch the video taken from www.thekidshouldseethis.com below. Please pay attention to it’s important message and then apply that new understanding to the photo collages.
“Mathematical experiences for very young children should build largely upon their play and the natural relationships between learning and life in their daily activities, interests, and questions.” (Early Childhood Today, www.scholastic.com)