Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's a Colorful World

It's a colorful world and the best way to explore it is by engaging our senses.
The combination of light, shadow and sorting provides a rich experience for these young preschoolers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Inquiry Based Learning-Small Word, Big Concept

There's been such a buzz of late with the concept of inquiry based learning. Especially since the new Full Day Learning for Kindergarten in Ontario is based on this model. Truth be told, there have been small pockets of child care centres in Canada that have been following this model for a very long time. 
Call it what you will; inquiry based, project work, child initiated, inspired learning, they all find their root in the Reggio Approach.
Twenty years ago, I discovered this unique system. Today I'm still discovering the Reggio Approach. You'd think after three visits to Italy, countless workshops, trips to the US, conferences and teaching at Centennial College, that I'd be a master.
Think again.
I'm a student!
There are so many challenges in this type of system.
How do you follow the lead of the children?
Are you truly basing your work on their inquiry, their thinking and theory?
Are you deconstructing their thoughts and then assisting them in constructing new knowledge?
What materials do you offer, what languages will best support the inquiry, how are the children being engaged in the process... The questions go on.
Then you must document, record the journey of learning and use it to support further investigation.
It is so easy to get caught up in the wonderful  posts of pinterest, facebook and blogs but you should proceed with caution.
This work, if authentic is based on the experiences of the working group and should be used only if they fit your experiences. 
You cannot fit the work to the experience. Chances are it may not turn out as planned.
Just my thoughts.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Nature's Gift!

Do you find yourself searching for those perfect "loose or natural materials" to provoke thoughtful work?
Look no further than the front yard.
Nature provides the perfect gift, an abundance of autumn leaves.
In the hands of young children, the possibilities are endless.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Play is Not a Simple Act!

Play, is it the frivolous work of childhood?
If we consider Bob Hughes' (play theorist and activist) "Taxonomy of Play Types" in which he outlines 16 types of  play, we can only marvel at its true complexity:
social, socio-dramatic (refers to play involving acting out scripts, scenes, and characters), rough-and-tumble, exploratory, object, creative, communication, deep, recapitulative ( reflecting on actions and giving new form and meaning), symbolic, fantasy, dramatic, imaginative, loco-motor, mastery and role play.
How many of these do children engage in during the course of a day ?
What is the role of the teacher in this complex process? 
Teachers must be keen observers. This does not imply that they should sit idly by waiting for play to happen. They must be master facilitators who make play ( thoughtfully planned, rich in context) possible. This type of teacher nurtures mastery in play. She also understands that environment must support

spontaneous play, initiated by children, so they may construct their own knowledge, test theories through trial and error, engage in discourse, respect opinions, and change the course of their actions for new results.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Way up High In the Apple Tree

Autumn, the season of colors and harvest. And what would it be without the bounty of the apple trees?
Well before children can make this type of a tree, they must master the basic skills of working with Plasticine, an unyielding modelling media. Ripping, rolling, pinching, pressing and of course using the pasta maker are some of the necessary skills to create this type of result. Here's a little tip, warm it in the microwave!                 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What is the Teacher's Role?

When children produce this type of thinking, I like to call it that, we can't help but marvel at the complexity. 

Here are some considerations. What is the role of the teacher during this process? Should she sit by and observe, taking notes or should she be asking questions? Does the process of asking questions while the child works, change the outcome and does the questioning distract the child? 

Should she wait until the child is finished to ask questions?
What questions or comments should the teacher ask or make? Will her line of questions redirect the child's thinking? 
There is much to consider when we engage with children. 
Knowing "when" is the key.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Interesting Patterns!

When you look at this child's work you know she understands simple patters. However, there is a great deal of complexity in her work. She first stacked the large spool to make two three tier to towers. She then began to place the smaller spools around the base of each large spool in one of her towers. Then each small spool welcomed one wooden stick. Those that didn't fit were tossed over her shoulder (which was quite funny. The teacher asked her to drop them into a bucket instead) Once the first tower was complete she proceeded to work on the second tower, this time using translucent cups. Each cup welcomed one wooden disc or plastic button topped off with one mosaic tile. A total of two hours of work. She also had to figure out how to reach the top towers. She asked that a stool be placed on top of the table!