Sunflowers & Math

Sunflowers were given to us recently. This worked out perfectly because the children have been learning about the parts of a plant through our current seed exploration.  The sunflowers started a conversation that brought us to math and counting.

As the children sat around the table they began describing details about a sunflower and what they knew:

“They have seeds inside it.”

“I ate them before!”

“There is honey in the black hole.”

“The sun grows sunflowers.”

“I see brown and yellow.”

“The stem feels soft.”

The materials provided for this provocation were sunflowers, white paper, black sharpies and oil pastels.

The children were asked to estimate how many petals they thought the sunflower had on it. This became a very interesting conversation because the children started off with a very small number, 6! The teacher let the children count and see that there were more than 6.

Working together the children began saying numbers that were greater than the previous number. They also began counting by 10s at one point. The numbers said were: 6,10,14,26,36,46,96,106,1000,1041,1091,1092, and lastly they stopped at 1093.  With the help of each other, their teachers and a number chart the children practiced writing all these numbers in the order they were said.

Usually the children focus on their observational drawings, but instead they taught each other identifying numbers, counting, and numbers greater than one another.

That is the beauty of the Reggio Emilia approach, that the teachers and children work together to expand the children’s wonder and knowledge. Children are self-learners, critical thinkers and not only do they teach themselves, they teach their friends and even their teachers!

“Posting a learning target before a lesson is like announcing what a gift is before it’s opened. Post a question. Bring curiosity and thinking back to the classroom.” -Credited to Venspired.com

Building and Demolishing

The red room children are extremely interested in building and demolishing!  This had had us revisit an older project a previous group of preschoolers did about a year ago.  It brought us to an understanding that to destroy something is actually an act of creativity!  They are exploring the physics of balancing materials, and volume – filling up the structures they create with materials in the room.
A common thing for us to do while we prepare project work, is to keep in mind the definition of specific things the children are doing.  Below I copied the definition of demolish.  The part that is standing out with us is “especially on purpose”.  This is in fact what our children are enjoying right now, while at the same time that they build, they want to equally find out how they can demolish.
demolish: verb (used with object)
1.

to destroy or ruin (a building or other structure), especially on purpose;tear down; raze.
We are inviting you to see if you can contribute to this inquiry with any recyclable materials that you may find at your home or work.  The tubes they are using were actually donated by two families.  One is a book binder, the paper is rolled in the tubes, and when they are done they cut the tubes for our children to use.  The other is a mattress company, they plastic wrap is rolled around them, and they donate them, and we cut them here at the school.  It has been a great resource for our children.
We would love to have anything that might continue to spark their innovation, curiosity, and creativity.  If you have any questions about this, or if you are questioning whether a material might be appropriate, I would be more than willing to talk to you.
Here is a short clip of some of the building they are doing!
```http://vimeo.com/118318640
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Food As A Language:Eggs

In every classroom of our school, from infants to elementary, our children use food as a language every week.  We believe in the importance of educating our children in the nutritional, science, and any other aspect of food that we can.  The teachers, inspired by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, are commited to providing opportunities for children to guide them in developing life skills that will ultimately lead them in the direction of good health.

We encourage everyone to watch: 4Ted Talk, Jamie Oliver:Teach Every Child About Food (http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver?language=en#t-130962). At the 2:11 mark Jamie explains something very shocking that all of us should hear and take to heart. The video is a very frank discussion of how the children of this day and age don’t know what whole food is and at the same time are over-dosing on sugar. Our goal is one of Jamie’s goals: teaching children to cook ten meals independently that aren’t made from ingredients, but are made from whole food. We purposely chose brown rice and discussed what a whole grain is. We purposely chose to include vegetables. We purposely chose real butter because it doesn’t contain a list of ingredients and preservatives, just organic cream. We purposely chose eggs, an excellent source of protein. Another one of our goals is for our students to become responsible for what they eat by learning about ingredients vs whole foods.
The link provided shows what the children experienced, where they experiece a dying art in our country-cooking for themselves. We would like to point out the comfort level the children display when handling the spatula (sometimes two spatulas) in front of a hot griddle. At 3:20 you can take notice of the pride the children express and take notice to the mess the children are allowed to make.

Math and Counting

Their are many different ways of working on counting and math for children. Our mini light table and tiles have began its own exploration all about that! Because the children are so into learning their numbers, they are now counting everything around the classroom on their own. 😀

The tiles in the classroom have played a major role as math. The children have used them in many different ways. While some are creating a shape, others are categorizing them by colors and identifying the colors. Lastly they begin to count all the tiles for each activity they do.

As the children are creating shapes out of these tiles, they have been counting how many tiles they have used. They have been focusing closely on learning their “teens”. The children are encouraged to use the number chart to help them count and identify what 2 numbers make a double digit.

The  children are working on how to count, identify and write the number.

With the type of learning we encourage here at Little Wonders, we find it very imporant for parents and teachers to understand the difference between conceptual learning and skill development. Many children may be able to identify 5, but do they understand what 5 is? This is why we constantly count things,especially materials that are familiar to us because it maintains the child’s attention and has more meaning to them.

One technique we are using to accomplish our goal of learning our one to one corrospondence is:

1.) Scanning, where we have the child move their hand over and touch each object as they count out loud.

Here are some samples of the children’s work where they show how they count and show their discoveries by being able to draw it.

As all this counting was going on the children compared the tiles to stars and this is where we have began an exploration about stars. Below are some drawings of what starts look like in the sky. Check back to see all that has happened with this new exploration.

Painting with Sponges

In our exploration of Absorption, the children were presented with a new provocation that included doing sponge painting. The teachers set up the table with white tissue paper stretched all the way across it and then layed out some small sponges and paint trays filled with water colors. The goal was to invite the children over to discover the cause and effect of them saturating the sponges with the water colors and observing how much was released onto the paper through the sponges’ absorption of it.

The children immediately came to investigate this provocation and took quickly to grabbing the sponges and dipping them into the assortment of water colors.

They then began to dab the sponge onto the paper and push down to see the colors rush out.

The wetness really got them excited which led them to splatting the sponge down on the paper so that they could see the water jump and soon the tissue paper was covered in beautiful colors.

This provocation provided them with defining their fine motor skills and learning cause and effect through the absorption of the water colors into the sponges.