While the teacher was reading Willow and the Snow Dance, the story about how one child made a difference in her neighborhood by being friendly and offering opportunities for the community to do thing together, the students became excited about one the community projects. Willow, the main character, created yard art. One of the pieces that the students noticed were the stepping stones. Not only were they beautiful, but the the students noticed that they were made from recycled materials.
“I want to do that,” Tirza said. “Can we do that?” she continued to ask.
“There must be a plan before you being,” the teacher reminded them.
We began a search to find out how to make stepping stones. We used our search engines on our class computers and found the following……..
Once the children understood the steps to make them, they got straight to work.
First, was the plan. What design would we put in the stones, and where would we put them once they were done?
After much discussion, it was decided that the stepping stones could be included in the garden, but should have a science focus.
The students began to consider all sorts of cycles: butterfly, frog life cycle, and plant cycle. The students settled on the plant cycle, and Tirza drew the plan for each stepping stone.
The first stone would show seeds being planted.
The second stone would show watering of the seeds.
The third stone would be a clock to represent the time it takes for a plant to grow.
And the fourth and final stone would show a flower.
They worked together to make sure the drawings were just as they wanted. Once those scketches were finalized, it was time to make the templates.
They first tried to trace the circumference of the mold, but realized that their circle did not match the inside of the mold. After realizing that the size was wrong, the teacher allowed for the children to come up with a solution. They then decided to cut it smaller by pushing the circle into to the mold to make sure the size of the paper was exactly the same size as the mold.
Once they decided their circle was the correct size, they began to cut it out.
They then cut out a piece of contact paper that is the same size as the circle template they just created.
The students placed the contact paper on top of the drawing of what they wanted their stepping stone to look like with the sticky side facing up.
They soon began to place pieces of recycled glass and donated tile on the contact paper. They selected tile that would best represent their drawing.
They began with a picture of a seed buried in dirt with the sun shining above. They searched for yellow and orange tiles to use for the sun.
They soon noticed that they were beginning to run out of yellow tile. The girls quickly began to brainstorm possible solution. “What if we color them like this,” Tirza suggested. She grabbed a marker and started to color the tiles. As they began to handle the colored pieces, they noticed that the marker was rubbing off. “We need to ask our parents,” one of the girls suggested.
Ms. Robin help them and sent out an email for the parents to see if they had any yellow dishes that they could donate to this project. We were in luck, and the children were given two yellow casserole dishes.
We needed smaller pieces to place in the stepping stone; so armed with safety goggles, a towel, and a hammer, the girls began to create pieces for their stones.
The take all of their pieces and create the mosaic scene of a seed receiving sunlight.
They begin to work on the next stone following a similar process.
Once the first two molds were ready for cement, Coach Chip helped the students mix the cement. The girls began with a cement powder and the continued to add water to the mixture until it was the right consistency.
The pass the bucket around as they realized that the more water they added the looser it became; not to mention, the heavier it became.
The bucket was so heavy, that Coach Chip had to pour the cement over their decorative stones. The girls applied Vaseline along the edges of the mold to ensure that the cement would not stick to the mold.
As Coach Chip poured, the girls smoothed the cement with a little help from their teacher.
After the wet stones were smoothed over, we placed the stones outside to dry.
The class worked on this project until the four steppings stones were complete. They were able to work together, focus on the life cycle of a plant, measure, problem solve, and become familiar with many new materials. They spent one afternoon outside with Coach Chip digging and placing the stepping stones in one of our playground gardens. The stepping stones have made a beautiful addition to our outdoor classroom.
This activity focused on the following learning goals:
(A) identify and demonstrate safe practices as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations, including wearing safety goggles, washing hands, and using materials appropriately;
(B) discuss the importance of safe practices to keep self and others safe and healthy; and
(C) demonstrate how to use, conserve, and dispose of natural resources and materials such as conserving water and reusing or recycling paper, plastic, and metal.
(B) identify parts of plants such as roots, stem, and leaves and parts of animals such as head, eyes, and limbs;
(C) identify ways that young plants resemble the parent plant; and
(D) observe changes that are part of a simple life cycle of a plant: seed, seedling, plant, flower, and fruit.