Tag Archives: children
In recent weeks, the elementary students embarked on a study of plant life. The study began when the students started collecting food families on their weekly grocery store visits. They gathered all the citrus fruits they could find from Whole Foods, and apples from 99 Ranch Market, along with tubers on one trip and root vegetables on another.
In studying each of these food families, the students began postulating criteria for what makes a fruit or vegetable belong to a certain class. They established that citrus have segments, while apples do not, and that tubers and root vegetables grow underneath the ground, unlike fruits which grow on trees from flowers. The exploration led them back into a topic they addressed toward the end of last semester, which is identifying how trees grow.
Originally, some of the younger students thought new trees come from fallen leaves, but older students corrected them and clarified that new trees actually come from fallen seeds. This semester, we introduced the question more broadly, as, “How do plants grow?”
We focused the exploration first on the anatomy of plants, and then incorporated a review of the processes of pollination and germination. We dissected flowers to see first-hand the structures that enable propagation.
In class, we’ve discussed the anatomy of plants, as well as the processes of pollination and germination. Dissection of plants, more specifically flowers, allowed the students to see close-up what the structures are that enable the creation of new plants. It was an incredibly rich experience! Layer by layer, the students tore away petals, pistils, leaves, and stems until the flower’s primary organs were laid out on the table and labeled (the students referred to images of flower cross sections for spelling). The students commentary throughout dissection was rich. They identified not only leaves, stems, and petals but sepals that hold the flower together, as well as the pistil and stamen, and how those organs vary among species of flowers.
As we began the dissection, one student wanted to know why his rose had thorns on it. His group members suggested we cut open the stem to find an answer. Inside of a stem carefully sliced in half with an X-acto knife, the students found (to their surprise) water! One student mentioned that it must be the water that travels from the soil, through the roots and sustains the flower. With no input from the teacher other than moderating the discussion, the students together reasoned that thorns functioned as armor on the stem to protect it’s precious cargo.
Some flowers the students brought had buds on them. The students asked that they be sliced open as well and saw the component parts within still in formation. They peeled away their flowers’ petals and carefully tore away each part, from the tiny anthers and filaments to the sepal. They labeled each part, referring to a cross-section that had been printed out for reference.
One student brought in planted tulips, and he decided to unearth the flowers to observe the root system. The students were astounded by the way the roots, unlike the neat, fork-like vessels they included in their illustrations, were actually more like a knot of hairs that connected the various flowers together into joined organism. In pulling the tulips from their soil, the student who brought them found a bulb. The proverbial light bulb was practically visible above another students’ head as he exclaimed, “OH. That’s where the root vegetable would grow!” (The exact placement of a root vegetable on it’s parent plant had perplexed him during the root vegetable study a week prior). The students latched onto the analogy, comparing the bulb’s thin white skin to an onion.
In addition to our flower dissection, our botany study has expanded through various avenues. The students visited the Garden Center in Sugar Land to purchase plants to include in our school garden. They were asked to find flowers and fruits/vegetables that are well-adapted to Houston’s climate, attract bees, meant to be planted in the Spring. They returned with a wide array of flowers, including celosias and ageratums, as well as strawberries, corn and snap peas.
We used our classroom compost to plant, which is maintained by worms the children feed scraps to. Our garden is blooming! The children water the plants every day and science lessons are regularly held in the garden.
In the Reggio Emilia philosophy, the environment as a “third teacher” is an important component to the approach. Since we have a strong belief that children learn through interaction with others, including parents, staff, and peers, our goal is to make the environment a friendly and collaborative space and to have an atmosphere of playfulness and joy.
We were inspired to designate a specific “birthday party” area by two pieces of artwork that the children painted. With the help of a few parents, the one-time play dough area was transformed into “the birthday area.” In order to make this a “birthday area,” we included different cupcake liners, colored play-dough, and party supplies!
A core value in the Reggio Emilia approach is the importance of parents involvement. Parents are a vital component to the Reggio philosophy and are viewed as partners, collaborators, and advocates for their children. While it’s not uncommon to see parents here at Little Wonders, we always encourage and support parent involvement during the exploring process because the Reggio philosophy does not end when the child leaves our classroom.
In the photos below, one of the parents in the PreSchool class cam to help the children sprout sees. The seeds have been “trying to grow” according to the chlidren for some time now, but having a parent come and spend time with the children and share her expertise was such a wonderful experience for the school. Continue reading
The children enjoy painting in general, and they seem to be especially creative when we move the activity outdoors. It seems to give them a unique energy from what they usually experience when painting in the classroom. They explored painting using brushes and their hands, which provided for a wonderful sensory experience.
When we went outside, the children automatically went to the paintbrushes, felt the bristles in their hands, examined the bowls filled with the red paint, and surveyed the entire set-up. They explored the relationship between the brush and paint, and the paint and surface. Children began painting on the paper we laid down, themselves, and each other! Occasionally a child would look up at one of us as if to say, “Is this okay?” as they used their hands to paint instead of the brushes.
The children have been exploring in the kitchen area and carrying the materials to different areas of the room. When children play in the kitchen, it allows them to learn to count, indulge in their sense of smell, touch and taste, learn about proportions and are introduced to a variety of shades within one color. Pretend play has a major benefit to social, emotional, and mental development in children and leads to increased communication skills. Children are allowed to be whoever they want to be in pretend play.