One morning Coach Chip brought two visitors into the classroom. They were our very own bearded dragons, Ninjago and Silly Putty! Coach Chip explained that it was time to feed the lizards and asked all the children if they were ready to see their special food! Coach chip pulled out a container and when he opened it, the children were surprised to find worms inside!
The children noticed how the worms wiggled and moved slowly in front of the lizards!
Then, all of a sudden… CHOP! The lizards ate the worms!
The children giggled and screamed with excitement. They were amazed at how fast the lizards were and how slow the worms were.
“Tail!” the children yelled. “Spikey!” another child said.
What great observational skills.
Once Coach Chip left the classroom with Ninjago and Silly Putty, the children began to draw what they had just experienced. Some of the children drew fast, with excitement and displayed the same energy that they had just seen in the lizards. Some student drew very slowly and precisely. They tried to capture the specific details that caught their attention.
What quick and energetic movements!
Mia spent time drawing each bearded dragon. She focused on each feature that she remembered. She drew a circle for the head, counted and drew two eyes, and drew one long mouth for each lizard. She even started to draw sharp patches of lines to represent the spikey skin that she had noticed.
Brett began counting a series of dots that he created on the paper. He said they were his small worms and we all joined in and counted to the number fourteen!
One of our children was so proud of the long line that she created to represent the bearded dragon’s tail. She yelled, “tail!”
I don’t even need to look at my paper to draw!
This student decided to try drawing with two hands! Strong wide circles began taking over her side of the paper! She seemed very pleased with her new discovery.
We were amazed by the concentration of this particular child. Quietly he drew long lines along the edge of the paper, making sure not deviate from the paper and move onto the table. We were very aware of the difficult challange that he set before himself and so pround of his determination.
He eventually even found something better to draw on than paper!
Look at this amazing work of art, which is full of a variety of different scribbles. Each child brings a unique movement and intention behind their work. Much like a personal signature, each scribbles is unique in thier own way!
Fast and confined.
Delicate and quite
The complex drawing from one child that is full of muliple scribbles!
In order to reinforce the knowledge of what they had just gained, we presented the class with a play dough area. We invited them to explore with the new material and make new discoveries. A small group came to visit this area and we were so excited to see them use the play dough in a completely different way to express their experience. They immediately began to roll out small pieces and call them “worms!” We talked about who’s worms were bigger or smaller and began to line up all of their pieces and count them.
Look at all the worms on this student’s board!
“I did it!” As this student showed us the worm that he created.
Rolling out worms!
“Look at what I made!”
…as he discovers his own capabilities!
One student started making a sculpture that looked a little different from his previous “worms.” It was flatter and he began pushing in small areas with his finger. “This is my lizard!” he said.
Another child observed his creation and began making one of her own. “Lizard!” she said. Learning from each other in the classroom is something that we love to see. Independent observers and thinkers will retain more information and will connect that objective with a wonderful experience.
During this project, our Elementary teacher, Mrs. Robin, stopped by the class to see what was going on. One of our students immediately stopped her and wanted to tell her about the exciting new experience that he had just had. He said to her, “This is my lizard and this is my worm (pointing to the play dough pieces).
The lizards eat worms…CHOP!” He grabbed the clay worms fast in his hands and smashed them. He was imitating the fast movement and energy that the lizards had just exhibited in front of the class!
Meanwhile, another student was sitting on the other end of the table and was experiencing an entirely different kind of exploration. He was feeling the play dough in between his hands and suddenly started to squeeze it so hard that it began to crumble through his fingertips.
“I’m making a mess!” he said. This student was exploring the play dough through sensory play and understanding the control that his hands had over this material.
It is this exact play that will eventually lead to a refined skill that will help his motor skills, sense of description, building skills, and handwriting.
Then all of a sudden…
Look what I did!
He discovered that the play dough can stick to his hand just like a sticker!
What is beautiful about this philosophy is that there is a respect for children and their individual ways of thinking, learning, and their interests. The amount of educational experiences that occur in a classroom here are endless and not limited to one subject.
In early childhood, children need no written lines to memorize, structured behavior patterns to imitate, nor is an audience needed. Children need only a safe, interesting environment and freedom to experiment with roles, conflict, and problem solving. When provided with such an environment, children become interested in and will attend to the task at hand and develop their concentration (Way, 1967). Through this project alone, subjects such as dramatic play, problem solving, math, science, writing and creativity were all incorporated in a way that no teacher alone could have produced. It is the children, which we view as capable individuals, who directed this learning. It is our responsibility to follow their lead and provide them with the proper environment and materials in order to promote these rich learning experiences.