Curiosity Breeds More Questions

One of our morning classes was canceled today, leaving us with an opportunity to head outside and enjoy the lovely fall weather. We took a short hike over to The Bear Track Trail, located on the back side of our playground. This was our first excursion to this section of our school grounds.

While exploring, odd spherical shapes fell from above, clunking along the ground. There was some discussion about whether these were coconuts or walnuts. Either way, everyone wanted to know what might be inside. Many experiments were attempted. They were thrown, stomped on, bounced, and even squeezed. One sure-fire way was eventually found.

So now that we had them open, what were we to think of the squiggly mess we found inside? More and more curious we became. Squeamish my students are not. They quickly began picking the “worms” off of the seeds to examine them. The children spent the better part of twenty minutes inspecting these new finds. Many theories came forward.

Concrete and Abstract Thinking

Early each year I set out the dragon tears (flat glass rocks) and some simple line drawings. They are wonderful for fine-motor practice, but more importantly they are lovely, special things to play with. I added them to the art studio last week after observing many of the children placing a variety of toys in rows and lines.

On purpose, I didn’t explain how they might be used. I wanted to see the ideas that the children bring with them.

This year, a few children decided to use them to line the simple drawings. One child used the lines as boundaries and created their own design within the marks. As I walked around the room observing others, some of children took their exploration further.

Moving from concrete materials to abstract representations of those materials is a perfect example of the developmental growth we see in Pre-k. For younger children, it wouldn’t occur to them to re-make the activity on paper. Their learning focus is on the tangible, the feel of the rocks, the swoops and straight lines, the act of moving the stones. While the older children also found this enjoyable, they were driven to represent their experience in another medium.

We will see this in all areas of development throughout the year. Children will move from activities that involve direct manipulation to those that can represent their experiences. We hope to capture as much of this growth as we can to share with you.

A New Year of Wonder

We are almost two weeks into our latest adventure at WT North Pre-K. This class of small scientists has been flowing right into the new routines. We’ve been slowly introducing materials and tools, allowing the children to become comfortable with the use and care of each before adding something new. As they play in this novel setting, we’ve had many opportunities to observe and wonder along with them.

A wandering spider

Open exploration of loose parts

Chalk on the outside

Ramps and cars

Water table science

Who made these? (part 2)

On the path of the great vehicle mystery, we encountered even more tracks. Some, we identified quickly as deer.

Others we weren’t quite sure of.

We are going to investigate these prints further in the following weeks.

One child remarked, “Wow! This animal must have a lot of legs to have so many different foot prints!”

Who made these?

We found some very strange tracks in the field this week. We wondered if they came from a tractor. We decided to follow them, looking for more clues.

Oddly enough, they split off into two different directions . The young detectives felt the path on the left held the most promise.

At the top of the hill we found a faculty parking lot. At first the children suspected a small compact. However they realized it was much too clean looking. Then someone noticed the wheel wells on this truck. A clue! Could this be the culprit?

It looks like the tires are a match! We found our answer. Now we just have to figure out why it was driving around in the grass.

In a later post we’ll show you some of the other tracks we found while following these man made ones.

A Visitor

The children were so excited this morning! Last week, we hung a birdseed wreath outside our window.  The children were a little disappointed that the birds didn’t arrive that very moment.  However, this morning was completely different.  From our window, we observed at least 15 birds rummaging around on the playground and this little friend repeatedly visited our bird feeder.

Our new friend, the tufted titmouse.

These sightings inspired many questions and a renewed interest in using the binoculars when we moved outside to explore.  I can’t wait to see what other types of birds we might see in the upcoming months.

The Wonder Jewelry Shop

Welcome to The Wonder Jewelry Shop.  A couple of days before our Thanksgiving Break a few of the children started making paper purses in the art studio.  What began as one or two a day soon became a mass production.  When they realized they had such a large number of purses, they decided that the best thing to do was to open a store.  The shelves in the science lab were cleared off, and stocking merchandise began.  A few children suggested other accessories that might be sold in the shop, though purses continued to be the main attraction.

When we returned to school six days later, merchandise production went back into full swing.  As soon as the store was named, the very fancy sign seen above was designed and posted by the “door.” Two cash registers, an old keyboard, two old phones, and a mouse were added so the store employees could “work.”

One of the children informed us that purses with short or no handles are called bags.  These were placed directly on the shelf for display.  The longer handled purses are displayed on the walls of the shop.  I wondered aloud how a customer might know how much to pay for a purse.  So far the consensus is that whoever is selling the purse will just tell you how much it costs.

I was informed today that the Wonder Jewelry Store will have a Grand Opening at 2:00 on Thursday.  I’m not yet sure what this entails as the spokesperson did not give me any details.  Although, in the last three minutes of class, I did hear a rumor that lipstick might be on sale soon!

Want to know who is allowed to shop in this exclusive store?  Here is a soundbite the children made earlier today.  I just found it on Seesaw a minute ago:


And I found more!

I just found another clip on Seesaw.  This one was obviously designed as a commercial.  Note, adults did not have anything to do with the recording.  The children use our class iPad to document their learning and share it with their parents.  Near the end, you can hear an adult nearby suggesting that jewelry and purses are not actually gender bound.  Our voice-over artist isn’t so sure.  Sounds like a great place to start a discussion.