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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Are They Even Learning?

A non-educator friend of mine recently asked me what children at this age are even learning.  She was confused by the way in which I organize my classroom around the little people's ideas and interests.  She thought that if I allowed the little people to take the lead then they wouldn't learn anything and would "just want to play all day".  After I explained to her that play equals learning and that there can be no learning without joy, I attempted to share with her all that the little people were in fact learning.

Here are a few very recent examples of using the little people's questions and ideas to create learning opportunities.  What do you think?  Are they learning?

At the start of November, a little person asked me when it was going to snow.  Rather than say "I don't know" or worse, ignore the question, I saw this as the perfect learning opportunity.  My response to her was that perhaps we should keep a count of the days that we are waiting for it to snow.  Each day she came to school and added a link to the chain and counted the links.  She went from not being able to count past 10 to counting past 20 with only a few mistakes in the teens.

On the same day that it started to snow and we moved the other child's snow count, another little person told me that it was Christmas.  I responded that yes, I changed the calendar to a new picture, but that it wasn't yet Christmas, but perhaps we could countdown to the holiday.  After I counted out 24 links, she helped me make a pattern and hang it on the wall.  As she arrives each morning, I told her that she may remove a link and watch the chain grow smaller.

While reading a story about a boy who puts a snowball in his pocket only to find that it had disappeared once in the house, a few of the little people told me it melted.  When I asked them what they meant by that they said that the snow turned into water.  One little person said, "yeah, then it's gonna freeze some more into water".  I saw that there was some confusion as to what melting and freezing was so we decided to fill up a bucket with water and place it outside.  All throughout outside play we checked and it was still water!  After nap the bucket was brought inside and instead of water there was a block of ice.  We now know what frozen means and as we watch the bucket in the classroom turn back into water, we will understand what melting means.

So?  Following the little people's ideas and interests...a pretty joyful way to learn no?

1 comment:

  1. Amen to that Ms. Megan! I especially love the chains for counting the days; it's such a concrete way for them to measure such an abstract concept like time!