A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Investigating Phenomena’ Category

Our Tinkering Table

Throughout the year I have been fascinated to observe the intensity of thought that some of my preppies have put into their block constructions. One child in particular, carefully selects and considers the placement of each and every block he uses. His constructions and their exploration of balance, shape and complexity are astonishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late last term he brought in some metal nuts, bolts and springs he had collected from the site where a bus had been repaired after breaking down. He asked if he could look at them on the light box and experimented with putting them together in interesting shapes and patterns. It was only whilst discussing these loose parts with him, and listening to his thinking about where they might have belonged on the bus, that I realised he was interested in, not just how things were constructed but also how they could be deconstructed and so our Tinkering Table was born!

I had seen a post on the wonderful blog Irresistable Ideas for Play Based about just such a table and immediately looked for a place in the classroom to add our own version of it. For now we are using the water trough because it stops the different parts and paraphernalia from falling to the floor but with summer fast approaching I will soon need to find an alternative.  

Our sound for the week was /v/ and so it seemed appropriate that the first object we should deconstruct was a vacuum cleaner. We added a set of screw drivers and waited to see what would happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first the children explored the vacuum cleaner as a whole, opening and closing all the different compartments. They were excited to discover the cord could still be pulled out and retracted. An action they repeated over and over again. I was interested to observe that it was only after I posed the question “I wonder how that works?” that some of the children, including the child who had collected the nuts and bolts from the bus, chose to begin using the screw drivers and try to open it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they got started, the children demonstrated great persistence and concentration as they used the screw drivers and there was lots of celebrating when the first screw was finally undone. One down……… many, many more to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mathematical understandings were enhanced as the children matched the size and type of screw driver required to the screws, learning during the process, the difference between flat headed and phillips head screws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one part was opened up another problem would arise, as the children worked together to think through what needed to be undone next. They discovered that there was a system to deconstruction, just as there is a method to construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children have also discovered that deconstruction is not a quick process but when another part have been released from the screws holding it together, they are another step closer to finding out how it all works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 2 weeks of hard work the children have finally gotten through to the section of the vacuum that contains the motor and we are all really looking forward to this next stage of deconstruction.

Who would have thought that a simple everyday vacuum cleaner, a machine that can be found in almost every home would become such a long term and interesting project? Certainly not me….. but from now on I think that, just as construction with blocks and other materials is an everyday activity in our classroom, so too will be deconstruction at our very own Tinkering Table.

 

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V is for Vortex

Our sound for this week is /v/ and our Did You Know……… Interesting Fact for the week is about vortices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Monday morning we discuss our Did You Know……. fact and I usually show a video about the subject as well on the Interactive Whiteboard. This weeks video was from SincScience#08 and is called The Beauty of the Vortex. In the video the children are shown how a vortex is created using a spinning motion. The children used their prior knowledge to relate this back to how water goes down a plug hole and when they heard the water gurgling began to use the Jolly Phonics action for the sound /g/, which is also a spinning action. They made comments such as “it’s like a tornedo” and “I can see a whirlpool”. They were fascinated by the images taken by a camera as it moved up and down inside the vortex and we discussed why there was no water on the camera lens even though it was in water.

I love the way science engages children in thinking, problem solving and oral language  and can be related back to their everyday lives. Here is the link to  the YouTube video –  http://youtu.be/GkbMJSeI25Q.

The video clearly shows how a votex is created by a spinning motion and we explored this further using our ribbons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children experimented with spinning and twirling the ribbons quickly and slowly and how the speed effects the spiral shape and effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rainbow pattern of the ribbons created  similar images to the ones seen in the vortex video.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During Play Time  several bottles of coloured water, joined at the neck with a connector, were available for the children to shake and spin to create a vortex inside a bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This activitiy was also a great opportunity to use their upper body and hand muscles as the children shook the bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

They were very interested in the waterfall effect created in the lower bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children also tried looking down the inner part of the vortex just like in the video and even though this was unsuccessful, the conversations about why, were thought provoking and required lots of thinking and problem solving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some children recorded their observations of the vortex.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their interest in spirals and concentric circles was further explored and exhanced as they created and used them in other areas of the classroom including the overhead projector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concentric circles……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loose parts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and drawing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This drawing was also provoked through our exploration of the abstract work of Kandinsky, whose art was displayed and observed in the classroom and on the IWB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll write about this in another post.

From phonics to……. science to…….. loose parts to……. art……… it’s all part of the learning in a Prep classroom.

Warm and Cool Colours

One of our favourite books is One by Kathryn Otoshi and it explores the connection between colours and feelings. This provoked a conversation about colours being warm and cool and we decided to explore this further.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First we looked at cool colours because blue was the first colour we met in the book, One. We looked at and discussed art images using blues and  greens. We talked about the difference in shades and how they effected the feeling of the images. We also talked about the lines that could represent ice breaking and what these might look like.

One of the pictures we observed carefully was this one by Picasso.

 

 

 

 

 

We explored his inclusion of yellow and red/brown in the painting and how it effected the feel of the painting and compared it with this very different picture that exclusively used blues and purples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it came time to create our own cool colour drawing, we used our observations for ideas. The children decided that “sharp”, “pointy” and “zigzag” lines would be best and drew 3 of each from the top to the bottom of the page. Next they turned their page around by 1/4 and drew another 3 lines from 1 side to another. The children then filled in the shapes they had created on the page using various shades of blue and green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once all the shapes were filled with colour, a white oil pastel was used to outline them with some children drawing zigzag lines in white over the top as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We used the same process when exploring warm colours. Here is one of the images we observed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also discussed what a fire looks like and the kind of lines that are created by flames and heat. The children decided that they would like to represent warm colours using “wavy” lines and this is the kind of lines they drew across their page from 1 side to the other. Just like with the cool colour drawing except “wavy not spikey”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again the children chose the colours, selecting shades of red, yellow, orange and brown “just like in a fire”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When complete some children chose to outline their warm shapes in a warm colour and highlight them using wavy lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to show you but when placed together the cool and warm effects were quite spectacular, with every image different yet belonging, a bit like the individual colours in the book. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our warm and cool colour investigation was an interesting part of a larger one on colour and light. Whilst these activities seem prescriptive, their purpose was about the process of representing their observations and thinking. The knowledge and understandings they gained through these particular activities have been demonstrated over and over again as the children comment on the colours used in other media including book illustrations and videos. They have also transferred these understandings into their own art, using them imgainatively and creatively.

The Gentle Sound of Colour

Whilst investigating colour and light I placed some glass bottles filled with coloured water near one of our large bright windows. These bottles caught the children’s eye and invited them to explore the way the light shines through them and the effect of different coloured bottles being put together to reveal a new colour through the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst playing with the bottles the children enjoyed the sound they made when knocked together. The next day I placed some glass jars with coloured water near another window along with a small silver fork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children seemed to be drawn to these as well and enjoyed making their own music, exploring and experimenting with the different sounds and ways to tap the jars with the fork.

In another area of the room they were provided with more glass jars and jugs of coloured water which they poured and filled and emptied to varying levels observing the differences in sounds and tones. They explored this simple music making experience for a long time and when they moved on and began to play and explore new ideas and interests I chose to leave the original bottles and jars in the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even now, after several weeks have passed and the classroom is busy and loud, I often hear the gentle tinkling sounds of the coloured water and look over to see a child enjoying the process of making music.

Wordless Wednesday 14th September

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

My Many Coloured Days

Over the last 6 weeks we have been interested in colour and light. Throughout our investigation and exploration we have read lots of books about colour but there have been 3 books that have really impacted on our learning and these are One and Zero by Kathryn Otoshi and My Many Colored Days by Dr Seuss. All 3 books explore the power of colour and we have had many conversations together about how our feelings can be represented using colour. We have compared the way the books have used the same colour to represent different feelings and discussed which feeling we individually thought the colour represented.

Dr Suess’ book My Many Colored Days was the last of the 3 books we read. We found the contrast in illustrations between this book and the other 2 books interesting. This contrast was a provocation for further exploration of colour and light and we decided to paint some of the windows of the classroom in observe the effect of the light shining in through the colours.

The children began to slowly cover the windows with paint………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

enjoying the effect of the light as it shone through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They discovered that the amount of paint they applied affected the lights ability to shine through…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The thicker the paint the stronger the colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children explored the effect of different brush strokes as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slowly throughout these explorations and experimentations the windows were covered in paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we added another layer of texture using our patterned rollers……….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and white paint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This experience was really good gross motor practice as well as we stretched up high and across especially when using the roller. We also used our dotted stamps to add to the effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rolled and printed all over the paint enjoying the added dimension and textures and then the painting of the windows was finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we sponge painted body shaped stencils  onto paper using colours that showed our feelings. When these were dry we cut them out and added them to our coloured windows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Many Coloured Day windows were finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We love our windows and the way the light shines through them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We especially love the way our body shapes look like shadows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We loved this entire process and are now going to paint our other windows and the door at the front of the classroom.