Active Learning Processes is one of the five Learning Areas in our Early Years curriculum and over the last few weeks, we have been very involved in investigating colour. These investigations to date, have included the light box, lots of experimentation with materials and of course paint. In Small Groups this week the children’s thinking was challenged as they were invited to experiment with milk, food dye and detergent. When presented with these ingredients the children discussed what they thought they could do and predict what might happen. Naturally, after all the colour mixing they have done, the children suggested they could drip the food dyes into the milk and make new colours by mixing them together but if that was the case, why did they have green paint? Green is not a primary colour! It took some investigation to discover that the “green paint” was in fact detergent. It was thicker and had a smell! It was harder to suck up into the pippette.
The children began to drip the 3 primary colours into the milk expecting them to make new colours just like with the paint but they quickly discovered that the food colours did not mix together in the milk.
WOW! Look what is happening.
The children found it interesting to observe the speed of the reaction and the way the food dye moved and “swirled” to make the new colours.
After their initial experiment the children documented the reactions using crayons.
After this the children continued to experiment and hypothesise about why the ingredients reacted the way they did. They found the process fascinating and fun.
“It’s like a tornedo in the milk.” “Look at it moving” “It’s still going.”
The children repeated the process over and over again until the milk was lots of strange and interesting colours.
The children still haven’t quite worked out the reason why the ingredients react the way they do but they are certainly enjoying the active discovery process. I’m sure they’ll get there in the end perhaps with a little help and some strategic questioning to scaffold some higher order thinking but for now it’s the wonder in the process.
My prep children love to sing and dance and in our classroom we have a Singing Tree. The tree has little fabric bags on it and the children like to choose a bag off the tree, open it and take out what is inside. The object will either be very specific to a song or nursery rhyme, or will be something more open such as a frog or a duck, allowing the children to choose a song from their repetoire about this object.
Hickory, Dickory Dock
Most of the objects are Wade Whimsies which are small ceramic figurines which I bought on eBay. The children really like them because they are small and very tactile.
5 Little Speckled Frogs Mr Frog etc
To begin the year, I usually have familiar nursery rhymes and songs in the bags and as we learn new songs during the year we add more bags to the tree. I have found, at the start of the year, that it is very useful for practicing turn taking, waiting, and encouraging the children to participate in group times as they all want a turn to choose a bag.
The children often incorporate the tree into their dramatic play and they have used it as the provocation for a series of concerts that the children planned and performed over a week during play time.
The first Singing Tree was an artificial tree but one of the leg stands got broken and so it has now been replaced by a real potted tree with butterfly lights in it. I’ll have to see what the children think about it next week when they come back from holidays. Hopefully they’ll like it even more!
Hey Diddle Diddle
We also have bags for movement games and songs eg. a bag with a child figurine inside can be anything from Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes to a Freeze game. We now have almost 25 song bags and it is great when someone chooses a song we haven’t sung for awhile because with all the songs we know, it is easy to forget some of the old favourites.
The natural beauty of the garden and playground offers many and varied opportunities for children to think, create, imagine and develop motor skills. The large trees in our school are losing some of their leaves for winter (we don’t really have autumn here in Qld.) The children began collecting these leaves and, using sticks, tried to thread them. Unsuccessfully. Next they tried using long grass but found it difficult to make holes/cuts in the leaves to thread the grass through. One of the children said “we need the hungry caterpillar.” and so………never one to miss an opportunity to enhance fine motor skills, that afternoon I quickly glued some pom poms, eyes and a pipe cleaner onto some hole punches and our Very Hungry Caterpillar Hole Punches were born!
I was a bit concerned about how well the pom poms would stay on but the children didn’t want to “squash” the caterpillar and so, by using just the end of the hole punch, their finger strength and control was really challenged to get the caterpillar to bite into the leaves.
The next day, the children were very engaged in “feeding the hungry caterpillars” outside, punching holes in all the leaves they could find. For awhile their focus was on seeing how many bites they could put in a leaf which meant lots of finger strengthening, counting and discussion about the size and shape of the leaves. They experimented with folding some of the softer leaves to see what would happen and talked about symmetry not just in the leaves, but with their bite holes as well.
Once their curiosity was satisfied the children selected the leaves they wanted to use for threading and set to work. It took a lot of eye-hand coordination and concentration to thread the long leaves and grass through the holes and their persistence was amazing.
This experience demonstrates the importance of allowing children to be free to explore their own ideas and for we the adults, to value, assist, and support them. The simple addition of the hole punches provided the children with the tools, and making them into caterpillars’ based upon a child’s idea, was a further provocation to enhancing their personal learning, fine motor, thinking and investigating skills in a real and valid way through their experimentation with leaf threading. This is how I love to teach, and tick the reporting boxes …………by using the children’s ideas and interests through a child negotiated curriculum.
Learning Statements –
Investigating the Natural World
Fine Motor Skills
Imagining and Responding
We love any book by Eric Carle and always find them inspiring. We had set up a zoo in our classroom and after reading The Mixed Up Chameleon and watching the Youtube Video of the story we thought it would be fun to create our very own mixed up animals.
We set to work making lots of interesting paper using a variety of rollers and objects for printing.
We spent several days enjoying this process and when we were finished, we set about carefully selecting paper and print effects to use in creating our mixed up animals.
Sometimes the paper inspired the animal and it’s parts, and at other times we searched for just the right piece of paper, for that special effect in our animal creation.
But either way it was all about our thinking and the process, and that is why I haven’t posted any final animal creations but, if you look carefully in the photos you will see some animals under construction.
Happy Birthday Eric Carle and Thank You for all your stories and inspiration.