A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Posts tagged ‘investigating phenomena’

Storm in a Saucer

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.








The Great Drink Bottle Investigation – a teachable moment with magnets

In our classroom we embrace and value the opportunities that teachable moments present to us. These moments provide rich and valid opportunities for learning and require a flexible learning environment. Here is an example of one such opportunity.

We had been investigating magnets and sorting objects according to their magnetic properties.


After lunch one day, as the children were putting their lunch boxes and drink bottles away, one of the children wondered if their metal drink bottle would be attracted to a magnet. Another child with a metal drink bottle also wondered the same thing.






The first child tried his drink bottle and discoved the magnet would stick to it. He put it in the basket of other magnetic objects.









The second child tested his metallic drink bottle and discovered the magnet would not stick to it. Hmmmmmmm this was interesting,  and so began ………. The Great Drink Bottle Investigation, with all the children deciding to test their drink bottles and make predictions about their magnetic properties.







All the children got out their drink bottles and choosing the small magnets from our collection, individually tested their drink bottles.

They made predictions and hypothesis and tested out their thoughts.

The drink bottles were sorted into groups according to their magnetic properties.


Lots of counting and mathematical language, such as more and less, was used during the investigation.







We discovered that the magnets were attracted to 4 of the drink bottles and not to 18 of them. The interesting  thing we discovered was that some of the 18 bottles were made of metal. This posed a new question – Why do some metals attract magnets and other don’t?

We did some further research and discovered………………

This slide is from the web site Communication4all.

This led us into finding and sorting lots of metal objects to see if they were made from iron.

Learning Statements –


Investigating Natural Phenomena

Early Maths Understandings

Oral Language

Investigating Technology