An ant colony with queen ant and eggs constructed from blocks and playdough by four and five year olds.
Young children learn best through active, hands on, social experiences.
And they don’t need photocopied worksheets to share what they are learning.
Providing open ended materials and resources allows each child to share the story of their own learning – they can express their knowledge and share their ideas, providing an observant educator with insight into what the child knows, how they learn and the role each child takes as a learner within the group.
I have been excited to see many examples of learning in action in Immy’s kindergarten class. The children have been learning about insects and other minibeasts within the local environment. And they have been supported to tell the story of their learning with a range of creative materials.
When we arrived to collect the children recently we were invited into the classroom to see what they had been working on that day. It was a huge ant colony constructed from big wooden blocks with a queen ant and eggs made from playdough. The project had started spontaneously with Immy and another child deciding to build the ant colony with the blocks. As the colony grew and grew many of the other children joined in. I was interested to hear that Immy assumed the role of ‘director,’ telling the other children where their blocks should be put. I am not sure of the specifics but at some stage it was decided to add the queen ant and eggs which the children and their teacher worked together to make from playdough. As well as reinforcing the facts they have learnt about ants, this experience provided the children with the opportunity to develop important learning to learn, thinking and social skills.
A spider in its web – the children were provided with a selection of creative materials to create their spider from. Each spider was unique and communicated what the children had learnt about spiders so far. I learnt that spiders can have 0,2,4,6 or 8 eyes – I always thought that all spiders had eight eyes!
To effectively present learning opportunities in this way the educator’s role becomes multifaceted and depending upon the situation might include acting as;
- Observer: By watching and listening the adult is in a better situation to understand what each child is thinking, what they know about the situation, what questions they have, their preferred style of learning and what role they take as a learner within a group.
- Facilitator: The educator provides time and space for the play and learning to happen without interruption, uses questioning to help the children solve problems they come across within their playful enterprise, interacts with the intention of enhancing the learning and guides the children to learn from each other.
- Prop Manager: The educator helps the children to source additional resources or materials as required.
- Recorder: The educator records the learning so that it can be shared with the child, family and community. The educator’s records become part of the story of learning for the individual and for the group.
The children used drawing materials to revisit their visit to the museum.
“Children enjoy creating when they have new and exciting ideas to express. It is the combination of life experiences and the encouragement to express these ideas through a creative medium that involves children purposefully in artistic endeavours.” ~Art Not Craft, The Process of Learning Creatively eBook
What is your child’s favourite way to share their learning story?
The images in this post are shared with the permission of Immy’s teacher.