"PLAY IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF RESEARCH"
That is one of my favorite quotes from Albert Einstein.
Anything can be introduced to young children as
long as it is through the lens of play.
Founder/Director of Education
As an educator I have the great pleasure of working with partnering schools which have a sincere interest in finding elevated ways to guide youth, so that learning is something they crave. At the Child-Parent Centers, Inc. Head Start program in Tucson, Arizona, we have been on this journey with them since 2003 and each year the level of learning for children, teachers, and parents increases.
One of the centers I interact with is the Sunnyside Center. At this center, they choose areas of interest that the children have and connect them in meaningful ways to learning. Not just academic learning, but the Art of Learning... critical thinking combined with creative thinking. The most recent area of interest led to a study in Science...physical science, biological science, and earth science!
Through experiences the children had over a period of months, along with authentic conversations with teachers and parents, children came up with their own definition of physical science seen above. Below is one of several adult definitions.
When the learner, at any age, is allowed to discover the definition for themselves, the amount of critical thinking and creative thinking is very high. Even if the definition they come up with isn't exactly accurate, the journey they take in discovering at least part of the answer make the comprehension of the actual definition much more meaningful. Let's take a look at that journey!
All children play with some form of block or puzzle. What's important to notice here is that a teacher or parent took the time to ask a question, wait for the response, and then document what the child said. For any learner, when you see yourself in an image and your words, this is highly affirming, which leads to more trust, then risk and of course leads to more growth.
Working in groups and taking the time to observe the process of things in nature may seem simple, but this usually leads to a love of observing which is connected to keeping curiosity alive in the learner... what would your life look like if you kept a high level of curiosity?
If you were the guide in the above setting, what question might you ask of the child related to what is happening, what happened or what might happen? Feel free to post your questions in the comments section below.
Guiding children in creating liquids with different qualities can be a visually stimulating experience and one that has no limits. What could you create with basic elements? With the ability to search online for an unlimited amount of recipes, take a moment to think about what you could help your children create. Could they eventually come up with their own recipes?
Science can be related to something children already enjoy doing. It's our job to facilitate that with guided questions, paying attention to the child's response, whether it be a gesture or words, as it was in the case above with Robert.
The simple pleasure in life are so rewards and so are the simple pleasures in learning. They may be simple, yet they can be profound. Once Gabbi knows that she can use her hands to pinch clay to hold certain shapes, what else may Gabbi realize she can do with her hands, her fingers, clay, a pencil, and more?
Children also explored biological science and created their own definitions!
As part of biological science children can begin to identify stages or steps. This is a form of pattern and sequence, which exist in any area of learning, from math to music and in this case, science.
Understanding a child's interest is key because any interest can be used to teach any subject matter, assuming the teacher is clever enough to improvise and grow themselves. In Aniza's case, she enjoys food, cooking, and making things for her friends. What kinds of questions could you ask this preschool child? Colors, amounts, shapes, differences, contrasting elements (big/small, etc.)... the possibilities are endless.
Speaking of food, how about making some butter!
Categorization and decision making...oh yeah!
Children were also engaged in experiences related to
In the beginning stages of science, there is typically an overlap of definition and perhaps even confusion related to what kinds of things are certain types of science. In letting the children first experience and later label, the children discover WHY something is earth science and WHY something is biological science or some other type of science. This is very different than simply being told or memorizing different categories. 1) It's much more engaging, 2) the learner creates their own framework, 3) the learner fuels their curiosity and 4) they do actually learn the definition, but in a more meaningful context.
Comparing and contrasting soil and sand...think, think, think.... Pensive!
The Art of observation... in this case how a fish swims.
Can the study of science be integrated with Art? Can it be connect to the understanding of shapes, perspective and color? Yes, yes, and yes. Can it be connected to academic standards? Sure, but of course that's a natural byproduct of any truly engaged learner.
Plain old rocks, right? Notice the care with which the learner is handling and observing. What questions could you
ask as this child's guide?
Understanding weather patterns and the relationship between the sun being out, still being cold, and it being winter. What other combinations predict weather and/or seasons?
This next example could be considered a form of biological science if your focus is on the bag or the air, but it could be earth science if the focus is on the human being producing the air. Either way the idea of experimenting to see if air can move is a big idea that has led to alternate forms of energy. Encouraging children to recreate that information on their own allows them to take roads travelled by some very well known scientists and perhaps beyond.... oh the places you'll go!
Recently in Tucson, Arizona, it actually snowed. This was a very special day for us who live in the southwest and provided a fantastic opportunity for children to explore where snow comes from, why it's not rain, how quickly or slowly it falls and why.
If you're new to my blog on the 5th of every month, you might be wondering why I ask so many questions of children and of you. I could tell you, but I'd be robbing you from the experience if I did, so instead I'll answer this question in the following manner.