Friday, October 5, 2012

WHAT ELSE? Engaging Critical Thinking Skills. An INTERACTIVE BLOG!


"PLAY IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF RESEARCH."  Albert Einstein said that!  Really, he did. 

"FUN IS NOT FLUFF."  I said that... and I'm proud to say it every time I have the opportunity to work with teachers and parents across our country.  The words "What Else?" which come from my dear colleague, friend, and mentor, Mimi Chenfeld, speak to playing, discovering, wondering and doing so as we look for more depth in learning.

It's so wonderful to have you back and I'm so happy to be able to share with you some fantastic images which I hope will give you ideas on how to re-direct children's abundant energy in ways which elevates their critical thinking skills and so, so,  SO many other ways of learning.

There is something called the:

NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS.  They are so cool. They talk about things like big concepts that we want all young learners to start recognizing.  One of them is one we all know in the PreK and K world... Patterns!!!  Another I'd like you to think about with our first image is:


Take a moment and really look at this next image.  Soak it in and then comment as to what kinds of things children would learn by placing objects inside the tubes.  I'm not going to give the answer away in the blog, but rather in my reply to your comments.  If you like, you can also email me directly at



I'm such a foodie.  I love to cook and I am the chef in my home.  I've even found ways to be much healthier and in doing so, I've lost 53 lbs over the past 4 years.  Below is an image related to food.  What can we learn from asking children about what their favorite food is?  Take a glance at this next image and read the comments from children when asked that question.  Feel free to comment and I'll be happy to reply.


We all know a child's name is a powerful gateway to learning in multiple areas.  We usually think about it related to literacy and that's great!  What about math?  What about patterns?  Enjoy this next image and if you'd like to engage me with a comment, I'll be pleased to read your comment and reply back to you. 


Children are so connected to life.  They are a great reminder to us adults that there is so much wonder and richness all around us.... all the time!  So, back to the concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards...this time think about "Stability and Change."  What is that?  Is it one or the other?  Do they co-exist?  Can we guide young children in playful ways so that they begin to understand this kind of a concept?  I used to think the answer was no, but over the last two years I've been asked to design play-based approaches that combine Arts Integration for PreK and K which connect to things like STEM, the Common Core, and these Next Generation Science Standards.... and yes, in playful, developmentally appropriate ways.  At first, about 20% of my brain said....ughhhhh, but the other 80% which is still like a child, said, "That could be fun!"  Guess what I noticed?  I was making decisions on what I thought would be good for children based on my own prejudging.  I'm no scientist, but I do know how to search for things on google.... I challenged myself and oh what fun!

Look at this next image and ask yourself:

  • What is this child creating?
  • How did they create it?
  • What are they learning?
  • Is it related to something this child has seen?
  • What is stable about it?
  • What could change about it?


In my part of the country, you see lots of nature.  We can use things from nature to create different kinds of Art.  We can use these objects found in nature to classify, identify and compare!  Look at the image below.  

  • What do you see?
  • Can you make any comparisons?
  • What could you and your children make from these things?


When you think of a garden, what do you think of?  Some say food, some say plants, some say nature, other say the sun, others trees, some think of cycles and many other wonderful observations are in fact possible.  Have you ever taken your children through a project of sorts based on an outdoor space?

Related to this next image:

  • What visual cues are obvious?
  • What visual cues are not so obvious?
  • What auditory cues might be obvious?
  • What auditory cues might not be so obvious?
  • What kinds of kinesthetic cues are obvious?
  • What kinds of kinesthetic cues might not be so obvious?


This final image is so simple, but it's so powerful.  GIANT LETTERS hanging from the ceiling.  Think about the process that went into making these letters.

  • What would children learn by co-creating these shapes?
  • When would children see these letters?
  • What might move these letters?
  • How could you use this concept in other areas of learning?

I hope you're enjoyed today's journey.  It has been a pleasure being your guide.  If you like what you saw today and what you experienced, check out my newest book, "Living Like a Child" and check out my Foundation's newest partners, Arts Integration Solution!  Check out their "Ai Minutes!"

Enrique C. Feldman, Founder and Director of Education
Fostering Arts-Mind Education Foundation
Film Composer and Producer

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