Visiting other schools always makes me think about classroom organization, I get new ideas about how to document children’s learning, and gets me thinking about changes I want to implement in my teaching. Changes in weather often lead to changes in activities and we begin favorite spring investigations and look for new ways to explore and record the children’s work. With the warmer weather, children can get wet and not have to change clothes to remain comfortable. So I was happy to see some new ways of documenting water exploration by a four-year-old class in another school.
This school has a Question of the Morning for parents and children to consider together at drop off time, a time of transition that gets its own time slot, not just a moment but a period of time that is planned for. The questions are considered for as long as the child is interested and the responses are recorded by either, or both, child and adult.
Some of the questions relate to an investigation that the children are pursuing, such as into the properties of water. Sensory tables and tubs, buckets and mud puddles provide experiences with water. Children can find out about the properties of water using tools such as scoops, funnels, droppers, spoons, sieves, cups, sponges, tubes….the list is endless! Don’t forget towels to learn about absorption and to keep the floor from being slippery. Begin with a few and tools can be added and set aside as needed when children begin playing with pouring, flow and containment. Drying off the playground equipment is a “real life” link to this investigation.
Further documentation of children’s thinking has been linked together on lengths of string—a visual of how the ideas are linked around the central idea of “How does water influence your world?” I wish I could have heard the conversation about the meaning of the word “influence.” “How does water influence your world?” So much more active and of consequence than “Where do you see water?”
Using a small amount of water can be just as engaging as pouring from buckets. In this activity inspired by a workshop led by Karen Worth and Jeff Winokur from Wheelock College and EDC, Inc., children make drops and talk about their shape and appearance on different surfaces. Other ways for working with water include holding melting ice, and painting with liquid water!
Manipulating larger amounts of water with tools can lead to creating a system, requiring children to think about cause and effect and how the pieces can go together to meet a goal. Can you suggest some more ways to document this work?