children’s discoveries and documentation

composter documentationThank you to all of the educators who came out to PDSB’s annual Kindergarten Conference (Inspirations and Contexts, Kindergarten Play and Inquiry) last week. It was wonderful to have a chance to meet and chat with many of you. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share some of the documentation my students have been involved in. I thought I would post some of their documentation as well as a few discoveries they made about the worms and the composter.

The children were provided with several pictures of different stages of the construction of the worm composter. They chose the ones they thought were important or ones they found particularly interesting. I was thrilled that so many of the boys were keen to write about their experiences. Even though we have a Communication Centre as part of our classroom, the truth is that children communicate through reading, writing, speaking and representing at ALL of the learning centres. I was very intentional with some of the vocabulary I had available for the children such as worm, bin, drill.  A meeting to choose and write about a picture quickly became an engaging and meaningful guided reading and writing lesson.

composter doc1

composter doc2

The children found what they theorized to be eggs and they quickly referred to someworm eggs books to see if their theories were correct. It was important for them to represent their findings, so they became interested in drawing the worms and the eggs. They also began to make connections to the pictures in the books.  They learned that worms have five hearts. One student discovered a diagram and counted the hearts to verify that what he learned was correct. He then became very interested in making his own diagram.


When I asked a couple of the students how they could share with others what they learned about worms, one student pointed to some documentation panels that were in our classroom and said, “We can make something like that.” And so, I handed over the iPad and they decided what pictures they needed to include in their documentation.  student documentationOnce they had taken all of their pictures, I printed them for the children.  It’s interesting that a few days after they had taken their pictures, the focus of their documentation changed.

students documenting 3

After manipulating the pictures in several different positions, they finally decided on how they wanted their panel to look. Once again, what I had anticipated they might do was completely different from what they actually did. One student decided to post a list of things she wondered about.

P-worm documentation

The Worm Composter

Do the worms like water?

Do the worms like soil?

Do the worms like porridge?

Do the worms like bugs?

S-worm documentation

Another student simply stated her observations:

The worm is wet but the worm is still dirty.

What matters is not what they decided to write or where they decided to place their pictures, but the process by which they came to their final decision. They had to problem-solve until they were satisfied that their message was delivered they way they had intended.

We are just about ready to harvest our first batch of castings, so there are many more discoveries to be made and much more to document!

6 thoughts on “children’s discoveries and documentation

  1. I feel a purchase of soil in my future….would you spare some worms to help make our new flower bed healthy? That would be a great leap for the students to determine why placing worms in the flower bed would be helpful. I wonder if they would make the connection to fertilizing?

    • Absolutely! By the looks of it, we’re going to have quite a bit of rich castings to add to the soil. I had to do some re-planting at home last week and this year I have an abundance or worms. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind relocating to a warm, cozy flower bed.

  2. It’s so great to see how students decided on and created their own documentation! I’d love to try this with my students!

  3. You’ve inspired me to try another way to invite story sharing – in the past I have printed class activity pictures and invited students to join in the documentation process by providing pre-cut word bubbles or sentence strips, to create books or panels. The way you have done it is one more step removed, by allowing them to do choose what pictures to write about, where to place them, what text form to use… really makes their thinking about writing visible. Every move towards student ownership over their writing is a move towards them finding their authentic voice. Bravo!

    One way my kids like to document their own work in my classroom is through the “vine” app, which allows you to capture very short video clips which loop. Students ask me to come take a clip, or to use it themselves (very, very easy!) and then dictate the title or sentence for sharing on twitter. My morning friends love this way of sharing, and ask for their clips to be shown on “the big screen” (projector) during sharing time. I think I may try to inspire them to try it the way you have demonstrated, simply taking pics (or letting them take pics) and printing a variety for their use. Thank you for such a detailed explanation of the process.

    • I also love what you do with Vine…yet another app you’ve introduced me to! I’ll have to give it a try. I’m always looking for different ways to have the children share. If it’s easy enough for them to use on their own – bonus!

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