What is a living thing? Pumpkins, gourds, calico corn, potted flowers, acorns, rocks and feathers are some of the items placed at the Discovery Table for the children to investigate. The obvious items such as the flowers and rocks were not given very much attention. The children were more intrigued with the gourds and the corn and they began to compare them. A fresh cob of corn was included with the flint and calico corn.
Here are a few of their observations:
S – Pumpkins are real, but this one (the gourd) is fake, because if you throw it down it will break…I don’t think it’s real.
A – This is real corn!
“S” noticed the calico corn and said, “These are not real!”
“A” took the fresh corn and said, “It is real. It has seeds inside and it’s real and it’s really hard.”
One of the things I found interesting as I listened to their conversations was just how intrigued they were. They kept comparing the gourd to the pumpkin and the fresh corn to the dried. The children kept referring to the “realness” of the object in determining whether it was a living thing. When they shared their investigations during our debrief, I asked, “How do you know if something is living?” Their attention once again turned to the corn and they began to talk about seeds and explained that living things grow. As a result of their uncertainty about the corn, I asked them how we could find out if the corn was living or not based on their theory that living things grow. “A” said, “If you give them plenty of sun and water, they will grow.” So, that’s what we did. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about the calico corn because it came with a “for decorative purposes only” label. After two weeks I was about to give up on it and then it happened. The dried corn began to sprout and the fresh corn began to dry out. Their wonderings and observations continued:
M – Maybe when it’s dying the colour was that and maybe it’s the same.
D – I see dirt on it.
M – Why is there brown stuff and black stuff on the side? “D”! Look! See?! There’s a red thing at the side!
D – There’s a seed popping up! And one over here!
Another group of students observed the fresh corn which was also sitting in water for the same amount of time.
A – It’s shrinking because of the juices gets out (gestures shrinking with her hands).
N – The corn is not growing. It’s drinking water.
H- I think it’s living because when you touch it, it moves. This piece is getting longer.
S- It’s like a big seed because it’s growing.
The sprouting corn continues to intrigue the Grade 1 students. They have been recording their research using pictures, diagrams and words. As we continue to learn through inquiry, I’m realizing that the inquiry process itself is a “living thing” and that time, patience, and growth are to inquiry as sun, water and sprouts are to the corn.