more leaf inspirations

Last week we went on a leaf hunt. The children collected leaves of different shapes, sizes and colours. When we returned to our classroom, the children each took a leaf and described something they noticed. They discovered that some leaves have spots, some are droopy and others are “stinky”.  Using their words, we engaged in some shared writing.  As they took a closer look, the children also noticed that “leaves have lines.”  We are fortunate to have a light table, the leaves were placed on the light table for further exploration.  At first, the children sorted the leaves.  As a small group took a closer look, I revisited their idea that leaves have lines and encouraged them to trace their favourite leaf onto a piece of transparency.  This reminded me of some wonderful art work I had the opportunity to see at the Bishop Strachan School last year which inspired what follows.

Using the overhead projector, the leaf drawings were projected for the children.  Projecting their leaf drawings added yet another dimension to their experience with light, shadow, and their drawings.  As the children painted, more children became interested and were also inspired to trace a leaf.  Once their paintings dried, they added colour.  I was amazed at how much care even the younger children took as they painted.  We are now paying much closer attention to the lines we see in our environment.  I have a feeling this could be the inspiration for a line project!

more than a collage

We took the children on a nature walk so they could make some observations about things they noticed in the natural environment.  Although not many leaves had yet changed colours, there were several on the ground that the children found interesting.  We collected some of the things they found and brought them back to the classroom.  The children collected a lot of the same types of leaves.  We put what they had collected out on some butcher paper to see what they would do.  For me, this was another lesson in patience and honouring the unexpected.  I thought this would be the perfect opportunity for the children to sort and I could have easily told them to do so.  Instead, I decided to watch and listen.  A couple of children immediately brought the magnifying glasses over and began examining the leaves.  They noticed that some were soft, and some were “crunchy” (There was the sorting I had anticipated, but that was where it ended.)  A few of children decided to rub the crunchy leaves between their hands and enjoyed watching the leaves become “crumbs.”  Someone decided to make a picture and realized she needed some glue.  Her piece of paper was cut and she brought it over to the Studio to create her masterpiece.  

This encouraged a friend to come over and help.  The individual work of art now became a collaborative piece as the two girls created together.  Other children also wanted their little piece of butcher paper cut so they could create their own collages.  The girls’ collage became a story about their nature walk and a demonstration of cooperation.  What I thought would be a simple sorting exercise turned into a much richer experience.  The children observed, wondered about the crunchy leaves, engaged in a sensory experience, artistically represented their thinking, retold the story of their walk, and collaborated with peers.  What seems on the surface to be a simple collage of leaves, is really so much more.  It will be interesting to see what the children find on our next walk and the changes they might notice.  

observing sunflowers

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been settling into new routines and getting to know each other.  Since this is our first official blog post for the school year, I’d like to take a moment to welcome all of our new families.  I hope you find the blog enjoyable and that you visit often!

I love this time of year.  The air is becoming crisp and the leaves are beginning to show some of their vibrant colours.  Sunflowers are abundant and add bursts of colour in local grocery stores,  flower shops and farmers’ markets.  Why not add some of these beautiful blooms to the classroom?  A bouquet was placed in the Discovery Centre as a provocation.  Several of the children were interested in the flowers.  Here are a few of their early observations:

Bumblebees come to sunflowers.    

Right in there is the nectar.

There’s water inside.  The sunflowers are moving.

Seeds! (pointing to the middle.)

Sunflowers make seeds.  When it rains, seeds come out.

The other flowers are not ok.  These ones are broken.  The petals.  Just a few of them.

Some of the flowers didn’t have lots of sunshine.

They are drooping.

Too much water, they get sick.

Some children drew their observations.  I was puzzled as to why one of the children drew her hand, so I asked her to tell me about her picture.  She said, “I touch sunflowers.”  Of course!  Her picture makes perfect sense.  Everyday, I learn a new lesson.  What we “read” from a child’s picture is not necessarily the message they are trying to convey.  We need to continually ask questions to help them communicate their thinking.


discovering the signs of autumn

Today I read the children Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert.  We started talking about the changes that happen in autumn.  Some children are experiencing our Canadian seasons for the very first time.  I asked the children, “What do you know about autumn?”  They’re always happy to share their ideas, so having them share with a buddy gives them all a voice.  I then asked them to draw or write one thing they knew about autumn and had them share their thinking with the group.

We’ve been so lucky to have summer-like weather.  It hardly feels like fall!  We decided to go on a “discovery walk” to search for clues that it is indeed fall.  Armed with clipboards and magnifying glasses the children embarked on their mission.

Our “discovery walk” produced some wonderful authentic pieces of writing.  The children shared everything from scribbles, to diagrams, to lists, to early sentences.

The children decided to bring a few things into our classroom to investigate further.  A few insects tagged along…BONUS!
What fun!  I can’t wait to hear the questions they have as they continue to investigate!