Literature as a way of understanding

Stories can be a powerful way of helping children to understand the world around them. I asked our librarian, Mrs Kar, if she could recommend some picture books that I could use to help the children explore the concept of learning journeys. She found several books, and I chose “Clem Always Could” by Sarah Watt.

The story is about a boy called Clem who thinks he could always do the things he can do now. When, one day, he has to learn something new, he is worried about what will happen. I read the book several times, so the children were familiar with the story and had time to think about it. Then we talked about the story and thought about the big idea that the author wanted to communicate.

I asked the children to think about a time in their own lives when they had to learn something new, and to show their thoughts on paper. Recently we have been talking about the techniques that illustrators use to help their readers get a clear picture. I reminded the children of some of these techniques and the children got to work. Once the illustrations were finished, we photographed them and put them in a VoiceThread. Over the next week, the children will add voice comments to their photographs. The children have made several VoiceThreads before and are beginning to understand how VoiceThread can be used as a tool for sharing and collaborating with a wider audience.

It would be wonderful if others could add their comments to the photographs, particularly family members or friends who might remember the events described in the illustrations. It is the possibilities for involving others through voice comments that makes VoiceThread such a powerful tool.

Parent Sharing

Today we had our first monthly Parent Sharing session. As part of our Unit of Inquiry into Where We Are In Place and Time, we decided to trial a new initiative to strengthen links between home and school, and to involve parents in their children’s learning. We invited parents in to class so that the children could share their learning over the last six weeks. We videoed the session and speeded up the video clip so that we have a one minute video clip that children and parents can reflect and comment on. We hope that this will help spark discussion at home and at school about the children’s personal learning journeys.

Typhoon Day

Today there is no school because Typhoon 15 looks like it will pass though Yokohama and Tokyo. It is VERY wet where I live! I wonder what the weather is like where you are?

Typhoon "Nabi" - 4PM 09/05/2005 JST

Even though we are all in different places, and not in our classroom, we can use the blog to continue with our inquiries and our learning.

You could:

  • listen to the new comments on the VoiceThread and leave some comments on your friends’ photos.
  • look at the pattern photographs taken by Mr Farrell and Zoe and make some drawings or take photographs of patterns around your house.
  • look at the videos made by Eric Carle, explaining how he makes his illustrations.
  • start a new piece of writing. Remember to add details to your drawings or your text to help the reader to get a clear picture in their mind.

Remember to click on the blue to links to get to the relevant blog posts.

KC Personal Reflections

As part of our unit of inquiry into where we are in place and time, throughout the year the children will be reflecting on their personal learning journeys and on how their growth and development leads to new opportunities. The children have been thinking about things they can do now that they couldn’t do before. They recorded their thoughts on the VoiceThread below.

The children would be delighted if you could share your thoughts on what you notice your child/ sibling/ grandchild/friend can do now that they couldn’t do before. Simply click the comment button on the voice thread to record your comments. Your child can show you how. (Your comments may not show up immediately. I may have to moderate them first.)

Learning Journeys

Throughout the year, the children will reflecting on their personal learning journeys and on how their own growth and learning leads to new opportunities. We are keeping a class diary to record new learnings and developmental land marks. Together, we brainstormed to come up with examples of the kinds of things that might be recorded in our diary. Below are some of the children’s ideas:

  • If your teeth fall out, you could glue them in the book, because then you are getting bigger and your teeth are getting bigger and you can eat strong food.
  • When you can run faster you can write that.
  • Your mum could take a photograph of you when you growed taller.
  • Well I can do basket ball, but I can’t put a ball in the book so I have to do a picture.
  • I can put my story in the book because before I couldn’t even write a story and I couldn’t even write anything.
  • Please could you help your child to record any important achievements that occur at home? Perhaps your child has mastered a new routine, or they can now do a particular job independently. This success could be recorded in a photograph, drawing or words that could be brought into school to share in our Learning Journey diary.

    The Hungry Monster

    Over the last few days, some children have been coming back time and time again to the kitchen area in Free Inquiry Time. They are keen to have an adult engage in their play scenarios. Today, Leander joined the children in the kitchen and brought a new play scenario with him. I recorded as much as I could of the enfolding story, both in words and photographs. Afterwards I reviewed the photographs with Leander and we talked about the story. Some of the Kindergarten children have shown a deep interest in making movies recently. I suggested to Leander that we make a movie out of his story.

    All the children were delighted with the result, and were excited to think that their stories could become movies. Perhaps this will inspire some of the children to explore other movie making possibilities.

    How tall is Carl?

    This morning, in response to the children’s ongoing interest in measuring, I ask the children if they would be interested in measuring each other. Saku claps his hands with delight. “That’s an excellent idea!” proclaims Lisa. “Let’ measure who is the biggest” suggests Aika. “Carl! Carl is biggest” says Issey.

    The children begin to organize themselves into a line. This proves to be quite difficult. Everyone has different ideas and the children struggle to find a consensus. I am not sure whether I should intervene or not. I observe for several minutes and finally intervene when I feel the children are becoming frustrated. After a little input from me, the children come up with a common vision and I return to the background, as an observer.

    The children organize themselves into a line and take turns to see if everyone is in the correct order. Once they are happy with the result they spend a few seconds enjoying their achievement till Jenny wonders, “But how will we still know? We can’t stay here all the time, like all night and for ever, don’t you know!” “We can do a list.” Eileen suggests and quickly gets a clip-board and paper to record this data.

    The next morning, we look again at the list. I point out that now we know that Carl is the tallest but we still dont know how tall he is. Lars asks Carl to stand up, and the measuring begins.

    How tall is Carl? on PhotoPeach

    This is an ongoing inquiry. It has raised questions which will help the children to understand the need for standard units and a degree of accuracy. I wonder where the children will take this next?

    A measurement inquiry starts…

    Ever since Carl put out some rulers for his mathematical inquiry, I have observed that the children have shown an interest in measuring. A few mornings ago, Aika suggested we have  “a measuring inquiry”.  I asked the children what the inquiry would be about.

    • So that we can find out stuff about measuring.
    • So we do inquiry so we know how to measure.
    • I know already.  You need stick.
    • A long stick with lots of numbers on.
    • You can just have short stick and you can stick together.
    • No need numbers.  Stick.
    • Yes!  Need numbers.
    • The numbers tell you how big it is.
    • But you can do it with no numbers if you count.  Then you dont need numbers, you just have to count.
    • You need a short stick for measuring short stuff and a long stick for measuring long stuff.
    • If there is no numbers on the stick you have to write them on.
    • Kilometers is for measuring.
    • Kilometers is for measuring roads.
    • And houses.  And there’s 100 kilometeres.
    • You have to measure because if you want to make a house it has to be the proper size.
    • More than one kilometer.
    • Otherwise it will be a funny shape.  Like a octagon.
    • Not a funny shape, the wrong size.

    So … the children spent the morning inquiring. That afternoon, I read them The Fabric of Measurement. This beautiful, hard-backed book documents a measuring project carried out by some of the KC children when they were in the ELC. The following day, the children are eager to continue with their personal inquiries.