30 January 2009

orange you glad?

Lola and Elliot

Today we are looking at and thinking about the color orange. Chance, Elliot, and Lola have all brought in orange objects and thoughts that they have been collecting since the last time we met. They each present what they have brought and then take turns with certain pieces from each others' collections. I ask the children if they want to group together some of the oranges -- remembering that last week Lola had made three categories of red from their red collections (bright, brick, and fire). Chance, Elliot, and Lola all begin arranging and rearranging the orange objects into what seems to be an endless number of variations.
Wondering about the preferences and associations that each of the children may have with these particular colors, I ask if they would like to group the oranges into two groups -- a sad group and a happy group.

Lola promptly makes two separate piles.

: These are sad. . .

and these are happy.

Lola then pushes the objects from the sad pile over to the happy pile.
Lola: Now they can be happy.

In no time, Lola demonstrates an understanding of the inconstant nature of our relation to color.


23 January 2009


Today we have brought a mirror into the classroom for the first time. Asa, Reuben, and Finn spend time looking at their reflections, and then decide to create masks. Reuben and Finn quickly make masks out of paper, then use scotch-tape to stick them directly to their faces. Asa observes.
Reuben [to Asa]: You could make a mask too, you know.

Once invited, Asa makes a mask similar to the ones that Reuben and Finn have made -- but finds that there might be room for improvement...

Asa: It's too floppy for me when I first tried it on. I'm trying to make it not floppy. The wood sticks are supposed to go on my ears like glasses.
When Asa tries on his second mask he finds that it does not work the way that he had hoped --
then goes to get some thicker paper.

This should work. I hope it works.
Asa gets to the point where he is ready to make the holes for the eyes, but is not sure how to proceed.

I just can't make the eyes.
Reuben: Just poke the scissors through . . . I don't think that will fit your head.
Asa: Reuben, actually this is going to fit my head. It's giant! ...

I did it Reuben!
Reuben: That looks good.

By observing, testing out hypotheses, trying out materials, and asking for advice from his friend -- Asa gains confidence in his ability to think independently and work through difficulties.

"Let me be the one to do what is done." -- Robert Frost


17 January 2009

zombies, mummies, big, and bigger

Skuli: I'm gonna draw a zombie. One small eye and one big eye.
Skuli draws a small circle and then a bigger circle next to it.

As Skuli draws, his concepts expand. He demonstrates an understanding for the way that a circle can be used to represent many things. The zombie eyes can easily become a mummy family.
This [the dot] is the little brother mummy, this [the small circle] is the big brother mummy, and this really big one is the daddy mummy.
Silas: Well actually, that's medium, that's not big.

Skuli: I can draw a really big one.
Skuli starts with a circle and then continues around and around -- as his drawing spirals inward his circle gets filled-in [see filled in circle on the right side of the page]. Thus in this case the biggest circle is not the one with the greatest circumference, but rather the one holding the potential to make the largest circle should the lines unravel.

Skuli then moves on to draw "paths" around the mummies.

Silas, who has been watching from across the table, grabs a green marker and goes over to join in. This spontaneous collaborator seems to go unnoticed by Skuli, who remains focused on the changing field of ideas expressed in his drawing.

16 January 2009

side by side

Silas pushes his sailboat between Sachie and Skuli's castles
As the kids come in and see the wood blocks on the table they begin talking...
Sachie: I'm gonna build something cool. I'm gonna make lots of cool things!

Skuli: Look at what I'm building -- it's cool!
Sachie: What is it?
Skuli: A spaceship.
Sachie: That's not easy!
Sachie begins building with the blocks and finds a bottle cap nearby.
Look at this!
Skuli: It's a bottle cap -- I can throw it in the garbage.
Sachie: No . . . I'm gonna use it!
Sachie places the bottle cap on top of some blocks she has stacked.
Skuli: Now it looks like a castle with that bottle cap!
Sachie and Skuli gain a lot by working side by side -- they delight in each others' innovations and receive encouragement from one another for thinking imaginatively.