Thursday, May 12, 2011

You Can Lead a Horse To Water

I started this teaching year with great ideas and enthusiasm for the work I, and the children I am working with, would achieve particularly with animation, building on what happened last year. Well, that was the start of me going back to the basis of what we do – who determines the programme in our Kindergarten? THE CHILDREN OF COURSE!

So, despite my discussing what we could do – animation and robotics – despite introducing the precursors to robotics of Logi Blocs and Laser Pegs they were far more engaged by and interested in exploring the sand and water play.  

Mind you I don’t blame them, a hot sunny day, the chance to get under the sprinkler, build dams and water courses in the sand pit, explore the different properties of assorted equipment in the water play area – I know what I would have chosen too. I must confess to ’accidentally’ splashing myself with the hose when pouring water down the slide when creating a water slide to cool off.  I also seemed to just need to adjust the sprinkler head when it was on and had many an interesting and informative discussions in the sand pit with the hoses regularly cooling off the feet.

At the same time as all this was happening the new vegetable garden area I developed with the children late last year, that sits alongside our orchard, started to really come into full production. This has led to much creation of very yummy food with the produce. We have made potato wedges with the potatoes we grew, vegetable quiche with a huge range of home grown veges, feijoa muffins and scones from the fruit from our very productive tree, lemon cake and apple pie with our own apples. The engagement of the children in this process is demonstrated by their suggestions. Scott came in with the first of the apples that fell off the tree to say to me “look we can make apple pie with these now they are ready”. Several of the children appointed themselves ‘official feijoa collectors’ and begin their day collecting the latest fallen fruit to add to our fruit basket for morning tea. 

So, who am I to decide that they should be inside creating animated stories for me to extend on my research? Who am I to decide that what is happening is learning of a determined value or not?

I have spent 12 weeks being blown away and excited by the high level of engagement in our natural world through the simplest of means. The combination of water and sand, the properties of water, the difference being cool can make to our bodies on a hot day, the joy of collecting and making yummy food with produce we have grown and nurtured ourselves, the pleasure in sharing the food we have created communally as we sit sharing it together in a group. The walks around our community (including looking for trolls under bridges) noticing and exploring things we haven’t seen before because we always seem to be in cars these days. All this is valuable and highly effective learning and I have had to accept that my passion for ICT with the children and the ideas I would love to build on and extend don’t always mesh with that of the children. 

The children have continued to take photos and create their own learning stories, they have continued to explore KIdPix, they have continued to want to find information online, they have stimulated and provoked discussion and we have even been to Kelly Tarltons to see the sharks to follow one of their interest areas. However, my own goals have taken a back seat for now –we have winter coming up and what is better to do when inside for much of the time but to explore animation and robotics? The fun in these areas is waiting for them to discover when they are ready!

As an aside one of the children’s favourite online discoveries has been this You Tube clip – they are very interested in fire-fighters and their ancillary equipment at the moment and I was asked to find something online about fire fighting helicopters. Found this with Theo and it has become the most requested piece of footage by everyone. And, it has led the children into their current passion which is ... helicopters!



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