Sunday, 15 May 2016

Animal Inquiry Part 2: Learning through Discovery and Play

Discovery Time is a big part of our learning in Room 8. Each morning students are presented with four different play-based activities. These activities stay the same for the duration of the the week. Students may choose which activities they would like to go to and how long they would like to stay. Most of the activities are very open ended which allows students to join in at their own level and challenge themselves when they are ready.

Generally each table has a focus, including literacy, numeracy, fine-motor development, and design/art.

During our animal inquiry, these discovery centres have also allowed students to explore their thinking about animals. This week's centres included:

Cuisenaire Rods (numeracy focus)- These rods are math tools that allow students to explore concepts including making 10, comparing quantities and measurement. When the students first started exploring the rods they were making designs, buildings, and animals. Soon they started lining them up in order of size. One student soon discovery that the largest rod was the same size as 10 of the smallest rods. Soon the students were counting by 10's and making 10's by combining rods when they ran out of the largest rods. This directly relates to our math curriculum and was all learned through play and exploration.

Determining length of rods by lining up single units.

Creating animals using cuisinaire rods.

Composing tweets about their creations.

Ordering rods by measuring

Horse Small World (literacy focus) - This was my first time putting out an invitation like this. I set out some high interest horse books, synthetic grass sheets, toy horses, and Lincoln Logs. I was curious to see what the students would do. My hope was that they would play, use language to express their stories, and possibly build shelters with the logs. I have been extremely impressed to see where they have taken this invitation. Students are sharing, counting and dividing logs evenly, practicing balance, problem solving to build complex structures, using the vocabulary we have learned about animals, and creating dramatic stories to act out.

Another observation from this centre was at the beginning of the week students were creating individual scenes and focused on each having enough materials. By the end of the week they had moved to working together to create a large home and racing centre for the horses. They shared the materials, co-created the scenario, took turns racing, and even wrote rules for the horses.

Animal Drawing (fine motor/art) - At this centre I set out How To Draw books, paper, and drawing tools. Students have been sketching, colouring, and having great discussions about shapes, size, characteristics of animals. They have also been helping each other and improving their drawings from day to day.

The completed drawings have been displayed in our classroom gallery.

Research Projects (literacy/science focus) - Research projects can be tricky for students who are in the pre-reading or beginning reader stage. Often the books are at too high of a level. I loved this graphic organizer because students could summarize information they already knew and gain understanding from pictures and simple text. Some students were focused on writing a lot about a single animal, others studied several different animals. It was exciting to see students so motivated to look for information in books, stretch out sounds to record information, and share their learning with peers and family members.

In our room teachers often scribe students words so we can record all of their thoughts.
Two other centres have been set up in our classroom as invitations to explore animals. We have a Pond Small World with water and a Pet Small World with little animals and accessories. Later in the week the students also created their own Ocean Small World when they realized lots of the animals we had live in the ocean. The students have been focused on acting out scenarios, sorting animals by habitat, sharing toys, and creating homes for the animals, as well as counting, categorizing, and patterning. 

1 comment:

N Rana said...

Yes, I agree that best approach to teach kids is let them explore things and play. This way they can learn easily. If you need more interesting methods, printables and ideas for your kids then I suggest taking a look at It is my favorite resource of fun activities for my kids.