Early Years teachers activate children's sense of wonder
Posted 01/26/2016 01:27PM

 

The “wonder” and “imagination” buttons of Early Years children were activated through thought-provoking projects their teachers had initiated with them since the beginning of the year.

Projects went from the practical to the scientific to the abstract, but in all cases they nurtured children’s natural sense of wonder and creative thinking skills.

The result: New discoveries were made.

Teachers would come up with “provocations” or open-ended activities that would stimulate the 3-to-6-year-olds’ wondering, questioning, hypothesizing, creating, problem solving, collaborating, communicating, and making sense of the world around them.

All this was documented in PowerPoint presentations that were shared with children and their parents during the month of January, much to the delight and pride of all.

The various projects that were investigated included: Rainbow, Recycling, Light, Colors, Digital Landscapes, Fostering a Creative Mind, The Mysterious Key, Clay, Paper, Construction, Buttons, Wire, Milk, Teepee, Airplanes and Extra Water.

For example, in the project “It Will Not Be Nice without Color,” the children were offered white play dough to play with. As they experimented with it, they would ask: “Why is it white?” “Why doesn’t it have colors?” “We need to put color and make it nice to play with it.”

The teachers took this opportunity to launch an inquiry into the value of color and its function. They started off with the question, “How can we color play dough?” The children answered, “We can use markers;” “We can color with this (oil pastel);” “I know we should add food coloring and cold water.”

The teachers offered the children all the materials they needed to experiment with their ideas and eventually they made new discoveries and comments: “We need colors to make things nicer in the world.”

More investigation. More reflection.

With each provocation, the teacher documented the children’s ideas, observations and dialogue, and challenged them with questions and materials that facilitated and deepened their learning, satisfied their curiosity and helped them construct their own knowledge.

Not only did the projects intrigue the children but they also elicited fascination among parents.

One parent recounted how her son would continue asking questions, trying to crack the puzzle he was tackling at school, even on weekends. “I have to admit that as adults we can sometimes be constrained and limited by our own thinking,” she said. “Kids have an innate ability to think outside the box and come up with ideas we would never come up with. Sometimes they are silly and outrageous, but nonetheless creative. And that's exactly what the PowerPoint showed how the kids thinking and performing in certain activities or problem-solving with your great effort and commitment in our kids.”

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