Wonders, interests and curiosities are just waiting to be sparked. Once they are, it is my role to honour and nourish them so they can grow into a deep learning experience for my learners. This post outlines practical ways to honour and nourish an inquiry that develops from the interest and choices of your learners. It all started out with creating bird nests outdoors and here is where our journey continued to.
Outside, my learners were very interested in building birds nests. This activity was sparked organically. They planned, gathered, collaborated and created. They problem-solved, used oral language to discuss, laughed and shrieked with excitement. I hope some of the following practical ways I supported my learners in extending their learning and thinking will inspire you.
Book Baskets: I realized the interest and wonders about birds was contagious and my learners were beginning to ask questions about birds and building birds nest during our free exploration time. I decided to fill our morning book baskets with non-fiction bird books. A colleague of mine, Leilani Roberts, inspired me to try morning book baskets this year. I have two large baskets on the carpet, each morning, filled with non-fiction texts for the children to explore. I have added post-it notes so they can mark interesting images, or pages they have questions about. Then we can explore them together as a group.
Provocations: I set up various provocations around the room: a bird research centre, paper bag nest making, and for the win a clay bird nest making tote. The tote was such a success! They loved rolling, modeling and creating little bird nests and using bird figurines for dramatic play.
Morning Story Inquiry: Each week we focus on inquiring about a different picture book. We wonder about the characters, setting, vocab words (as we are learning French), and the different ways we can retell the story. I decided to weave in stories that focused on birds and that would inspire us to retell and recreate bird stories of our own. Monday I introduce the book and we do a whole group retell. Tues through Thursday we build and create using various materials from our story inquiry shelves. On Fridays it is a free build or choice to retell through drawing and painting. The children love having choices in how they show their understanding and learning from the week.
Class Play: We started learning a class play about a chicken. It is a similar story to Chicken Little, La poule Maboule (AIM Language Learning Kit). Because a chicken is a bird (which for some reason they giggled a lot at), and it is a great oral language piece to learn in Kindergarten. We’ve been doing journaling about the setting and about the chicken. We loved comparing her to the birds we have been learning about in our non-fiction texts and seeing outside in our playground. They thought it was interesting that she lived at a farm and not flew freely and built her own nest.
Research Books: Our love and interest for birds continued to grow and I decided to guide my learners through a research series of activities using a research book template. The booklet is a half page booklet filled with research stems. We followed the stems as a whole group and used non-fiction texts to help us research. We are working on ‘Regarde partout hibou’ which is similar to ‘Eagle Eye’ reading strategy. We are learning that a picture can tell a story and share ideas. We are using little owls glued onto clothespins to mark interesting pictures, during research, that tell us information or propose new thinking.
Communicating Learning: Sharing our learning with our families is an important focus of mine. I use weekly email updates and communicate a few times a week via Fresh Grade to our portfolios. Using Canva (an online tool) I created a visual documentation of a provocation activity. A student brought in a nest from home and it sparked wonderful questions, insights, wonders and stories. It also inspired others to bring in nests and feathers from home to share with us. The ripple effect was neat to witness.
Art Mural: I love creating art provocations and activites for my learners to engage in revolving our inquiry learning topics. My learners were loving our paper bag birds nest provocation so much that everyone had made at least one. We decided to look on Pinterest for a fun bird art activity. I love using Pinterest with my learners to search and to be inspired; what a game changer it is to be inspired by other childrens’ work and learning! We ended up creating a large tree mural scene for our birds to perch on.
I hope some of these ideas and routines can be of help to you in nurturing and following the interest of your learners. Teach slow, know your curriculum (this led to so many connections for us), listen, and really know your students and you’ll be of witness to what interest them the most. Follow it, invite and support them in exploring it, set up further provocations and document, document, document!
We just visited the Family & Belongings exhibit so we are jazzed about families and objects that remind us of our families. This is where our interests and learning will be taking us to next. What is driving your learners at the moment? In what ways are you supporting them and encouraging them to go deeper with their interests? I’d love to hear and see what you’re doing.