Throughout November and December, we continued to inquire and learn about ourselves and in turn learning about our families became our jam.
To read about how we have been connecting to our place and self see my last post: here. We had been exploring down a path inspired by Adrienne Gear‘s work, specifically her ‘We Are All Connected’ workshop. To see her package of resources and links to beautiful picture books click here.
As I shared in my previous post, we had visited the beautiful Royal BC Museum to spark this self inquiry, and honed in on what a family is, what family means to us and had us thinking and wondering about our families. From our visit, many tradition and celebration discussions and wonders were exchanged.
“I saw a button blanket at the Museum, I wonder if it the same one as my Grandma has at her house?” -L.
In inquiry, when powerful questions surface -we follow them! Our job, as the Inquiry Teacher, is to be part of the inquiry as well. We can curate resources to keep the question alive. Our role is to nurture the question and provide experiences and time to go deeper with the thinking behind the question. We followed down this button blanket path, as many of our learners were curious as to what is a button blanket, and why did L’s Grandma have one? We borrowed a district kit and learned about button blankets. We explored different patterns, shapes, animals and shared our thinking.
We used Padlet to make our thinking and questions visible. We created a visual wonder wall. Interested? Here is the link. Padlet is a great tool for creating visual wonder walls or whole group brainstorms. It is great way to share with the families in your learning community to engage and connect them with your learning.
We followed in the direction of a few different picture books. We spent some time reading and retelling “Mama Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse. We loved reading and learning about how families come together in “My Family Tree and Me” by Dusan Petricie. This story has two sides, one is about the Father’s family and leads you to a family portrait, and the other side (starts at the back) is about the Mother’s family and leads you to the same family portrait in the middle. Super neat, the children loved it! We also read about different types of families in “A Family Is A Family” by Sara O’Leary. This story resonated with lots of the children in our class and sparked discussions about how our families are different and similar. I teach French Immersion but do not, and will not, stay clear of beautiful picture books. We spend time talking about vocabulary and a lot of French ‘ad libbing’ is involved when reading these books.
As we continued learning about our families, we learned about family trees and how they can be used to document who is in our family and what generation they are from. We also learned about circular forms of documentation, shared by Adrienne Gear, and kept our learning documented in a circular format. Adrienne Gear’s has this form of documentation as a resource. I tweaked ours a little bit to fit our learning path. Adrienne’s version has more circles as it is proposed for Grade 2 or 3 learners, and touches on community. Ours has a circle for self, family, home and then the outer layer is for land. For family we worked on illustrating who was in our family and labeling them with initial sounds. Documenting our learning process is one way to make learning and growth visible. It helps celebrate the learning process, and highlights our thinking.
We also learned about Totem Poles and how they can represent traditions, stories and families. We loved reading “Sometimes I Feel Like A Fox” by Danielle Daniel. The book explores the idea of traditional Indigenous meanings and teachings that are represented by animals, this links well to Totems and our learning about our District’s Spirit of Alliances. We talked about the different teachings presented in the book and thought about which animals represent our family members. Congruently we were doing a lot of story retelling about Foxes, so it was quite fitting to do an art activity inspired by this book. I love when our learning overlaps and becomes full circle, so neat.
We also created heart maps of our families. I tend to do this project every year, as it is so beautiful. It is inspired from the book “My Map Book” by Sara Fanelli. I typically bring it out around Valentine’s Day, but thought it would be fitting to surface during our family discussions and have a focus on family. The children worked, quite independently, on creating maps of their heart to demonstrate the members in their family. They all were unique, some had initial sound labels and others had names and words from a word bank.
Our family journey ended up being much more complex and deep than I had originally planned for, but that is the beauty of working with inquiry. Unexpected turns and conversations spark, and when we’re open to following them and exploring the questions that arise, beautiful learning happens.
I would love to hear of the picture books you find useful to spark family and self conversations.
What are some ways you are connecting to the idea of family in your classroom?
Thank you for reading.