Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Curiosity & Discovery


"By being curious, we explore. 

By exploring, we discover. 
When this is satisfying, we are more likely to repeat it.
By repeating it, we develop competence and mastery. 
By developing competence and mastery, our knowledge and skills grow. 
As our knowledge and skills grow, we stretch and expand who we are and what our life is about. By dealing with novelty, we become more experienced
and intelligent and infuse our lives with meaning."   

   (Curious by Todd Kashdan, p.19-20)

In our classroom, curiosity, exploration and discover are actively encouraged through engagement with materials. The goal is not to learn to follow steps to complete a project the teacher created but rather to engage with materials as a way of expressing and discovering ideas. Sometimes the material leads to the idea and sometimes an idea seems to want to be formed with a particular media. Whatever the media, the idea is to be energized by finding one's unique artistic vision. Working among artist peers in the classroom adds to this experience.  

What beings as open ended exploration leads to discovery - from the most basic discoveries that glue is sticky to more complex learning about colour mixing. 

Kashdan writes that when the discovery is satisfying, it is more likely to be repeated. What makes a discovery satisfying? Often it is just having someone to share it with; having a witness to his or her process deepens a young child's engagement. Other times reflecting on the process through photos, portfolio review, speaking about artwork in a group, and writing children's statements increases the sense of satisfaction. Working with materials lead to development of confidence, skills, and the ability to make meaning through art. It is delightful to be a part of this process. 

Art Inspired by Music

We were inspired by a book by Eric Carle, “I See a 
Song”. This beautiful book took the children and me on a magical musical journey.

As we continued to watch and listen, the black and white illustrations of the violinist fade and Eric Carle’s artwork transforms to the music.

At the beginning of the book, a violinist explains:

I see a song.

I paint music. 

I hear colour.

The violinist begins with no colour.

As the music changes so do the paintings.

The change in volume and tempo of the music
is reflected in the paintings. 

Why might Eric Carle have called his story, “I 
see a song?”

A.L: Because you see them on stage.

S.M: Because the man was playing a song and everybody was watching.

C.Z: Because the people who sang the song need to go on a stage.

T.K: When you listen to music you paint a picture in your brain. 

How would you describe Eric Carle's paintings as the music played?

S.M: In the first time the music was low and the second time the music was high, the painting had a little raindrops, the painting were spreading.

C.Z: because the music sometimes is getting lower and lower and faster and faster, and the paintings change, the people who paint them make it different colours. 

T.K: And you are using your imagination with your brain. 

Exploring Materials

Painting materials included a selection of different sized brushes, 
small pebbles, sticks, bubble wrap, sand paper, jute, 
cotton balls, pastels, crayons, chalk, and sparkles.

Inspired by this book, we listened to music by the 
Toronto Symphony to see if we could “hear colour” and use our imaginations to “paint a picture with our brains.”

Paint and a collection of materials to paint and create with were set up for the children to explore.

Inspired by Music

We selected our music, Mozart: Symphony No. 25 in G minor, Rachmaninoff: Piano Concert No. 2, Berstein: Candide Overture all of which was performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. 

First Marks on Paper

The children began to create:

Movement in Painting

A.R. used a palate tool. The strokes of paint on resembled a violin strings, even his neck and arms mimicked a violinist playing the violin.

What could this beautiful brushstroke be?

S.M: The music is gentle, so I am painting gently.
It’s slow so the brush moves slow, slow, slow. 

A.C. started painting with brushes, then popsicle sticks and sponges.

A.C: Fast, and fast, and aaaaaaaaa. 
Twirling, twirling and I need this, ooooo, and this and the music is getting so fast!

Can you Hear Colour?

It was fascinating to observe the children’s movements as they painted using the rollers and brushes. As certain parts of the music grew lower, the children smacked the paint on the paper, and as the music grew softer, their fingers swirled and blended the paint. 

L.M.enjoyed exploring the texture of the paints. 

Experimenting with Texture

R.S. explored printmaking using the jute and bubble wrap.
R.S. added bubble wrap and jute to her painting. This gave a new dimension to the painting.


From Exploration to Self-Expression

Through this experience, we observed the children’s 
creativity, imagination, self-expression, sensory exploration and how the children connected with the music.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Children’s Theories on Why Leaves Change Colour

A conversation about seasonal changes through watercolour representations. 

Exploring Environmental Changes

Leaves, Leaves & More Leaves

Observing and Recreating
Fine Lines of Leaves

The Many Languages of Children

Explaining Natural Phenomena through Art

The Building Inquiry

“A construction site at our school!”

We went outside to play in our playground one day and… there was a fence surrounding the playground that said “construction zone”.

Curious Children

The children were very curious about this fence and what was going to happen to their playground. Later that day the children got to meet the construction workers who shared with the children that they would be doing some work to the playground.

The Blueprint

One of the construction workers, Bob was holding a large roll. The children asked Bob what he had. He told them that he had the blueprint for the new playground area. Bob unrolled the blueprint to share with the students. Seeing a real blueprint was so exciting and became the provocation for a new inquiry.

Observing a Real Blueprint

Bob, kindly allowed our class to bring their blueprint into our classroom for a closer look. The children observed the blueprint making observations and asking many questions.

L.C.: What are those circles?
T.K: Is that supposed to be a swimming pool?
A.L: What are those numbers for?
M.Y: There are so many numbers!

A Conversation about Blueprints

Following the student’s close observation of the 

blueprint, we had a class discussion about 


Ms. P: What is a blueprint?

S.M: Kind of like you print something in blue.

C.Z: Paper is called a blueprint.

S: paper to make the park bigger.

A.L: Print a picture and it’s blue and it tells you what to do.

S.M: I think it’s like instructions.

Ms. P: what are instructions?

S.M: It means they have a plan for something.

Ms. P: Why do you think the builders 
have a plan before they begin building?

S: To see what they are building.

A.L: Because if they don’t have a plan they are 
not going to know what to build.

T.K: I think at the block center we should make a 
plan so we know what to build.

Ms. P: What a fabulous Idea! We are going to leave 
clipboards with paper for boys and girls to makes plans before building at the block center. 

Questions for provocation:

During our outdoor exploration, the 
children observed the construction workers busy at work.

Ms. P: What do you see?

S.M: They are putting new sand, that truck will move it with its wheels and then we will play.
C.Z: The truck is making a big hole for the pool.
A.R: They are digging and digging for a treasure.
S.T: The truck is digging and the sand is going down, down.
E.L: We see building stuff.
T.K: They are building a park with basketball nets and sand is in a pile. They are building together and working together.
S: They are building and digging the sand and digging to put new sand to play.
A.L: They are going to build that thing that puts the ball and make the sand more bigger so the children will have fun and that’s all.
C.Z: I see dandelions and flowers and feathers.

Everyday when we walk by we see they are digging the dirt.

Where is the dirt going?

E.L: put it in the truck.
E.C: In the garbage can.
S: They are turning all the sand in the truck and putting it for a new house to build.
A.R: they are going to put it in a different truck and put it in a new playground. 

Making a Plan

While engaged in inquiry-based learning at the block center, a few of the children created plans for their structures.

A.L: If we put all the blueprints together like a puzzle then we will know what we are building. Shaheem and me and the other guys are working together and we are the bosses. But I carry the blue prints.

S: Step back it’s dangerous here. You need a construction hat.

T.K: It’s not dangerous for me, I work here.

S: It’s no safe that’s why there is a fence. 

Some of the children used the blueprints and classroom blocks to show their representation of what our new park will look like.

We also continued this inquiry in partnership with our Teacher Librarian, Ms. Cosgrove. We will post more from this inquiry soon!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Building a Multicultural Alphabet

The children worked very hard to create an alphabet 
out of the materials they brought into our classroom 
for our Beautiful Stuff Project. This has inspired a new project! We would like to celebrate all cultures in our classroom by creating and displaying alphabets made up of letters from the languages that the children in our class speak.

Our aim is to represent all of the cultures of our 
students by inviting children to share the alphabets of their first languages.

Exploring Multiple Alphabets

Through this exploration of alphabets from different 
parts of the world, the children are beginning to explore concepts of community, appreciation, self-identity, self-worth and peace. This project has also added a new dimension to our understanding of the concept of “beauty”.

When children share parts of their culture what affect 
does this have on community building within the classroom environment?

What questions do the children have about each 
other’s languages and cultures?

How do children feel about speaking multiple languages?

Sparking Discussion

The sharing of the multicultural alphabet provoked a 
discussion about similarities and differences between cultures.

We asked the children to discuss their feelings on speaking multiple languages:

T.K: I love C. because she speaks 
a different language and I think it’s beautiful. 

Painting a Mandala

A Mandala of Letters from 

All Around the World

A Powerful Message

During our discussion, the idea that speaking multiple languages is “beautiful” emerged. The children came up with a powerful message.

“My language is beautiful, so is yours.”   - T.K.

A special thank you to parents and grandparents for helping us with our project by writing out alphabets, printing out online versions of alphabets, and writing out names in different languages.

Counting & Representing Numbers

Labelling a 10–Frame

From Whole Group to Small Group

Earlier this week, the children participated in creating a collection of counting tiles for our classroom. Next, it was time for us to release some of the responsibility to the children. The children were invited to form small groups.

Each group created one 10 frame by labeling each box with the numbers 1-10.

A precious moment captured:
S.M. a SK student helping 
R.S. a JK 
student write the number 2. 

Once the boxes had been label the children selected a basket with manipulatives. They began to count out objects to match with each numbers.

Representing the Numbers

Even though the rocks were different sizes and colours, the children demonstrated an understanding that each rock represented one. 

Creating Counting Tiles


Competent counting requires mastery of a symbolic system, facility with a complicated set of procedures that require pointing at objects and designating them with symbols, and understanding that some aspects of counting are merely conventional, while others lie at the heart of its mathematical usefulness.                                                     (Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, p.159)

Many of the mathematical concepts that students learn 
in the first few years of school are closely tied to counting.

Curriculum Expectation:

NS1 demonstrate an understanding of numbers, using 
concrete materials to explore and investigate counting, quantity, and number relationships.

Our Hands on Thinking Center now includes manipulatives to support the children in developing number sense and numeration skills such as counting, quantity and representing numbers.  

Representing Numbers

To support the children in developing counting, quantity, and number representation skills, we co-constructed number tiles.

Counting Tiles

The children began by taking turns labelling tiles from 1 to 10. 

Representing the Numbers

The children then took turns representing the numbers 
using a variety of different materials.

While the children counted out beads, buttons, 
marbles, etc. we emphasized the concept of one-to-one correspondence and using our fingers to touch each object as we counted.

Displaying the Numbers



The number tiles are now displayed at our Hands on Thinking center for the children to refer to during play.