Monday, April 23, 2012

If You Find a Rock...

When I met one of my teaching partners, Sarah, her love of nature was infectious. I didn't know how much I loved trees, plants, and natural materials. The way that I value nature has really transformed...the way that I am inspired now is through nature. So much of children's curiosity stems from nature.

I gave her this book earlier in the year, when I saw it online I was immediately drawn to it and knew it would inspire both her and the children:

The book is beautiful and it describes rocks in ways that make sense to children - skipping rocks and wishing rocks fill the pages.

After reading this story to our class, we placed it at nature with some rocks. It was like magic the way that the children became fascinated with rocks. They quickly found rocks during outdoor play. They shared their findings with their friends and with us.

One little girl was really excited, she shared that she has a rock and shell collection at home. While outside she found different rocks - she explained that one of them was definitely a piece of the sun. It must have fell off of the sun in the winter because it would be really hot if it fell off recently. Another rock she determined was from the moon. She could tell because it had craters like the moon does.

Her final rock was definitely from a statue, a statue of a man she said. She was so confident in her descriptions of the rocks that all of her friends took every word to be the definite truth. Other students were bringing rocks to her as though she possessed the magic of knowing where the rock came from. One student said to her, "this rock is just from the ground". She replied "but where did it come from first?".

I thought to myself, is this really Kindergarten? Is this all a part of my job? These children were having conversations that were deep and meaningful. They were making predictions and assumptions and no one was telling them they were wrong.

They felt safe and confident, they felt smart and important. Isn't that really the whole idea behind education? To allow children the freedom to be brilliant, the freedom to express.

With such a high interest and curiousity this fascination with rocks was brought back inside. The children were inspired to make their own pictures and write about the types of rocks they sketched and painted. We were able to guide their learning and develop their skills as artists and writers...because they felt important, because they were interested, and because they were inspired.

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