Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Gift Of An Acorn

Nature's Collections

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each year the two beautiful oak trees in our schoolyard bring a bounty of acorns. The season of autumn bears many gifts such as the changing colour of the leaves, the production of seeds on so many plants and trees, birds migrating and so many other wonderful moments. The children began noticing some of these seasonal changes and began to point them out to us. We were excited for them to begin to share their thinking around these ideas. 

After filling the sensory bin with acorns we provided a few tools to assist the children with their explorations. They eagerly worked with the acorns and shared their ideas with peers as they scooped the acorns into the wooden bowls. The children noticed many details about the acorns and shared these ideas readily. This was the beginning of our initial observations with the acorns and we allowed the children time to use all of their senses to explore their acorn collection.

When we are first beginning an inquiry or investigation with the children we often give them many varied opportunities to observe and share their thinking and ideas. After working in the sensory bin for a few days we created this invitation to look closely at the tables. Bringing a small group of children to the table to explore the acorns. This gave us new thinking and the children shared their ideas and previous knowledge about acorns with each other. One of the greatest gifts of emergent curriculum and inquiry based learning is that  ultimately the children take ownership over their learning and really beginning to teach each other as they develop the skills to become life long learners. 

Providing the children with a variety of ways to express their thinking is an important part of our early years program. Some children may be more adept at verbally sharing their thinking while others may show their understanding through a drawing. This invitation to create observational art using the acorns as inspiration was greeted with enthusiasm by the children. Each child approached this creative task with their own interpretation of the acorns.

A Space for Further Reflection

The inquiry table became a place for wonderings and further investigation around acorns. The children explored the texts provided and used the materials offered to develop their ideas and we observed and recorded their work here for further reflection. As educators we use these moments to plan with the children our next steps within the classroom. 

The children never cease to amaze me with how they work with the materials provided. I placed a photo of our oak trees at the inquiry space. How appropriate it was for this child to pick the mirror up and use it to observe the reflection of the photo. Such a beautiful way of looking closer. 

We shared the book, "From Acorn to Oak Tree" with the children during shared learning time. After reading the book one of the children stated, "The acorns turn into big oak trees. There are different types of oak trees so there are different kinds of acorns." This prompted a search for a variety of acorn types. I collected a few and brought them in for the children. This week we will plant some of the acorns to see if they grow. The children look forward to seeing what happens. They have shared an understanding that we will have to water the acorns and that they need soil. We look forward to continuing this interest and sharing our explorations with you. We wonder if our acorns will grow?