Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Leaves Illuminated

Autumn's Light

"How beautifully leaves grow old,
How full of light and colour are their last days."

John Burroughs

This blog post is the second in a series about our Autumn leaves inquiry. In this post I will share with you two of the invitations or learning provocations that were created for the children to explore within our learning environment. The first invitation was created for the children using the light panel. Within the Reggio Emilia approach to early learning there is a strong focus on how light whether natural light or artificial is used throughout the learning environment. 

"The teachers prepare the environment to allow light into the room, to flood light from underneath and through objects on the light table, to create shadows on the floor and the wall with an overhead projector. This emphasis comes from a deep understanding of how light calls our attention to changes in colour, form, and motion, to personal perspective, and to a ubiquitous and  integrative source that brings disparate objects into elegant relations."
Pg 374 The Hundred Languages of Children
- Edwards, Gandini and Forman -

Therefore we provided an opportunity for the children to use light as a tool to further their investigations and thinking around leaves. They were invited to explore autumn leaves using tracing paper, Crayola markers and watercolour paints on the light panel. The children began by using the magnifying lens to look closely at the leaves. It was my hope that they would explore the various shapes of leaves and discover the veins within the leaves and they did. The children really enjoyed using the tracing paper and it's transparent quality. The experience of painting on the light panel was also quite magical. The interaction of the light and the paint added a special quality to their art work. They observed the paint and it's relationship with the leave underneath of the tracing paper. With each stroke of the paintbrush the children were transforming the colour of the Autumn leaf. While the children worked they also readily shared their observations of the leaves with each other making their thinking known not just visually with their paintings by also orally during discussion. The following photos document their learning at this invitation. 

Here are how their paintings looked when they were dry and not on the light panel. I think they turned out beautifully and we displayed their work in the atelier for everyone to enjoy.

The sharing bag also enhanced the children's interest in leaves as many of them brought leaves from home to present each morning when it was their turn as the blessing of the day. These daily presentations connected our learning at school with the wider community as we discovered new leaves and trees from the children's neighborhoods. The sensory bin became a treasure trove of the children's leaves. They worked at the inquiry table as well. The children used the clipboards and paper to record their observations and thinking. We researched their questions about what kind of leaves they were collecting on the iPad and read the text, "Autumn Leaves" by Ken Robbins.

Drawing Leaves
Exploring Chalk Pastels

Marc brought two very different leaves to school for the children to investigate. He presented both of them during our morning meeting. Marc then took his leaves to the table for further investigation. The table was set with chalk pastels, paper, and magnifying lens to allow the children to document their leaf collection and take a closer look at the individual leaves.

Rocco asked Marc, "Why is that leaf spiky?" Marc replied by saying, "I found both of the leaves on the ground." Then he said to Rocco, "They are bigger." I encouraged Marc to use the magnifying lens to look closer at his leaves. Marc shared his observations with the children at the table. He said, "I can tell that all the leaves have lines."  Marc begins to draw his leaf. As he draws he pauses to look closely at the leaf with the magnifying lens. He works carefully and quietly recording his observations. 

Some of my favourite photos while documenting are those depicting the children's remnants of learning. They often tell the most beautiful learning story of all.
The next blog post will focus on the children's thinking and theories about Autumn leaves, plus our land art inspired by Andy Goldsworthy and more Friday Forest visits. I can't wait to share the rest of our beautiful Autumn photo's with you.