Collaborative sand mandala project.
The Filled In Worksheet
fill in the blanks
of your narrowing minds
confined to an edge
a crying out for real work.
in a monochrome classroom
nearly identical papers
are disposed of with ease
tossed into the melting pot.
temporarily absolved of the tedium
of filled in worksheets
the children breathe
for a moment.
“A pitcher cries for water to carry,
and children for work that is real.”
- Marge Piercy
As part of our investigation into the First Nation peoples of the plains, the children decided that we needed to make a big teepee in our classroom. Here she be!
Another new year with new challenges and excitement begins! Here is our class made alphabet for the year.
We were asked to bring in an artifact to summarize our learning from my graduate class as a final project.
My artifact was this framed lighthouse painting with a poem I wrote. I chose a llighthouse (painted by a student in my class) to represent the hope this course has given me for the future of education and of humanity. Written in gold ink is a poemish story I wrote that summarizes my feelings about what education should consist of, as learned through this course I took. Here is the text:
A Sentinel of Hope
In the darkness of the world, an ancient lighthouse shone.
As the beacon travelled across the sky, it illuminated the night.
“Hope,” said the light. “Hope for a life of creativity and joy. Live with openness and rich imagination. Surround yourself with open discovery of the world around you, embracing rich and living moments.”
“Illuminate,” whispered the beacon. “Illuminate a love for life that remembers it’s obligations to time, that is linked to our pasts, the present and what lies ahead.”
“Guide us,” called the light, “Guide us towards a life of renewal – resisting pressures of a “corporate mind.” Guide us towards a mindful world where our days are made up of many little miracles, like the sound ofbirds in the early morning sun.”
“Believe,” echoed the light. “Believe that each of us can feel home in the world, can wonder every day, and can create our own ways of knowing about life. Believe in our innate connections to the earth, in our individual ties to place, to memory and to the world as a whole. “
The light stopped speaking, but continued to reflect across the water.
In the darkness of the night, in a far away place, a small boy saw the glimmer of light in the distance.
His journey began.
An inquiry into lighthouses We began our inquiry by looking at maps and photos of lighthouses around the world. In the past week, we have listened to a CD of “lighthouse sounds” while we sketched images and wrote words, sentences or poems that came to our minds. We took tours of lighthouses on the internet, and we even managed to find a site that shows a live webcam of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, so you can see what’s happening there all day long. We have had it on the SMARTboard every day, all day, and many of the children have been watching it at night at home too. Last week, I led them through a guided meditation where they visited a lighthouse in their minds. We’ve read stories about lighthouses, some fictional and others non-fiction. We also read stories about hurricanes and storms that destroyed ships and even lives. Many of the children had questions about light keepers and became very curious about this role, which we researched together. Last week, we learned that the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse is 15m tall, which seemed like a very abstract measurement to the children, so we went outside and measured a 15m lighthouse on the grass using meter sticks. It turned out to be a wonderful chance to develop some estimation skills in the sunshine. This math led into a rich discussion around the sizes and shapes of lighthouses (one child thought that if the lighthouse is 15m tall it must be 15m wide and another student suggested that that would make it a square lighthouse, which led into a lovely discussion around shapes). After, the children played in our pretend lighthouse on the grass, imagining they were lighthouse keepers saving sailors from storms on the ocean. Yesterday, the children decided to construct a big lighthouse in our classroom, which has created many problem solving based conversations about 3D shapes, good building materials, making democratic decisions around who will do what, etc. I think that next week we will begin the important work of discussing the uncertain future of the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse. I can already see the passion in their eyes about this lighthouse, so I can only imagine their reaction to the possibility of this lighthouse being demolished and where this discussion will lead. Its been a lovely inquiry so far!
Our Grade 2 Wonders..
Today we talked about our most important wonders, wrote some in our sketchbook and each child shared one of their wonders aloud.
I wrote them down on chart paper and we decided our list looked like a poem, so we typed it up as a poem and it’s now posted on our classroom door to inspire others to wonder more.
This idea was inspired by a wonderful book that all early elementary teachers should read, called, “A Place For Wonder.”
Carving Soapstone with Children
As part of our exploration of the arctic, my grade 2 class and I carved soapstone. It was a wonderful experience.
The children chose one piece of soapstone that “spoke to them” and we sat in a circle and talked about our stones. I explained that it had come from the arctic and encouraged them to wonder about where in the arctic their piece of soapstone was found. What happened on your piece? The children imagined the arctic and came up with marvelous ideas about where their soapstone piece came from. One boy decided that his came from the side of a polar bear’s den in the arctic, and that perhaps the red markings on his stone was a blood stain from a polar bear battle. Another child thought her soapstone had been the sleeping grounds of a dinosaur millions of years ago. In our sketchbooks, we told the stories of our rocks.
That afternoon, we took our stones and began our carving project. I encouraged the children to carve their stone and change it into a treasure rock, focusing more on the process than on the product.
The process was relatively simple. First, we sanded our soapstones using coarse sand paper and files. Then, we used wet sand paper and water to smooth our rocks. After, we cooked them in a small toaster oven for 5 minutes at 250 degrees. Finally, we buffed our soapstone pieces with minwax so that they would shine.
At the end of our day, the children each have a special piece of the arctic that they can take home and treasure forever.
Definitely a worthwhile project!
go get to know
as well as you can.
It should be something small.
with a mountain.
with the pacific ocean.
one seed pod
one dry weed
one horned toad
or one handful
- Excerpt from “The Other Way to Listen”
Using Light and Colour to make the Northern Lights In our Grade 2 Classroom
As part of our exploration of the arctic, the children became fascinated by the northern lights after seeing them in a documentary we watched.
We watched more videos of these lights, looked at photos and did many artistic representations of northern lights, but I really wanted the children to experience them first hand…
With that idea in mind, I posed the question, “Can we make the northern lights appear in our classroom?” With that provocation, the ideas came rushing in. Many children remembered using an overhead projector in kindergarten to make a rainbow on the ceiling. They thought that by using bowls of water and food colouring in the water, we might be able to make dancing lights on the ceiling, like the aurora borealis.
The following day, I brought in many materials: flashlights, prisms, 3 overhead projectors, a variety of glass and plastic containers, water, food colouring, coloured cellophane, coloured lights, overhead sheets and markers.
We turned the lights off, closed the curtains and played for a solid hour and a half. I was amazed at how the reflections and light the children created resembled the northern lights so well.
It was a wonderful investigation that the children were very invested in. Definitely one of my favourite class explorations yet!
In my grade 2 class we studied Nova Scotia in social studies, as an introduction to the Acadian people of Canada. As part of our study, we looked at lighthouses and their importance to the fishermen. We looked at many lighthouses and asked lots of questions about them. We looked at many photos from various perspectives of Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, and then we did an art project with watercolours and acrylic paint showing Peggy’s Cove. We also wrote lighthouse facts and poems about lighthouses.
I went to a workshop a while ago on visual journaling. They talked about the importance of letting children play in their sketch books and letting them paint and have fun in them. After attending the workshop we had an afternoon of playing with paints and pastels in our sketchbooks in my class. The children had so much fun and really embraced the freedom to create.
I think that time to play is hugely important for children. Children don’t always need to be “taught” something in order to learn. Whenever we give children the freedom to explore, they learn a great deal, possibly more than we could teach them in a “structured” activity. Any time I give my class time to play or explore something without restrictions they amaze me with their creative minds.
Inuit Inuksuks: A Grade 2 Exploration
In our class we studied the different types of inuksuks and sketched them in our sketch journals.
After learning about them, all I told the children was to make an inuksuk, and here are a few of the representations they created. I love how each child showed their inuksuk in a very unique way.
Giving the children freedom to create in this activity reminded me of a Loris Malaguzzi quote..
“The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences. We must widen the range of topics and goals, the types of situations we offer and their degree of structure, the kinds and combinations of resources and materials, and the possible interactions with things, peers, and adults.”