Wonder Journal

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A few months ago when I decided to be more intentional about following H’s lead in terms of the learning we did , I started keeping a list of questions she would ask me on my phone. I also made brief notes about her areas of interest.

The original plan was to create a journal where we could start documenting her questions and thoughts. I thought of calling this a Wonder Journal, where she could essentially record things she wondered about.

We finally created the journal. It was a very simple one made out of white paper stapled together with a sheet of black construction paper. I cut out a question mark and glued a painting to the back of it that she had done with watercolour earlier that day.

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The purpose of the journal is threefold:

  1. To keep track of her learning in an inclusive format (one that is accessible to her)
  2. To encourage her to start documenting (whether through pictures or words) to promote literacy
  3. To set up the habit of reflection

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From this page, I can see that H’s thinking is becoming more complex as she notices more details. A month ago, when she drew a picture of herself, she would not have intentionally chosen colours to reflect details such as eye and hair colour. She also was not attempting to colour things in. While it just looks like scribbles right now (and actually messier than the picture below from one month ago), I can see that H tried to colour in her pants (the red) and her dress/shirt (the blue) and chose to use brown marker to more accurately reflect her eye and hair colour.

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This drawing is from one month ago (I drew the balloons). 

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H’s question today was about how computers work. I asked her to draw a picture of a computer. She asked for help and I prompted her to think about the shape of a computer. She was picturing her father’s computer and excitedly replied, “A rectangle!” I asked her what else she knew about computers and she went onto add that “It has lots of buttons.” I encouraged her to draw what it looked like. If she shows a sustained interest in computers/technical knowledge/wanting to understand how things work, this will become a topic that we delve into deeper.

While this is a very simple practice and H does not yet have the capacity to dive in deeply or independently, I hope that by occasionally doing this now, it will come more naturally to her as she gets older. Children starting in kindergarten can do this pretty effectively, so if you have a child in grade school, this might be worth a try. It’s always fascinating to take a peek inside of your child’s mind!

 

I Like Pumpkins- Post #7: Reflections

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When I decided to do some focused work around pumpkins this year, I knew there was a danger of traditional thematic learning hijacking best practices around early learning. While I know the experiences and activities were valuable, I had a nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me the approach wasn’t right – it wasn’t responsive, nor was it guided by H’s big questions.

I thought about developmental domains that were underrepresented and activity ideas that could enhance them, like content surrounding growth and gardening, additional sensory experiences like making and playing with pumpkin spice playdough, tangibly exploring different types of pumpkins and cooking and eating more pumpkin-based dishes. I also became acutely aware of the lack of opportunity to engage with art. But again, these ideas were coming from me and not necessarily respecting H’s interests.

Not only does this go against the vision I have for myself as an educator, but it also feels uncomfortable – I just spent the entire summer planning environments emergently (something I will share in future posts). And here I was planning and implementing around a theme. Sigh.

Moving forward, I want to dig deeper. Having meetings is a good place to start. What this entails is meeting with the children and determining their interests, what they want to learn about, their existing knowledge about the topic and what skills they need to develop. Then webbing and altering those webs so that they are responsive as time progresses.

I have a few more posts to draft and publish about activities we’ve done recently, but moving forward, a lot of my time is being spent on observing and planning.

I look forward to sharing the process with you!