Monday, December 25, 2017

Edible Inquiries Matching Class Questions

The last week of classes in 2017 (and any year, to be honest) goes by in a blur. We have our Winter Concert rehearsals, which are much needed for a smooth and successful community event of this sort, but also chaotic for those who need routine and schedules.

My choice of media activity for the last week of school for the kindergarten students may have also contributed to the hubbub, but I'm still pleased with the process and the product. (The primary division students created success criteria for improving their ChatterPix creations and the junior/intermediates finished their "What does it mean to go viral?" collaborative investigations.)

One of the reasons I'm so pleased with the kindergarten lessons was that I find it challenging to time my tasks with their classroom-specific inquiries. Usually, by the time I've discovered what "big fat juicy question" or theme they're exploring, they are moving on to another topic. It can also be time-consuming, as a prep coverage teacher responsible for many groups, to develop lessons that can only be used for a single class. However, the stars aligned well and not only was I able to tailor the experience to the specific class inquiry, it was delicious as well!

Room K1 - Gingerbread People

I've gushed at length about the talented Early Childhood Educators at my school. Jen Balido-Cadavez is still metaphorically hitting home runs with her students. She and I communicate via Twitter DM and at the beginning of the month, she sent me this note.

It was thanks to her that I had advanced knowledge of their gingerbread theme. Later in the DM, she connects it to our already-existing, term-long kindie media and library inquiry question about things we love and hate. I also really like how we took equity into consideration and had challenging conversations with the students about gender - why is it almost always called a "gingerbread man"?

We read traditional and alternative picture books featuring gingerbread people. We compared text similarities and differences. We baked and decorated sugar cookie people and the students had a good time. We were so busy that I didn't take many photos. I tweeted the one that didn't need faces obscured.

Room 110 - Poo

Ms. Chiu and I had an entertaining discussion about what food connection I could possibly make to her recent inquiry, on poo. I just could not bring myself to make food that looked like human excrement. Thankfully, we came up with a satisfactory compromise that still honoured the students' learning. During library, we used the TDSB online databases (especially Pebble Go) to read about worms and dirt. We discovered that soil is made up of worm poo and other things. I was so pleased that during book exchange, some of Ms. Chiu's kindergarteners chose to continue reading the articles on soil instead of playing. During our last class of 2017, the kindergarteners of Room 110 and I made "worms and dirt dessert". We made instant chocolate pudding and added items that represented dirt composition - top soil (crumbled cookie crumbs), rocks (candy-covered chocolate) and (gummy) worms.

Mixing the powder and milk

Chocolate pudding, the base of our food art

What's in your soil?

Students were involved in every step of making

Finished masterpieces!

A top view

Does it look yummy?

Room K2 - Sharks

Inquiry questions don't always match a particular time of year. Mr. Tong's class was focused on sharks. I'm glad I heard about their theme when I did. I was able to show them how and where to find information books on sharks and read a few during library time. It also gave us a chance to look at (albeit briefly) the media representations of sharks. We learned through our reading that although sharks are efficient hunters, they themselves are hunted and hurt too, by nets, pollution, and human interference. Mrs. Isidro, the ECE, and I thought hard about how to make our food connection doable in our time allotted, with maximum student involvement. (We'd seen "sharks in blue Jello" dishes, but it would take a long time to set and the students wouldn't be as active.) We used acetate bases and applied frosting, which the students coloured themselves with blue food dye, to create an ocean scene. Everyone had four gummy sharks to use in their picture. Students could choose to put Goldfish, "rocks", "dirt" (leftover supplies from Ms. Chiu's class), and other items in their pictures. We even added some nets using makerspace items. The results were all unique. Some even made theirs 3D!

It was a bit of an expensive lesson (because I bought all of the consumables) but I really liked how all the students were actively involved, making their edible art and making connections to what they had learned in class. It also was a reprieve from the holiday-focused activities - not that there's anything wrong with that, (as Doug Peterson's blog post on holiday sing-a-longs can attest) but it's a bit more inclusive and centered on learning. Having said that, this blog goes public on December 25, 2017 - Merry Christmas to everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I also love how each of these activities was focused on the interests of the children in that class, and created in connection with the educators in the room. This shows that prep coverage can extend classroom programming.

    I also must say that I’m intrigued by the inquiry on poop. I know lots of K’s interested in this topic, but have never heard of an educator team extending this interest. Would be curious to know where this is going in the classroom. I love your connection to worms and soil. We’ve also made this connection before.

    Merry Christmas, and thanks for a wonderful holiday post!