Nature is full of learning opportunities both indoors and outdoors! 🙂 We read some plant books to become familiar with seeds to sprouts to plants. I then set up some provocations to see if further interest would emerge. Using a familiar flower as a plant example is a great base of knowledge to work off of and build onto. We planted sweet peas indoors, so I was happy our book showed a picture of how they look when they bloom.
With provocations the purpose is not for the child to do exactly what I want them to do. The purpose is for the child to be curious enough to explore, question and create based on what inspires them. The inspiration could come from the provocation in front of them or the provocation could spark a memory of an idea or experience. So I do not interfere with the creative process young children’s minds need before they begin a project either small, large or long. As they move through the project I can step in to support their inquiries and need for further explanations or materials.
Our sweet peas finally grew! Having a real life example to go with any pictures we have is always a great way to reach young concrete minds and build understanding. When children are allowed to plant and take care of the growing seeds that sprout they learn so much more than what we tell them or read to them about. Making sure to plan experiences to go along with any type of curriculum support is the most effective way for young minds to form understanding and continue to build onto the knowledge they’ve gained. It doesn’t matter what amount or level of learning has taken place because the more experiences provided and allowed to happen will enable all children to learn things they did not know before.
We collected some plant materials to create pictures on paper! You never know what picture will emerge from the various plant materials found all around us. These are not forever creations, so I like to take pictures so they can become a forever picture. Sometimes if the quality of the picture is good enough the pictures can be printed and used for future provocations in different content areas. Math, science, art and literacy can all be brought to light through natural pictures. Give it a try and see what happens! And don’t forget the dialogue either you hear between the children or you engage in with them is a huge part of the learning process. Questioning, discussing, thinking out loud are all ways to communicate with young minds and for them to do the same. Through conversation we learn so much of what children understand and what we as adults can do to support the learning journey. As a Teacher I have always opened my eyes and ears to learning from my students. The give and take process of education keeps all of our minds active and ready for new knowledge.
Learning is fluid and a part of being human. Learning is not contained in a box. Life is learning, so grasp each day and take the time to watch, listen and respect the young children in your life. Children are like flowers in the sense that they grow and change. Let’s work together to make sure their early years are full of learning opportunities that emerge and are planned through play! 🙂
Heidi Scott, BA & MIT
The Marigold School of Early Learning