Sunflower or False Daisy?

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When I first looked at this oil pastel I thought, “hmm…sunflower!”  Then I thought some more, “no, false daisy!”  

When I asked the little boy who drew this picture he did not know the type of flower because drawing a specific variety was not on his mind as he created this lovely and vibrant color explosion.

I personally think the leaves look more like arms reaching out with little marshmallow muscles. 🙂

What variety of flower do you think this could be?  Share you thoughts! 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Math and Science through Plant Exploration

Math and science are aspects of early childhood education that can be learned through plants.  Columbine and spider wart are two plants that have unique petals and leaves; each plant allows for children to learn about how a plant grows and incorporates numbers and patterns.

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There are a couple of ways I will mention that a provocation for math and science can be set up for children to question, explore and learn from.  First I like to set up a potted plant or fresh cut flowers so that the children can admire the plant and incorporate both art and literacy by drawing a picture of each and writing a story about them based on any inspirational ideas that come forward by admiring the plant or flowers (I act as  their scribe).  Math comes in to play when the children can, in essence, dissect the plant visually and artistically; drawing the leaves, the vanes, and the petals.  As their scribe, I can dialogue with the children and model how to write/draw numbers for each part of the plant they have illustrated.  For science, we can explore the role and purpose of soil, the nutrients it contains, and the rain and sunshine’s impact on the plants.  So as you can see we actually are encompassing not simply math and science, we are including art and literacy; four content areas are being explored and utilized in a natural and holistic way of teaching and learning.   No worksheets or artificial methods are being used to teach something that is freely available in all of nature.

 

Heidi's School Pics 061     California poppy is another commonly grown flower that can easily be used to teach math and science.  I enjoy taking pictures, but I love planting with children and allowing them to be responsible for the care and maintenance of a plant or flower.  As each child watches a seed transform we learn how the sun, rain, and soil cause a seed to grow.  I introduce actual scientific terminology and age-appropriate reading with illustrations to support the children’s learning.  Of course, if we are exploring plants and how they grow it is because the children have shown and communicated a strong interest.  When children have internal interest their attention spans are quite long and a simple question turns into a month or more long project. 🙂  I do not introduce complicated vocabulary for the children to memorize or know off hand, rather I introduce the terms as a way of building a foundation for further information to be added as the child gains his/ her understanding of how plants grow and thrive.

There are many different provocations and projects that can be explored through the use of nature and I enjoy seeing each child come to his/ her own understanding through inquiry, exploration, manipulation, and implementation.  Either individually or as a collaborative effort young minds construct knowledge, and as the Teacher, I am a facilitator and support to their ever constant and changing development of knowledge.

You as Parents or Grandparents are a constant source of knowledge and support for your young child and together we work as a team preparing young minds for their future educational careers. 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning

Reggio Inspired Provocations with Flowers

As a Teacher I know there are countless ways in which to implement lessons, set up provocations, encourage interests for young children, so I thought I would show some ways in which I like to set up a simple provocation. Initial set up is aesthetically pleasing to me, the adult, but I never know for sure if a provocation will be a success unless I see young people not just look at it, but actually engage.

What you see below is a clean, neat simple display for a provocation.  However, when young children’s interests are peaked and curiosity is too great, then we end up with the process, which is messy, fun, and full of insight into how a young mind acquires knowledge through environmental engagement.

If you’ve set up similar or even vastly different, yet simple provocations please share your wonderful ideas and outcomes!  I would love to read about your teaching experiences using inspiration from the Reggio Emilia Approach.

Heidi's School Pics 032  For this example of a provocation I used oil pastels and pencils for tools.

Heidi's School Pics 027  For the second example of a provocation I set out crayons and pencils.

A third idea I had is to use the mini art easels I see in the craft stores and set up a picture on each side.  Pictures area great provocations as well.

Be ready to stand in as a scribe and write word for word what your young students or children dictate to you.  A child’s own words can be a catalyst for continued  and internal interest to learn how to write and read.  Early Literacy has many layers to the strong foundation, so let’s take advantage when we can to keep building onto each layer.

Heidi's School Pics 014  You may not be able to see, but I managed to capture one or two bees on my flowers!  This would work for a provocation not simply because of the flowers, but because of the bees.  So many exciting inspirational ideas, stories and massively creative artwork can come from a simple picture! 🙂

I find that so many ideas for lessons, provocations, projects and collaborations come from watching, listening and engaging in meaningful conversation with young children.  Do you find that to be the case as well?  Please post your comments and let me know. 🙂

Heidi, The Marigold School of Early Learning