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The Wheels on the Bus (A Learning Story)

When you think about what a learning environment looks like the inside of a city bus is not likely to immediately pop into your mind. However, because children are so intrinsically motivated to learn any space can hold thousands of new discoveries. Today I took the time to slow down and really observe all of the learning that takes place on what, to most people, would appear the most mediocre part of our excursions.

Recognizing Numbers
Before we board the bus we have to figure out which one is the right one! We all take some time to look at the number of the bus we are waiting for on the map, then we identify it together when the buses arrive at the stop (4.5 Representing Numbers, ELECT).
Following Directions
The children at Red River ELC have had lots of practice boarding the bus because it is one of our main means of transportation for field trips. They are able to understand and follow oral directions (3.6 Listening to Others, ELECT), with a few reminders, and do a great job finding a …
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How Does Learning Happen on a Rainy Day?

We love to explore outside in all sorts of weather; today we went for a walk to find puddles to splash in. Water is such a huge interest for the children and they are always deeply engaged in their explorations.

“Engagement” refers to a state of being genuinely involved and interested in what one is doing. Optimal conditions for learning occur when we are fully engaged. For children, this happens in play that evolves from the child’s natural curiosity – active play that allows children to explore with their bodies, minds, and senses, stimulating them to ask questions, test theories, solve problems, engage in creative thinking, and make meaning of the world around them.

- How Does Learning Happen

The children followed water flowing down the hill and wondered why it was moving that way. They put leaves and sticks in the water to watch it flow.

They jumped in the puddles and predicted that if they jumped higher or stomped their feet harder they could make bigger splashes, then they tested …

Muddy Math

Water play is a huge, ongoing interest at Red River ELC. The children love to mix soil and water to create mud, they splash, and spend time filling and emptying containers.

Setting up the outdoor space to "... provide environments and experiences to engage children in active, creative, and meaningful exploration, play, and inquiry" (How Does Learning Happen) allows so many opportunities for the children to make discoveries.

Mathematical and scientific concepts are plentiful in water play;
physics (flow, motion), chemistry (solutions, cohesion),biology (plant and animal life), and mathematics (measurement, equivalence, volume).

It is so amazing to watch these little people learning about their world.

Learning doesn't require a worksheet. As early childhood professional  Bev Bos said, "If it hasn't been in the hand and body it can't be in the brain."

Discovering a Moth

Today while the children were playing outside I discovered a moth on the step. It seemed very still so I nudged it with a stick, it didn't react at all, it was clear that the creature was no longer alive. I thought for a  moment about brushing the creature under the steps to spare the children being exposed to such a difficult topic, but after some thought I decided that taking time to respectfully observe the creature would be beneficial.

"Would you guys like to see something cool?" I called.
D (the eldest) was eager to help me pick up the moth and put him on a leaf. (1.9 Interacting with Adults - ELECT page 45)

"I think he's alive, I think I see him moving," D said. I explained that he looked like he was moving because his leg was stuck to the leaf which was moved, but he wasn't alive any more; we could look at him as long as we were respectful because at one time he was a living creature.

C talked a little bit about her understanding of death as we l…

Messy Play

It began by adding water to the dirt we had been exploring on the deck, joyfully dumping and laughing and splashing. Then K noticed how interesting the mud felt on her hands and began to spread it on her toes and feet.

As an educator I have had to learn to take a step back and allow children to fully explore their ideas, offering scaffolding and support where needed. Messy play is wonderful and necessary for learning, but it is one of the tougher types of play for educators to accept because it is ... well ... incredibly messy! However, she was fully engaged in her play, in her learning, and I was not going to interrupt her focus.
"Engagement suggests a state of being involved and focused. When children are able to explore the world around them with their natural curiosity and exuberance, they are fully engaged. Through this type of play and inquiry, they develop skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, and innovating, which are essential for learning and success in sch…

Wildlings in the Water

When the weather warms the Monarch Woods begin to beckon to the children and I; the moment enough snow has melted from the path into the forest to make it an easy trek for little feet we return to our favorite play space.

Today was a beautiful day for a forest trip

The children spent lots of time discovering new ways to make big splashes. Splashing may look like child's play, but it is an exploration in physics! Young children learn with all of their senses and through experimentation (5.3 Sense, ELECT page 42) so this was the perfect opportunity to see water displacement in action.

Even baby A explored splashing, tossing small stones in to the water. He was excited to see the way the water moved when the stone hit the surface (4.3 Cause-and-Effect 
Exploration, ELECT page 39)

I wonder ...
Should we try dropping items that weigh different amounts in to the water to see what would happen?If we jump in the water do we all make the same sized splash?Would the children like to explore wh…

Raising painted lady butterflies

In the early spring we had the opportunity to raise painted lady butterflies from caterpillars. The children were so excited to see the caterpillars when they arrived at our little school, we counted them together (4.12 Counting - ELECT page 55).

We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar together and other books about how caterpillars grow and change in to butterflies (3.7 Enjoying Literacy - ELECT page 49) Their lifecycle is very interesting! We learned new vocabulary words like metamorphosis and chrysalis.

The children shared their own knowledge about butterflies. (3.5 Using Descriptive Language to Explain, Explore and Extend - ELECT page 49)

Even our littlest students were interested in the butterflies and were very careful with them (4.1 Self-regulation Attention Regulation - ELECT page 39)

It was so exciting when our butterflies emerged from their chrysalis!
Opportunities and Possibilities I love how interested you guys are in insects! I will continue to scaffolding that learning by pr…