Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"Let's Try Marbles!" - Exploring the Movement of Lazy Susans

The children found a few Lazy Susans in the classroom and were interested in the movement that they could create.  Elias suggested that we use marbles on the Lazy Susan.  We then asked the question - 

"How Will The Marble Stay on The Lazy Susan?"

The children explored the idea for a day to see what they could do to keep the marbles on the board.  They quickly came to the idea - 

"We need a railing!" 

We chose to use Citi Blocks as our railing to stop the marble from falling off the Lazy Susan.  Together, they lined up the blocks in different ways to find the best solution to our problem. Their different ideas included, a railing that was two deep, a railing that was standing up tall, and a single railing that was flat.  

All of those experiments still allowed the marble to fall off the board.  We then tried to develop new ideas together. 

Testing our Theories.....

Our next ideas included making squares to "trap" the marble and then explored the thinking of making a "track" to have the marble follow on.  Again, we tested out our theories to see if they would work.  The children worked together to build these ideas and discussed the ideas of what they wanted it to look like.

Both of these ideas still led the marble off the board and rolling on the floor. 

After a while of exploring and experimenting, the children began to represent their experiences with the marble and the Lazy Susan.  Many of the children drew circles and lines to represent their ideas of movement and circular motion.  

Emmett: "The marble moved fast off the circle.  We can't make it stay."

Colton: "I drew the blocks to block the marble.  It was on, then it went off." 

Gabe said, 

"I can make a trap for the marble." 

He decided to use the basket and the kitchen sink to trap the marble.  Spinning it as hard as he could - The marble stayed in place and didn't fall off the Lazy Susan.

On another day, Francisco and Abe explored the same idea with the same materials.  They had similiar ideas from the other group of children. 

Then they decided with Baha'a that if they piled all the blocks on top of the marble, it wouldn't be able to move or move off the board. 

"Look, it's stuck.  It's not moving!"

Francisco seemed very excited by the outcome of their decision together.  He spun the Lazy Susan around and around with only a few blocks falling off - However, the marble stayed in place. 

At Meeting Time, as a whole group - we discussed what we know about marbles to help us figure out how to solve our problem of the marble falling off.  The children decided that we need something "Sticky" to help keep the "Railing" in place so that the marble can move on the Lazy Susan. 


"We need something sticky.  Tape is sticky.  Glue is sticky. Jelly is sticky."

Working together the children used tape to stick the blocks on the Lazy Susan.  When we arranged all the blocks where we wanted them, we tested it out.  The children discovered that the tape was not sticky enough and kept on falling off the Lazy Susan with the blocks. Then the marble would fall off.  

"I think these sponges will work!"
The children taped sponges on their board, along with the Citi Blocks to protect the marble from falling off the Lazy Susan. The sponges were falling off too. However, the sponges made the marble bounce away in a different direction.  This interested the children as well.

Throughout this last experiment the children also brought up the word, MAZE.  We began to discuss what a maze was and how we could create one on the Lazy Susan to help make the marble move and keep it on the board.  

Next week we will explore what a maze is and how it works.  The children will observe and identify different mazes - thinking about how we could make it work for our problem. 

Together, the children were working on their communication skills,  problem solving skills, and figuring out the ideas of cause and effect through their different experiments during this week. 

Introducing Movement in a Different Way - While Using Watercolors

The children continue to develop thinking for watercolor painting and have been strengthening their skills of representation with these tools.  We have continued to discuss different brush strokes and how it affects our paintings.  Together we decided to add a different element to our investigation.  Bringing the opportunity of a new movement - Having the paper move instead of the paint brush itself. To help develop this idea, we used a Large Rolling Easel and a few Lazy Susans to move the paper with ease to see how our representations changed. 

Reem explored both movements on the Large Rolling Easel and the Lazy Susans. She discovered that it is challenging to paint when the paper is moving.  During both situations, she would try and stop the paper so she could finish her work.  When we used the Lazy Susans, Reem painted her own work, but discretely explored the movement on the larger Lazy Susan to see the effects.  

Together Reem and Jenna worked on separate areas while talking about the different lines that were being made.  The lines seemed to be the focus of representations while using the Large Rolling Easel. 

When looking at the process of the two experiences, it's interesting to see the different movements and designs made by the movement.  The children noticed that they both go in circular motion, but look differently when examining it.  

Antonija explored the movement of the easel before beginning to paint.  She discovered that she has to put a lot of pressure on the wheel to make it move.  When she moved it while painting (middle picture) you could see her excitement and interest in what was happening. 

The children didn't discuss much at first - their focus seemed to be on the movement and the designs from their actions.  They did do a lot of observations of each other and discussed their creations toward the end.  

"The paint is going around in a circle.  I can make it stop and go."

"I want it to stop so that I can paint.  It's hard to paint when the paper is moving a lot."

"Look, it's easy.  I don't have to move my brush."

"It's moving so fast! I can make it move even faster."

Throughout both of these investigations, the children recognized the movement of their actions and how this different experience affected their paintings.

Together, they were strengthening their ideas of representation, enhancing their thinking of movement and spatial awareness, and continuing their skills of fine motor.  These are goals that have been ongoing throughout these investigations.  

As the semester goes on, we will use these skills to represent a specific idea or object.  The children are becoming more confident in using watercolor paints to get their ideas across. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Discussing Our Watercolor Paintings

The children's interest in watercolor painting continues to be evident in the classroom as we explore these materials several times throughout the weeks.  Since January, we have had dozens of paintings that we sorted through to develop an idea of what the children are doing and learning through this process of painting.  With this focus group, I chose three paintings from each child and displayed them in order of when they were painted to see the sequence of learning throughout this experience. 

The children took the time to discuss each other's paintings and tried to figure out what types of movements the other children used to complete their paintings. They talked about the markings, the colors, and the amount of space they used on the paper. 

As we were discussing the paintings, the children drew their own representations of what the paintings looked like or what it reminded them of. We used half sheets of paper and sharpie markers so that the colors were similar to the watercolor paintings. 

Some of the children talked to their classmates about their own paintings and how they decided to paint. Reem explained to the others that she connected her colors to work on covering the whole page. 

Together in small groups, the children continued to draw and discuss the different techniques of painting. They developed a sense of community and ownership of the class paintings and the process that we have been learning. 

As the discussions wrapped up, we agreed on a word that described each set of three paintings. The children sounded out the words and wrote them out together to display with the paintings. 

After we finished our discussions and wrote our describing words, we displayed them in the hall to share with the program. Some of the words that the children used describe the paintings included 
slow, fast, super fast, colorful, and lines. 

Throughout this process of discussing of our paintings, the children were strengthening their communication and description skills, enhancing literacy skills, and developing ideas of movement and spatial awareness. 

To continue our explorations of painting with Watercolors, we will explore different ways to use brush strokes to show movement and change. We will also strengthen our process of watercolor painting to develop stronger representational skills.