Sunday, 23 February 2014

"One of the hermit crabs changed shells!"

With the event of the ice storm causing power outages across the GTA, our beloved hermit crabs: Crusty, Shelley, and Crabby passed away.  We discussed with the students the impact that the lack of heat had on the hermit crabs, and through their previous observations and research, understood that if the temperature in the terrarium went below 80 degrees, they could not survive.  This event allowed the students to gain further knowledge in the importance of making sure that the terrarium reflects the hermit crabs' natural habitat for survival.

Our terrarium remained empty for a while and we were quite sad.  But then, one day, we were given three new hermit crabs!  The students cheered with excitement and huddled around the terrarium to see their new friends!  

The students decided they needed names.  They rushed to make their own surveys, and asked their peers to pick which names they liked for the new hermit crabs.  Once the surveys were complete, we came together and jotted down all the name choices and voted again for our top three names.  The names chosen were: Ocean, Star, and Dottie!  Once again, the students wanted to place coloured dots on their shell in order to identify each of the hermit crabs. 

Surprisingly, the students then observed an unexpected special moment, "One of the hermit crabs changed shells!" A.M.  

"It got out of the striped shell and into the dotted one!" B.S.

Wow!  Why did that happen? Mrs. Ralph

"I think that shell was too small and he wanted a bigger one!" D.S.

"Maybe he didn't like it?" C.D.

The students continued to observe, think, and wonder about the hermit crabs.  To support their knowledge and questions, we had group discussions, looked in some of the non fiction books, and used various art mediums (e.g. drawing, writing, and creating using different materials) to further their learning.

 Hermit crab terrarium (side view) E.H. and N.S.

 Hermit crab terrarium (top view) E.H. and N.S.

Looking at our Hermit Crab Inquiry Binder 

One day at lunch, Ms. Powell and the students noticed something in the terrarium.  

We removed the object and placed it under a magnifying glass.  We were all puzzled!  

We placed the object and magnifying glass on the light table to get a better look.  The students had lots of questions and theories.  Paper and sketch pens were placed at the light table to support their observations, thoughts, or wonders.

What observations, explorations, and investigations will follow?  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I wonder what’s inside? The beginning of our Beautiful Stuff Project!

The students were given the task of working with their family in locating objects that they thought were beautiful in their local environment. The materials could not be bought, but rather found at home or on a walk.  Each student was given a brown paper bag in which to place their “beautiful stuff”. As each bag was returned to class, the anticipation of what was inside was growing among the students! Finally the day arrived when the grand spill was going to take place.  Before we started, Mrs. Ralph asked the students:

“What makes something beautiful?”

“You can make something out of it.” G.M.

“It’s shiny.” A.P.

“String because you can make smiley faces with it.” E.S.

“If it’s shiny and you can make stuff with it.” A.M.

“It’s sparkly.” P.I.

“You can make flowers with stuff.” N.S.

“You can make your family out of it.” C.D.

“When you find something shiny.” A.T.

“What now?  What can we do with our beautiful mess?” Mrs. Ralph

The students had many great answers!

They thought that we had so much beautiful stuff in one pile, we couldn’t find anything! 

“Let’s sort it!” E.S.

“How can we do this?” Mrs. Ralph

“We can look through it and put things into small groups that are the same.” A.M.

Over the next few days, the students worked in small groups and started creating categories for things that were similar.

We also started reading many wonderful books about using our imagination and creating things using found materials.

Here are a few of the first creations made.  More to come!

Stay tuned as many more creations are made using our beautiful stuff!

The Rationale of the Project

“To a young child, the world is full of materials to touch, discover, and explore. To find, collect, sort, and use materials is to embark on a special kind of adventure.”
From the introduction to: "Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials" by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini

Creating a collection of Beautiful Stuff will allow the children to think about the materials around them more deeply, and all of the ways that materials can be used to create and to express ideas and knowledge. Children will collaborate, share, sort, experiment, build, think, write, draw, paint, and invent, all through using the materials that we gather together and share with one another.