Our exploration started with the big tree in our play yard. One day, during our outdoor play, the children noticed how big our tree was. We took some photos of the tree and talked about it during circle time. By the next class, the tree was covered in snow. We took the children outside to take a closer look at the tree asking, “How does the tree look now?” We wondered how the snow might change the way the children were thinking.
During circle we discussed the pictures of the trees with and without snow. “I know what the problem is! It’s snow.” (Amelia) Some children mentioned the animals and birds. We noticed some of the children showing so much compassion for the birds and what they would eat with all the snow on the tree. How would we solve this problem? We asked the question, “What can we do to help the birds?” Some children mentioned giving them food such as: “cookies, donuts, grapes, nuts, seeds.” At this point, we were a bit surprised as we had imagined decorating the tree but the children were more interested in the animals that might frequent the tree.
How might we extend and stretch the children’s curiosity and learning experience? We took the children for bird watching walk around the park. We saw many birds on the ground, on a tree, and also flying.
“I see a white bird.”
“I see a black bird.” The children were very excited especially when we saw a nest way up high on a tree. Then we asked the children, “Why do birds need a nest? What do they do in the nest?”
The next class, we set up a table with sticks, hay, and other natural materials along with books on birds; allowing the children to explore and manipulate. We observed what the children would do with them. Nathan was the first to explore, “I’m making a house for animals.” He opened a book and started showing one teacher different kinds of birds and enthusiastically pointing to one bird, “I like yellow bird.” “Birds need warm nest.” This interested us and we wanted to see if by adding other materials, how would the children expand on this idea.
On another table, to extend their play, we laid out Cheerios and pipe cleaners. What will they do? Some children made bird feeders and one child took his finished feeder and brought it over to the nest and fed the puppet birds he took from the kitchen area. Through pretend play, children learn to problem solve, cooperate, develop complex social and critical thinking skill. This is a great example of that!
After the children made the feeders, we asked the question, “What should we do with it?” Some children suggested hanging them on our tree outside. Aikam asked, “How can we hang them?” This was a great question because it allowed all children to work together to come up with their own solution. They came up with ideas such as:
“We can get a ladder.”(Ethan, Irene)
“We need a firefighter.”(Josh)
“We can jump!” (Tracy)
But in the end, the class all decided we will use a ladder. We went outside with a step ladder and some ribbons. The children helped to string the feeders on the ribbon which we attached to the tree branch.
It’s amazing to see how the children’s interest in our tree turns into a beautiful story of helping and generosity. We are continually being inspired through their discoveries.
Carmen and Sunhee