Friday, June 24, 2011

Mud Balls

I read somewhere recently that it was going to be “mud day”.  There are many celebrations of mud day that happen all around the world, but there doesn’t seem to be one date that they have in common. 

When you work with young children, really any day can become mud day.  Children are simply fascinated by the creation of mud from dry dirt, the textures, the various consistencies and the sticking properties!  What amazing science they are learning through their play!

Recently my students learned some of the social aspects as well, when they started throwing globs of mud at each other.  They loved the throwing of their “mud ball”, but didn’t enjoy being hit with them. 

Now a first inclination would be to stop all throwing of the mud.  However, I am always challenging myself to find a way to say, “yes” to the children’s ideas.  So, I asked the children what we did when we wanted to throw snowballs in the winter, and they remembered the bull eye’s we drew on the shed doors.  We grabbed the chalk, drew some bull eyes and had a go with our mud balls.

How have you said, “yes!” this week?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Making Slime in Elementary School

Children of all ages love messy play.  I had the joy of bringing wonderful slimy science to my son's fourth grade class today as we made Gak using the same recipe I had used with my preschoolers last month.

Of course, they were much more independent.  I wrote the recipe on the white board and they were able to help themselves to the ingredients and mix their slimy potion.  We even had an impromptu math lesson about fractions once we learned that the bowls were too small for a full portion of the recipe and we had to cut it in half.

We did some comparing and predicting, discussing differences from the ooblick they had made in science class a few months earlier.  But, for the most part, we oohhed and ahhhed over the chemical change, the feeling of the slime in our fingers, the properties of the potion as it hung off the sides of the desks and bounced.

These were children learning through their play in fourth grade.  They were predicting, measuring, observing, experimenting and discussing several scientific concepts.

Most of them pulled out a notebook to copy the recipe down to try at home with their families.
My son was so excited to show his slime to his sisters and of course, they had to recreate it with him at home. (They are 13 and 15).

The other piece that I brought to the fourth grade class today, is a literacy idea from NurtureStore about  using a story starter to encourage writing    I started a story on the class easel and the students added to it as they waited for a turn to get supplies.  At the end of the lesson, we had the beginnings of a wonderful collaborative slimy story.  They are leaving it up to add more to it next week.

I had a wonderful time playing in fourth grade today.  I feel so fortunate that there are such fantastic teachers out there, such as Ms. Fitzgerald, who understand the power of play and its value to learning...even as children get older.