As our focus on eggs continues, the children have looked primarily on the eggs most familiar to them. The birds in our yards, building nests on our porches, and the chicken eggs in our refrigerators awaiting your children’s breakfast tummies are those that the children picture when we mention eggs. This is especially true following Easter and those much loved egg hunts (or ‘egg scrambles’ as my husband calls them when he oversees the start to several of these seasonal events as The Wacky Wabbit). This week we have encouraged them to branch out by reading about the other oviparous creatures in our world. These eggs from turtles, fish, snakes, and other reptiles are much harder for us to find to examine in the classroom but, with books and the internet, we are able to find out about these animals as well.
I have been interested in finding ways to incorporate this ‘thread’ we are following in our work in Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops, for during Choice time we are able to make this study an organic piece of our time. During Choice, we can “set the table” with activities, ponderings, and tastes that stretch the imaginations of our kindergarteners. From watching our incubator to creating nests/eggs, our work flows from the interests of the children. This week as we started branching out into other forms of egg-laying life, I slipped a non-fiction book into each child’s book tub. The first day I just told them to find the book in their tub and to be ready to tell us the egg laying family that was the focal point of the book. These books ranged from books about snakes to frogs to fish.
The next day we stretched them as both readers and researchers as they were instructed to look more carefully at the book in their tub, sharing a fact they discovered with their reading partner, and then each partnership was to report to the class something they had learned from their reading. We were truly amazed by the scope of their discoveries. One child noted that “Big fish eat middle sized fish who eat smaller fish. This is called a food chain”. Another child noted that fish don’t close their eyes when they sleep because they don’t have eyelids. Some information shared was most obvious to us as adults, but for the children it is important to learn that ALL birds lay eggs, not just a few. Other facts were checked and corrected when we found that a finding was inaccurate, which was another way of broadening our knowledge.
As we think ahead to where this thread is leading us, we are drawn to giving the children an opportunity for their research to continue during Writer’s Workshop where they can use their skills in both reading and writing to create a book about one of the oviparous animals we are following. The interesting piece of all this Reggio-inspired path is that it lends itself so beautifully to giving children the opportunity to look closely, to spend time with reckless abandon, knowing that all that they are learning is helping them as they grow as readers and writers. Nature has it’s own timetables as do our children. They may ‘hatch’ their passions at times that are different from those we expect. We as adults have already conformed our schedules to our busy lives and we often impose such time tables on our offspring as well. We can’t hurry our eggs to hatch, and we can’t rush our children along either. Giving them the time and space to explore and to find the next red thread enriches their knowledge and understanding of the world around us. Learning is a process of communication, a dynamic and active process. We are fully engaged, are tasting and enjoying everything presented on the table, and adding more to what is available as we have new questions that beg to be answered.