Our courtyard project has continued throughout January with a look at measuring the courtyard, since kindergarten has been absorbed with measurement during this month. In kindergarten we have been largely involved with using nonstandard units of measurements as we forgo yardsticks and other measuring devices, and use instead our feet, our hands, our fingers….We spread our measurement over a couple weeks, and first used nonstandard measurements. The children selected a part of their body that they would use to measure the perimeter of the courtyard. Kindergarteners learned the word perimeter, and step by step discovered how many of their footsteps would circle the courtyard. Wonder of wonders, when compared with their eighth grade buddies, the numbers didn’t match up. What was happening?
The next week we brought in a variety of standard measuring devices, such as a meter stick, measuring tapes, rulers….The children set to work again, and the middle schoolers found this more challenging as they tried to make their measurements more accurate, which isn’t always easy when your helper is a five or six year old! The children were able to see that common ground was met when they used standard units of measurement (and that you need to take care as you make those measurements).
As we looked at the questions the children (both kindergarteners as well as eighth graders) posed for exploration in our study of the courtyard, one was a look at the plants that grow in the courtyard. We thought of ways they could experience/investigate these plants in a way that would fully involve both kindergarteners as well as their more mature friends.
We decided that it would be a duel process, in which the children would work together in making detailed drawings of a plant of their choice in the courtyard. The eighth graders will add another step to the process by using their skills in research to find both the scientific name of the plant of their choice as well as the common name. Today they worked together to select and draw their plant, and during the course of the week the older children will find the name(s) of their plant and will label their drawing in the hallway.
It is such a joy to see the delight on the faces of the kindergarten children when they realize they will have a chance to spend some quality time with their beloved science buddies. Their lives are richer for having this time to spend with an eighth grade friend, and they are learning so much from the experience of working together on a common project.