Today we were outside on the playground and our friend Triphene came running up, brimming with excitement with a little slug in his hand. As you know, you have to glom onto the thrills that kindergarteners bring your way, so I held out my hand and told him that we could put it at the Noticing Table. Before long, Triphene had brought several other slugs my way, so I sent him into the classroom to bring back a red tray to hold the slugs. Before long he came running back, but with a piece of red paper in his hands since he couldn’t find the red trays. For the next ten minutes or so, he found more slugs to bring to the red paper, until we had a total of seven slugs to observe during Choice Time.
By the time we went inside, the red paper was traced with silvery slug trails (or slug writing, or slug poetry if we only knew how to read their words). We talked about the slugs, asking questions about slugs and snails. “Why do they put out those antennae?” ” I think those are the way that they eat.” “Are they building a shell on their backs?” “Do they turn into snails?” “What do they eat?” Of course, we need to research to find out the answers to these questions and we are learning how to find resources for the information that we seek. We can look in books, in magazines, on the internet, at ImaginOn. Our sources are large, but our first source is our own eyes and experience.
At the Noticing Table, the children were engrossed (!!) by the slugs. Since Mrs. Redmond and I were involved in other projects, the children took the reins and off they went. They decided that they would go beyond just drawing the slugs, but would attach a piece of paper that would give the slugs an opportunity to draw their own words/descriptions. The children first picked a piece of pink paper, but then decided that the silver trails would show up better on black paper. They found the paper, stapled it to their drawings, and put the slugs to work. The Noticing Table was surrounded by enthusiastic scientists who were drawing, discussing, hypothesizing, and arguing a bit about what they were seeing with their own eyes.
At dismissal, Triphene put the slugs back in their home where he had found them, underneath a drain that covers the equipment for the watering system. Tomorrow our research can begin in earnest as we look for the answers for the questions that came to our minds today. We’ll gather sources and will see what we can learn about these creatures that share our playground and our planet. But we will remember that our first and foremost resource has been our own observation. Here’s a question for tomorrow: Why do the slugs gather in the drain that covers the watering system? Why is that a comfortable place for them?
As we look at this day through the eyes of Reggio Emilia, we see that we have to be open and receptive to the ideas that the children bring our way. We had never thought of looking for slugs, much less making a slug collection. When we are open to the ideas that the children show us, (even if that means holding a slimy slug while others are being collected) we give our little ones an opportunity to show us the world through fresh, unfiltered eyes. We all learn something new when we look through the cracks in our lives to the pieces that can seem alien or unfamiliar. By the end of the week, thanks to Triphene, we’ll be knowledgable about something new.
And just to let you know, slugs and snails are mollusks and gastropods. Hmmmm. Gastropod….does that word give us a clue about slugs?