Group Learning Stories Part 4

Singing and Dancing

We just can’t get enough music! Lucky for us, Chris (one of our teachers that regularly fills in for us) brought his guitar. He taught us a few songs and we used them to sing and play freeze dance. It’s interesting to watch the different strategies that people will use when playing games. For example, in this game, students dance until the music stops and then freeze. If they move (and get spotted), they are out. Some kids go all out and dance wildly, making it more likely to end in a difficult position to hold, while others make little movements so that it is easier to stop. When playing games, we often end with discussions on strategy (what you did and why), good sportsmanship (recognizing it in others and ourselves), and focusing on what we liked and appreciated about the game and gameplay.

Group Learning Stories Part 4-1

It’s a Circus out there!

Social and imaginative play are a big part of early development. there are mountains of research and information on these topics so we’ll sum it up by saying there are so many areas being worked on and things being worked out both personally and socially during these play times.

Some of the games they’ve played for a length of time (game resumes when we head back to the area), are ice cream shop, good guy vs bad guy, mining, monkeys and circus. With circus, they perform their “acts”. This involves a lot of balancing, climbing, hanging, and lifting of big logs.

Group Learning Stories Part 4-2

Good vs. Bad

As I’ve mentioned, there is a wealth of research and knowledge on social and imaginative play. One of the most talked about themes is certainly the good vs. bad play. No matter where you go, children always seem to engage in some form of good vs. bad play. It’s an important theme to them with many theories as to why. Of course, we don’t want them running around being overly aggressive towards anyone or being solely focused on this one theme, but we also don’t want to say they aren’t allowed to explore something that is so important to them. We try to let them explore this theme, but keep it balanced by asking them not to use “weapons” (and discussing why) and by involving them in other games and themes as well. We also talk about all of this, the difference between pretend and real, and our feelings around these things. They are quite thoughtful in their reflections and feelings around the whole good vs. bad play subject.

The games revolve around chasing and catching the bad guy (and then the bad guy escaping and the chase resumes!), so I’ve noticed that I don’t have a non-blurry photo that captures the action. So here’s a picture of the miners (unfortunately, the mine has had to close to due environmental concerns)

Group Learning Stories Part 4-3

Blind Partner Walk

One thing we like to do every now and then is a blind partner walk. One person has their eyes closed and their partner guides them on a walk. We use this as a way to understand the world around us in different ways; using different senses and perspectives. It is also an exercise in communication and trust. The guide has to clearly communicate to their partner so that they can walk safely with their eyes closed. The person with eyes closed has to trust that their guide will keep them safe. It’s a great practice on so many levels!

Group Learning Stories Part 4-4

The Salmon are Here!

The salmon has made their trek up the river. This is a big theme for us! We are using the salmon as a group inquiry (project) with the munchkins so that we can explore this topic in detail and so that they get an idea of the process of inquiry. We always start with something that we are interested in and want to know more about or learn to do. From there, we wonder… what do we want to know? Then, we start gathering information. We start with what we already know in our heads. Then we talk about other ways to learn: observation, actively participating in something (learn by doing), reading stories and other books, watching shows, finding out facts online, and asking experts. It becomes clear early on that the learning is a cycle; we wonder, learn and, in learning, we often end up with more wonders… it seems our wonders grow s exponentially in relation to our growth in understanding.

Group Learning Stories Part 4-5

Salmon Tag

An important way that kids learn is through play. One of our favourite games is tag… any variation of tag is a hit. We have two different salmon tag versions. In Salmon and Bear Tag, there are a few bears that chase and “eat” the salmon. Once eaten, the salmon lays dead on the ground. There are some great dead salmon poses. This game has grown to incorporate other salmon predators such as eagles and fishermen. It’s a great imagination, as we all run around playing our roles in the game and it helps us learn about salmon predators.

Sue has also taught us a great salmon tag game. There are multiple levels to it, and the munchkins play the version where, when they get tagged, they get a card that says how they died. After a round, we’ll all sit and say how we died. We learn a lot about the hazards a salmon faces when making its journey to spawn.

Group Learning Stories Part 4-6

Natural Obstacles

We love to use the natural obstacles we find around us to build our gross motor skills… I mean, to play. Building gross motor skills is a happy by- product of our interactions with natural obstacles such as logs, trees, stumps, branches and uneven surfaces. Your body has to work harder when working with uneven and ever-changing (unpredictable) surfaces. Balance, coordination, strength, and stamina are all called upon to help us maneuver around

Group Learning Stories Part 4-7

Demonstrating Inquiry

Over the summer, Randy set out to get a wooden flute. At first he wanted to buy one, and then he decided to buy a kit to build one, and then he decided to build it all himself. He talked about the whole process he went through: how his plan changed a lot from beginning to end, how he learned by reading a lot on the subject and asking experts and learning from them, and, of course, by trying it out for himself. It was a great example of a project that involves not only learning more about a subject that interests you and sharing it, but creating something in the process as well. It also helped the kids see that adults are also often in the middle of their own inquiries/projects and that inquiry is not about “school work;” it’s about passion/interest, curiosity and wondering, problem solving, learning, reflecting, growing and sharing.

Group Learning Stories Part 4-8

Twosie Hunt

We read a book today about leaves and their cycle on a tree. The maple leaf was the focus of the book and it talked about the seed. We noticed the seed is a twosie (comes in a pair). So we set out for a twosie hunt to see what else we could find in nature that came in twos. With keen observation and a mind set to hunt for patterns, we managed to find many twosies on our walk. Noticing groups of two helps us work on our observation, patterning, classification and our understanding of our world. It also works number concepts of the number 2, pairs, evens, number patterns ( Fibonacci sequence, counting by 2s), and the foundations of multiplication (counting groups of a number).

Group Learning Stories Part 4-9

Leaf Art

We set out to collect leaves and do some leaf painting. The kids came up with many different strategies for painting leaves. They painted observationally by looking at their leaf and trying to recreate it on paper. They painted around the leaf, creating a negative image. Some of them incorporated the leaf into their painting, making it a 3D element to their work. They also put the leaf under the paper and painted overtop, trying to leave an imprint of the leaf. Although, they discovered that this works better with crayons, so they did that too! They were trying out new techniques and strategies and while having fun and expressing themselves through their artwork.

Group Learning Stories Part 4-10