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Learning Through Play

Machine Makers

Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 3:09 pm
Posted by Hadassah

We began hearing Max and Geffen converse with each other using the word "machine" while at the water area. They seemed to have clear ideas about what a machine is, they knew it consisted of parts and that a something went inside, in this case it was water and "hammerhead sharks". Max also had a stronng sense that his hammerhead sharks had to transform somehow while inside the machine and then come out but he couldnt figure out how this could happen.DSCN0061.JPG

According to Wikipedia, a machine is a powered tool consisting of one or more parts that is constructed to achieve a particular goal.  What was their goal? We decided to print out pictures of various machines and hang them near the water area to see what would happen.

A few days later Geffen came in with his father and they looked at one of the pictures together and he began talking about the picture using the same language he used with Max  regarding the hammerhead sharks. Geffen not only remembered the play scenario but applied it to a two dimensional picture which was very intricate in detail, we call this Transferrable Knowledge. Transferrable Knowledge is when students learn how, when and why to apply their acquired knowledge to a new discipline or situation. It illustrates critical thinking and problem solving and shows internalized learning.

The next step was to invite the two boys into the Atelier to create blueprints of their machines and see if their same ideas stay the same in a different setting

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They both retained their ideas of the machines being used for water and went further to each represent the flow of water in their machines using beads and marbles. They showed where the water went in and where it came out, but could they verbalize to their peers what their ideas were?

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They both shared their blueprints at a reflection meeting and each one communicated clearly what the machines were used for and the paths the water took while inside.

Could they  once more go back to the three dimensional and once again transfer their ideas? Would the materials given to them take them off track and down another path? Did their presentations at meeting time garnish interest in other children for this project? Where do we go from here?DSCN0161.JPG

 Once again, their ideas were represented and another friend, Ryan was inspired by this project and also decided to become a Machine Maker. DSCN0164.JPGThere is ongoing research out of the University of Illinois at Chicago regarding the lack of deeper thinking skills in new college graduates. In the begginning of this research they blamed the collegiate system but after years of research they came to the conclusion that you have to go all the way back to early childhood. We have been so focused on general problem solving skills that we forgot about focusing on reasoning and adaptability within specific areas. Many blame  multiple choice tests that are constant from grade school through college and the lack of assessments that are geared towards reasoning and critical thinking. 

The Machine Makers are a small example of how we can mold curriculum around childrens interest yet push them to think deeper all the while holding  to state standards.  

The Language of Music

Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 6:55 pm
Posted by Hadassah

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 This summer we have decided to focus on five "Languages"; Clay, Sand, Paint, Water and Music. With each one of these we are working IMG_07241.JPGto create curriculum that takes each child on a journey to investigate further characteristics and forms of expression. We believe that each one of our families are our partners in creating this curriculum and we wanted to share with you our thoughts on music and how we are approaching it with the children.

We began this past year with our "Sound Structure" and addingIMG_0416.JPG permanent instruments that children could manipulate. It started with buckets used as drums for the students to bang on and then a xylophone  added this past spring. We questioned whether or not to have only hand-made instruments or to include store bought. We presently have both in this area but are working on creating a board full of pictures depicting various ethnic instruments in order to get children thinking about how and what they can create.

 

IMG_3628.JPG Movement and music exist together as one is just the visual representation of the other. How can we discuss music without including this element? During morning meetings we have begun to do the Brain Dance, which is a series of eight movements that realign the Central Nervous System. We have started with three of these movements while we sing nursery rhymes. Last week the introduction of Language of Dance symbols (a method of recording movement) occured with the children learning the symbol for action and stillness. We are excited to see the unfolding of this language along with music as more are introduced.

 

IMG_0358.JPG Music and sound surround us everyday through radio, television, our family culture and our imagination. Our classroom environment is always flooded with song, whether its playing softly in the background or the children singing Shabbat songs and davening. We wanted to figure out how to get students to think about sound and what we hear on a IMG_0719.JPGconstant basis and somehow translate it into music. The ideas of footsteps came to mind and we began brainstorming about shoes; dress shoes,IMG_0724.JPG tennis shoes, tap shoes etc... A few different kinds of shoes were brought in and discussed at a morning meeting with the question of, what do you hear? Geffen decided that his feet were "drums" when he wore the tap shoes. His statement made us so excited to continue this and we are eager to have all of you, our Gan Malibu community, join us on this journey of music and gather your thoughts and ideas.

The Magic and Fascination of light

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 5:21 pm
Posted by Hadassah

Lights and Shadows hold our curiosity in every generation. From a young child watching shadows move on the ground to restaurants and stores lined with twinkle lights beckoning us all to come in. For light to be illuminated at its fullness, darkness must exist. Exploring light in dimly lit places also helps children gradually overcome fears and opens up conversations about feelings and hesitations transforming them into curiosity.

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Our Light area has taken on many different changes and it always holds this quiet awe of children as they explore the transparancy and appreciate the unique beauty this language brings to life.

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100 Languages

Thursday, July 19, 2012 - 6:50 pm
Posted by Hadassah

 

The child has

a hundred languages

a hundred hands

a hundred thoughts

a hundred ways of thinking

of playing, of speaking

-Loris Malaguzzi

The definition of the word Language according to Merrian Webster not only refers to the sounds we articulate but also to "the suggestion by objects, actions, or conditions of associated ideas or feelings".

Children have so many avenues to express themselves, whether through painting, dancing, sculpting etc.. These languages represent their thought processes and theories. When they are investigating various ideas they are asked to use these languages to communicate their perspectives. Unlike some schools who see the arts designated to an arts and crafts center, the belief is that these are indeed languages and weave themselves through all areas of thinking. As children both mature and as their ideas change so do the way they interact with these languages. IMG_0467.JPG

 How does language develop?

We first begin communicating our needs as infants with gesturing and imitating sounds we hear. As we progress our language develops into communicating needs and feelings, for this to happen a thought process must precede what is vocalized.As we all know these changes are not immediate and take time as children make observations and soak in the world around them.

 

How is this applicable to the materials we use in preschool?

If we see materials as languages then the same progression must apply. When paint is only put out as a special guest on an occasion then the children never progress past the babbling, gesturing phase. By giving the students ample opportunity to explore materials and when provocations are presented to them in order to urge them to a higher level of technique and imagination, communication begins taking shape. 

 

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Why Collaboration?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 12:05 pm
Posted by Gan Malibu Staff

Everyone of our lives is full of collaboration both  personally and professionally. We could never go a day without discussions and various forms of compromise with those around us.How and why is this life skill communicated on an Early Childhood level?

 When a child is in the "mine"


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stage how is even the thought of working together towards a shared goal even possible? Each one of us is made up of strengths and weaknesses. The realization of those leads us to crave collaboration. 

When the clay was first introduced some friends only noticed the way the clay colored the base of the pool , while others realized that they could tear pieces off and form them into shapes. Verbally pointing out the individual childs "techniques" piques other childrens interest and then "scaffolding" begins.

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When these objective observations are voiced peer learning happens and stronger bonds are formed between friends. 
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The Power of Creativity

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 5:22 pm
Posted by Hadassah

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I am full of ideas, please watch me and you will see. I can teach you how to slow down and see through my eyes, come on my journey with me and let your creativity take wind like a butterfly in flight....

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Encourage me and I will encourage you....

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Help me have the courage to explore...

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and I will give you the courage to see the world in a different way.

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Together we can inspire each other and create memmories we will always cherish.


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