Our PreK B/C class at our Waterville center recently explored the incredible life of turtles! This age group is 3 to 5 years old and they are full of imagination.
At the beginning of the school year, we began with a new class of students, so every experience was brand new and exciting. We have two pet turtles in our classroom, Crush and Tucker. Crush is a red-eared slider turtle that lives in the water and Tucker is a tortoise that lives on land. As our children were eager and excited to help with our class pets, they also had many questions: Why does one live in water and one live on land? Why do their shells look different? What do they eat? Why do they eat? Why do they need a light above them?
The children had so many questions and we wanted to provide them with hands-on learning opportunities to explore their curiosity. They were provided with opportunities to answer their questions through the use of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).
In these exercises, we touched on several Reggio Emilia principles:
Children are capable of constructing their own learning. – We use provocations in our learning environments to engage children and observe their reactions to stimuli. We base our learning experiences on the children’s questions, interactions and manipulation of the provocations.
Children form an understanding of themselves and their place in the world through their interactions with others. – Many of our environments are shared spaces. Spaces are set up to provoke the learning of all children, and children can learn from others’ use of spaces and tools. Educators use small groups to engage children for learning and collaboration.
Children are communicators. – At Children’s Discovery Center, we use the communication of children to drive our daily learning experiences. Children’s questions are documented and used as a guide for exploration. Lessons are shaped based on the messages we are given by children. Children’s play is used as a way for educators to gain further insight into the children’s understanding of concepts.
The environment is the third teacher. – Children’s Discovery Center believes in “inspiring spaces.” Centers are designed to promote creative thinking and to maximize interactions with our natural world. Centers house natural artifacts from the communities in which they reside. Learning tools are at student levels and encourage investigation. Project inspired concepts are immersed in the different learning areas within a classroom and space. Aesthetically pleasing inspirations are placed in rooms to capture children’s attention to promote connections and denote the purposes of learning in each space.
In our “Turtle Projects,” we used various objects to create art that represented the turtles found in our classroom. From wooden pieces, buttons and canvas to felt and clay, each child created a piece that was inspired by the natural wonder found in observing our classroom turtles. We are excited to continue our learning and finding new wonders to explore every day!