Inquiring Minds is delighted to share today’s post from Mrs. Jane Buckley-Black, Richland’s Junior Kindergarten teacher.
I was most inspired by a rich Pinterest posting this past week entitled: ‘Outdoor Maths: Measuring the Size of Sticks.’ This was posted by ‘Creative Star Learning’ which is an organization that “supports and develops outdoor learning and play at a national, local, and school level with practical ideas and information.”
As I reflected on the posting, I thought; what a wondrous way to engage the children with extending and enriching their knowledge about ‘Measurement.’I proceeded to give our JK children a task: “Please bring in a stick from your garden for a challenging task.” For the next few days the children were wondering and sharing: “What are we going to do with our sticks?” and “I brought a stick from my garden” and “I found a wobbly stick outside at recess” began to emerge from our students.
We had a variety of sticks arrive of many different sizes, and textures, some that were straight and some that were deemed ‘wobbly’. On Wednesday morning, we extended the challenge to our JK children that began with this question: “How can we solve the following dilemma with our sticks: How can we manipulate our sticks to determine the shortest to the tallest?”
The conversations began with a dialogue about what the children knew about measuring. “We can measure how tall you are” L. shared. “Maybe with the sticks we will measure us and find out how tall we are” remarked M.“Say I was a stick this small (showing with her hands) and then there was a stick this long (making a bigger stick with her hands) and then I put them together to see the smaller and longer one” declared J.
Words such as “tiny” and “shortest” were affirmed that meant the ‘same as’ “shortest.” Words for “tallest” were deliberated: “longest”, “biggest”, “big” and “largest.”
The children voiced: “We need a spot for all of our sticks to line up!” The edge of the carpet was determined as the spot “we need to line up our sticks from.” A rock was selected as one end called “the shortest spot” and another rock was determined as “the tallest spot.”The challenge posed to the children was: to make the line of sticks increase in size. Each child took a turn to put his/her stick down onto the tiled floor, carefully lining up one end of the stick to the edge of the carpet.
It was a deceptively challenging and higher level thinking task. The children needed to evoke many strategies, answer questions and share knowledge. The JK implemented: ‘analyzing’, ‘identifying’, ‘formulating’, ‘hypothesizing’, ‘organizing’, ‘comparing’ and ‘distinguishing’ the differences and similarities of their sticks, as well as share patterns about their thinking. Much deliberation, negotiation and measuring and comparing emerged, as each stick was added to the line of sticks.