Are Trees Alive?: A Mini Inquiry

Thursday, 18 April 2019


With Earth Day and Arbor Day just around the corner, I thought I'd share a tree inquiry we did a few years ago. 

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

It began with this book!

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

After reading the title, I asked children what they thought the answer was to this question.  We talked about it and then they wrote down their ideas.

There was a lot of uncertainty and a few misconceptions and I decided it would be a great question to explore further.

So, we got busy investigating! 

I brought in some tree artifacts and challenged the children to look for evidence that might help them answer the question.


inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity


inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity


inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

The children made many concrete observations, but their thinking really took a turn when one student shared that the branch he was holding didn't start out that way and that it had to grow to get that big.  

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

Through this, they began to see that living things grow and change.  

Some children noticed and commented on the "swirls" on a tree slice. 

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

We gathered on the carpet to look at the tree rings on a mat we had in our classroom. 

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

I shared that these rings were evidence of growth and that a tree gains one ring for every year of its life.  We counted the rings to see how old the tree would have been if it were real.  

They noticed the cracks in the tree and wondered about those. We read Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and learned how trees can become damaged over time. 


inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

Eventually, we found our way back to the book that inspired our investigation and went beyond the cover to actually read the book.  

Are Trees Alive by Debbie Miller is a really wonderful book.  Not only does the title pose a great question, but the text invites readers to compare their own bodies to trees to show similarities and differences between these two living things.  

I played the song I'm a Tree by Bev Bos (which is sadly unavailable) that invited children to move like a tree.

But here's a great tree mediation that could also be used:


And of course, we did the tree pose!

From there, we broke into small groups (trunk, roots, branches, leaves) to create a life size tree, which we then built and labeled outside our classroom.  

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inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

Lastly, I asked children to respond in writing again to the question, "Are Trees Alive?," so I could see how their thinking had changed.

That's as far as we got in that school year, but in my notes I had written down that there were some great connections made between trees and breathing that we could have explored.  Never enough time in the kindergarten day or year!

If you are planning any Earth Day or Arbor Day projects this spring, you might try this mini-inquiry!

Or consider taking a Tree Walk!

inquiry-based-learning-kindergarten-trees-arbor-day-earth-day-project-activity

Spring can be a challenging time of year (spring fever is for real!) and taking learning outdoors might be just what your kiddos need!

Happy spring and as always...

Thanks for stopping by!

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Morning Work Choices in a Discovery Learning Classroom

Monday, 15 April 2019


Looking for a soft start to your school day and engaging morning work ideas that offer exploration and discovery? Here are some simple choices that work well for my kiddos.

Sketching

Create a "sketch tub" with interesting objects that children will enjoy drawing.  Plants, animals, and other objects from nature make great offerings and can connect to a current inquiry.  Provide each child with their own sketch book to use throughout the year.

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paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom


paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

Yoga

Cosmic Kids Yoga, found on YouTube, offers free children's yoga classes based on favorite themes including Frozen, Minecraft, Star Wars, and Trolls.  Just project on your interactive whiteboard and enjoy watching children do poses with fun stories and themes.

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paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

Reading

Gather bins of seasonal books for children to enjoy.  Change them out each month to reflect holidays and seasonal happenings.

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Provide books that match students' current interests...

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and books they can read all by themselves.

paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

My News

Children come to school with many stories to share!  Offer "news writing," where they can draw and write about the big and little events in their life.


paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

Create a spot where their news can be posted and share with the class during morning meeting!

paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

Research

Create a bin of materials that relate to your current inquiry and let children use them to find new information. Provide note paper for them to record what they find and invite them to share their learning during morning meeting.

Note paper and ideas for setting up an animal research center are included in each of the Ready, Set, Research resources.

paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

Building

Choose a tub of building toys such as Legos, Knex, or Magnetics for children to create and build structures.  Select a new tub each day to keep the interest and creativity going!

paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

Chit Chat

Many children have a great need to socialize upon arrival.  Place mats or pillows on the floor to designate spots for them to sit and talk with friends.  Add a "talking stick" to help them practice taking turns while speaking.

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Announcements signal the end of our morning choice time and the beginning of morning meeting, but it's possible to extend the time and use it to pull a small group or work with individual children.

What morning work choices work well in your room? I would love to hear about them!

paperless-morning-work-ideas-discovery-learning-kindergarten-classroom

If you found this post helpful and think others might too, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media platform!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Welcome Spring: Planting Bean Seeds

Saturday, 16 March 2019


Spring begins this week (yippee!) and my favorite way to welcome the season is by planting some seeds.

It's still winter weather outside our window, but at least we can create some green and growing things on the inside!

Bean seeds are always a hit!

Soak them for 6-8 hours at room temperature.  Once they have softened, give one to each child to split open.  Invite them to remove the seed case, split in half and search for the parts of the plant on the inside.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

Use the remaining seeds for planting.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

They can use this Bean Plant Journal to learn about the stages of growth, make predictions on how many days it will take to sprout, and observe and document the growth on 3 separate occasions.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

While they are waiting for their beans to sprout, read some books about bean plants,

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

watch this cool time lapse video of a bean plant growing,


and put out some dried beans for them to explore. These can be great for sorting, counting, measuring volume or just to free explore in a sensory bin.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

Bean seed mosaics are also a lot of fun and great for strengthening those fine motor muscles.

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade


spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

And then one day...

spring planting bean seeds in preschool, kindergarten, or first grade

Wishing you a smooth start to the new season and hoping you are soon blessed with lots of sunny, warm weather!

Thanks for stopping by,


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