Tuesday, February 15, 2011

dinosaurs with horns and spikes, oh my

We want our children to wonder, to explore the world with natural curiosity. We want this but do we nurture it through infancy, early childhood, primary school, and beyond?

This is of course something I want for each child in my class. I also want that sense of curiosity to stay with them through adulthood. Recently someone mentioned that we adults - at least many of us - have lost that sense of wonder. This statement had a deep impact on me. We want our children to move through their days wondering, reflecting, hypothesizing, and problem-solving but do we do that? If we want this for our children, active minds, then we need to insure that we (parents, caregivers, and teachers) provide a place for that at home and at school.

This year as we commit ourselves to working and learning through project based learning I see the layers of inquiry unfold as children make sense of the information they come across. It's inspiring to listen to their conversations. Today in the art center, Ms. P worked with a small group interested in working on a dinosaur class book. As the four children first sketched a dinosaur from the book and later painted a dinosaur a back and forth conversation began.

V: He's scary.
Ms. Annie: Why?
V: It has a scary face.
Ms. Annie: What about the dinosaur is scary?
V: His teeth.
V: How come this one has horns and one doesn't?
A: I don't know.
V: How come one has spikes and the other doesn't?
A: Some has horns because they can fight each other.
Ms. Annie: Do you think they have horns to fight?
A: Yes, I do. The ones that have no horns - how can they fight?
Ms. Annie: Why do you think they fight?
V: They fight for their underpants. (reference to the book we read yesterday)

This conversation shows a natural sense of curiosity. Ms. P also naturally asks children questions to deepen their thinking. These are the moments we want and that we want to encourage at home and at school. For us, this may be a great beginning for deeper inquiry...how did dinosaurs protect themselves?

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