The the 2nd grade is investigating the question "Who was here before us?" in social studies. They are gathering an incredible amount of information on Native American tribes in Virginia as well as about the first English settlers at Jamestown and Henricus through their research. Their sources include books, interviews, and field trips, including a couple visits to both Historical Jamestowne and the Jamestown Settlement and a visit to a pow-wow and 'Indian Exposition'. They are a gregarious class, and ask lots of questions of the people they meet on these trips.

They stopped in the studio after their Pow-wow trip to think about what they had seen and to make some things for the exhibition they are going to have. G. is interested in Native American Myths and especially mythical creatures. He was sad, because he felt like there was nothing he could make to go into the 2nd grade museum. R was most interested making one of the jingle dresses she had seen in the Powhatan dances, and offered to work with him. They decided to make a set-up that has a Shaman, wearing a jingle dress, using a mythical creature (her spirit friend) who has a series of magnets and electricity inside, that he uses to help people.

Here's how it goes:
"The Shaman sends a signal, and it goes down the leash to the spirit creature. Then you have to turn him around toward the person's brain (the person you want to help). He sends out electromagnetic signals to the the person and reads their mind, and tells if they're excited or calm." Then, the mythical creature influences the puzzle solver inside their brain to help them get what they want.

So, while learning  many, many of discrete facts about Virginia history, the 2nd graders also have space and time to make up stories about mythical creatures, sew some soft sculptures, and to engage each others "puzzle solvers and emotion handlers" by supporting each others interests and place in the group. That is what is so exciting to me about the way children conduct investigative research around here.


  1. The stuff of connection in this project is so rich. One particular thing I like about it is that it is seated in a crossroads between the school's meta-project, tinkering, and one of my favorite fields--psychological anthropology. Yet again, children show us new ways of understanding this world.

  2. Yes indeed, Marty! The tinkering connection
    made me happy, too.
    (and thanks for your comment)


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