Showing posts from May, 2014

Collaboratiing with Clasroom Teachers on Their Research: Using Materials in New Ways

Nancy and Robyn who teach the oldest preschool class (five going on six) decided this year to investigate one common material to see if there was anything more to it than they had seen before. The material, MagnaTiles, are really neat, but like so many toys, children's play can become repetitive after they are out in the classroom for a while.

Normally, the Teachers explained, they put the toys away when the children seem to run out of new ideas with them. But this year they decided to keep the MagnaTiles out and pay attention to them.
I got to support the group a couple of times while they were trying new things with MagnaTiles. One of the first things was to ask children to pre-plan a building. This allowed one group to play with the MagnaTiles in the Meadow room while I worked with another in the studio. Since I don't have a set, I offered squares of paper and scotch tape. Miles, Luke, Tucker and Tavish started by thinking about more ships. but eventually came up with a p…

Five year olds explain what 'stink-eye' is

Sitting around the table in the studio making things, Julianna said "Sometimes I don't want to play with somebody who always gives me the 'stink-eye'. I asked if they all knew what that was and some said 'no'.
When I asked her to explain 'stink-eye', this is what the children did... yikes!

Frozen: A Guest Post From the Meadow Room (5yr)

This is a guest post from Nancy Sowder, who teaches with Robyn in the class of the oldest preschool children. See more Sabot preschool blogs at

A Story for the Girls, Part 2: A Theory
Pretend play based on the movie Frozen continued for the entire year.  We read a beautiful version of The Snow Queen and after finishing the story, which took more than 2 weeks, the children immediately wanted to read it again.  We have gone on to other Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales.

The children also wrote their own stories and performed them in circle.  These stories combined many characters from disparate sources; movies, invented characters, and video games.

Robyn and I went to see the movie Frozen earlier in the year so we would know the story the children were playing out.  There were some parts that we questioned, and we were surprised that the children were drawn to Elsa, when Anna seemed a more likely hero.  After all, Elsa was challenging - "she couldn'…

Representing and Final Products

It's always difficult to resist a big grand finale with projects, but usually the research and dialog is where new understandings are built, so a finale isn't at all important. And final products often even distract children from the research and co-construction of knowledge. So what's a good reason do do some kind of presentation, play or other big she-bang to sum up and investigation? If smaller groups within a classroom are investigating different things, each group would be responsible to bring their research back to share with the larger group. It the case of the Kindergarten this year, three different groups spun of from a discussion about collecting data on a weather chart, and so each group is planning a way to teach the rest of the class what they've figured out. The group I've been working with decided to make a movie, kind of like Cosmos. Here is a sneak peak at some of the 'Lego-mation' that will be in the movie:

Observing and Making Theories


"Like a window into our class": The fourth grade mural

"We wanted our project to be more cognitive than physical. We wanted it to be more thoughtful and deeper." -Rose and Aggie "Abstract art is kind of a mystery. You have to think it in your mind to see what it means"-Mason
 The 4th grade class decided they wanted to beautify their room, which is in a trailer.

They made a study of measurement, scale, engineering, street art and symbolism in art.

Luckily Richmond has become a street art haven, thanks to artists like Ed Trask and the Washington gallery Art Wino, which sponsors a big festival here. We talked about how a lot of art has ideas that make you 'ponder'. The class wanted their art to make people ponder about what it means to be a 4th grader here. Then, they began to paint:

It Happens in a Time


What happens at the school when we aren't there?

It's sometimes tricky to keep inquiry local. When children are thinking about ideas that are really big, like weather or environment, it can be challenging to find ways to connect to the content in a personal way. The Kindergarten Teachers found a neat tool for their group who is thinking about the environment around our school- a deer camera. This weather-proof outdoor camera takes photos which are triggered by movement. It allows us to see what's happening when we aren't at school, and it has caught some surprising images (some of which have been made 'auto awesome' by google)..

John Dewey was the educational philosopher who influenced schools to teach with things that children could see and touch. He said;
“There is no such thing as educational value in the abstract. The notion that some subjects and methods and that acquaintance with certain facts and truths possess educational value in and of themselves is the reason why traditional education reduced the mater…