Seeking Inventive Ways to Capture Change and Growth (page 2)
A good way to begin engaging children in capturing their observations is through language and communication. Having conversations with children about what they see, feel, smell, hear, and taste is a good starting point. Using descriptive language helps children to express their developing conceptualizations of their observations with words and gestures. A common scene comes to mind when a baby, with outstretched arms, tells everyone that she is “Soooo big!” The language of comparison helps children to attach words to the phenomena and the sequences of change that they observe.
As children use words such as big, bigger, and biggest or tall, taller, and tallest, they are learning how to organize their conceptualizations of comparison, gradation, and seriation. Later, these captured descriptors can lead to creative and meaningful graphing and charting.
An inventive way to keep track of observed changes and growth is through photography. Taking photographs of real things, as children see and observe them change and grow, is a very powerful way to have children think about and reflect on these interesting processes in their world. We can assist young children in taking pictures of pets or plants or themselves, over time, so that they can examine the photographs and talk about how to order them in sequence. For example, when viewing pictures of the growth of a puppy to an adult dog, children may explain that a certain picture is first because the puppy in it is smaller. They can say that another picture is next because the puppy grew. When taking these types of pictures, be sure to keep the camera at the same distance from the animal so that the comparisons are not confounded by distance and perspective. It is also recommended to have a child in the photograph so that there is a basis for comparison.
This kind of reflection and analysis leads to children being able to suggest generalizations, build theories, and make predictions about what happens in their world. The availability of economical digital cameras permits the instant printing of children’s photographs and eliminates the costs of processing film. In addition, these photographic sequences can be included in classroom Web pages.
Also, photographs of many serial events can be accessed on the Internet. Many live Web cams show nature sites. For example, a live camera of a bald eagle nest (http://www.wa.gov/wdfw/wildwatch/eaglecam) shows the changes that take place in the growth of an eaglet. These photographs can be downloaded and printed for use in your classroom.
Change is constant in the lives of small children. They observe changes daily as the sun appears to move through the sky. They observe changes as a rain shower develops or snow falls. They observe leaves falling from trees or a bird carrying dried grass to build a nest.
They observe changes over longer periods of time as they watch their seeds germinate into flowers, witness tadpoles transform into frogs, see caterpillars blossom into butterflies, and experience the changes in temperature as the months progress across the seasons.
Taking pictures or drawing pictures of a sequence of events is helpful for children to experience change. For example, children can take pictures of planting beans. Then every third day or so take another picture until the bean sprouts and becomes a plant. Examining these pictures helps children to re-create the growth that they witnessed. Keeping track of the number of sprouts adds quantification to this exploration.
Cooking with children can also help with sequencing and is an activity children enjoy. Use recipe cards that show the various steps for making play-doh, muffins, or fruit salad. Teachers may want to access children’s cookbooks to support these activities.
Another good activity is to gather three to six cartoons depicting change and have the children put them in order. Cartoons like Peanuts with several squares depicting a sequence of events such as building a snowman can be glued to cardboard and cut out so that the children can put the squares in the correct order. Such an activity can be enhanced by having the children tell the story of change or growth. Prompting children with questions such as “How do you know?” “What would do you think comes next?” “What would the next picture show?” “Why did the picture change?” can help children organize their thinking and enhance their ability to reason and predict. Captions or text can be added to the seriated sequence of photographs. Appropriate language of description, comparison, ordination, gradation, and seriation should be emphasized.
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