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The Hundred Languages

No way. The hundred is there.

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling, of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

-Loris Malaguzzi (translated by Lella Gandini) 

Founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach

 

I think of all the results of play that the children want to share with me each day. I take photos to celebrate their works.

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What do you see?  I see the “Hundred Languages” and use these languages to see the child.

 

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In Kindergarten, my favourite integration of subjects is probably language, science, and art. The children are always fascinated with nature and our surroundings. We have looked at trees, squirrels, clouds, plants, and birds as topics of study. The tangible subjects provide the best science subjects – as the children can observe and predict first hand.

A few months ago, one of the books we were reading introduced hibernation. This was a concept that we explored further. Then we found we were comparing hibernation with migration. I was amazed at how much the children understood in our group discussions. I wanted to provide an opportunity for those with other strengths to also demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, so I thought about a class mural. This would provide an open invitation for those children to contribute and it also allowed them the opportunity to collaborate and discuss their ideas and understandings.

Setting out Kraft brown paper as the backdrop and providing the children with a variety of materials, they were invited to add signs of hibernation or migration.

Hibernation and Migration Mural

 

I noticed that some children were more interested in contributing their ideas as visual representations, while others were more interested in providing oral comments and discussing the work of their peers. They wanted to add clouds, snow on the ground, and a sun. Once the mural was complete, I asked the children, “How do you know whether the animals are hibernating or migrating?” Here are a few responses:

  • “The bear is hibernating because he is sleeping in the cave.”
  • “The frog is hibernating in the pond.”
  • “I know the birds are migrating because they are up in the sky flying to where it is warm.”
  • “I see a butterfly that migrates.”
  • “The bunny has a path to get out and in of his tunnel.”

Completed Collaborative Mural

 

Not only does this make their thinking more visible, it also demonstrates how well the children are learning in relationship with one another. All year they have been working side by side showing their ability to not only share materials but work on shared representations – representations that demonstrate their ability to collaborate.

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As I mentioned previously, this is a newly acquired space for Kindergarten. Unfortunately,the environment has to evolve and develop while resources and time becomes available. There are many details and layers to add as I work with the children, but the following photos document the most basic changes to an area as it has changed in the last two months.

The building blocks are an integral part of the Full-Day Kindergarten program. In September, I was provided with a large library book bin to hold blocks. When the big blocks arrived I placed them in the bin, and the children used the carpet to build on.

 

The box lasted about two weeks. The taller children were able to reach inside and access the blocks, but some of them were dangling from the sides and I envisioned them falling head first as they were independently attempting to use the blocks. So, I moved the bin out of the classroom and rethought the space. There are built in shelves under the window that I could use to hold the blocks. So this was the second major change for the building area.

 

This new area was beside the math centre. There was no clear divider, so I would need to find a unit to define the areas. The blocks were now visible to the children and at their level to see and access easily. I observed the children as they used the area and I noticed that their space was smaller, but they were working more collaboratively with the same number of students. To anchor the space and make it more inviting, I searched for a carpet that would fit the space.

After asking friends (which they are used to) for a carpet they were no longer in need of, my friend provided me with a great carpet. It fit the space, and the colours of black, green, and beige were neutral to fit with the materials. I then moved a small bookcase to use as a shelving unit for the math centre, and the back of the unit defines the space for the building area. There is a basket of clipboards that will be introduced soon to encourage drawings of plans and finished products. There are also baskets for recycled materials (paper towel tubes and boxes) that can be incorporated into the builds. The children also often use manipulatives such as cubes and counters to integrate with their structures. The biggest change I noticed after adding the carpet was that girls were selecting the building centre more than previously. The carpet provided comfort to an inviting space.

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To continue from the last post about our inquiry including structures, I thought I would share some images that show an example of the process of learning in the Grade 1/2 classroom. There is a walking bridge close to the school that all the children were familiar with, so I asked them how the structure was supported from one side of the ravine to the other. There were various replies, but most students agreed that there were posts holding it up. So we all walked to the ravine with our journals and to their surprise there were no posts! So I asked the children to simply observe and record their ideas about the structure. When we returned to class there was excitement over their discoveries. We took time looking at various representations that they drew and noticed many details in the construction. The children commented on the materials and also the purpose of the design. For days (even weeks), many of the students used blocks to reconstruct the bridge from one chair to another, trying to build a bridge with supports on each end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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During our inquiry, “How has the world changed?” students considered structures and movement as outlined in the Grade 1 and 2 Science curriculum.  We read books together on all types of structures, and found the book Let’s Go: The Story of Getting from There to Here by Lizann Flatt to be a foundation to our study. Somehow, an interest in inuksuit emerged. It was a wonderful example of how the students interests in a topic took us to new learning that still connected with our curriculum. They were able to identify the purposes of an inuksuk and experimented with various materials while representing their learning, such as blocks and torn construction paper.

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In a Grade 1 and 2 classroom, the students are often able to write their responses. However, I find that the inquiry work that the children do over months on integrated subjects of the curriculum allow them to represent their understanding in a variety of ways. When studying the sun, the air and water in connection with community (local for Grade 1 and in another country for Grade 2), the children were able to demonstrate their knowledge using fabrics. This followed lessons on horizon lines, perspective, and texture. They also had unhurried time to experiment with fabrics and wool in the art studio. When they asked to represent their knowledge using fabric, I wasn’t surprised that they could do it, however, I was surprised at the aesthetics of their finished works.

A community in Africa, in need of rain. (Grade 2 student)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A local community using the sun’s energy. (Grade 1 student)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothing and homes in a community in Africa. (Grade 2 student)

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Keeping an eco-approach to our learning helps direct our art activities in the classroom. I have steered away from construction paper and pipe cleaners in the last few years and moved towards a collection of found materials. The book, Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials by Cathy Weisman Topal and Lella Gandini is a great starting point if you want to learn more about integrating found materials into your program. If you are looking for something more, Lella recommended the following book to me at a conference earlier this year, Children, Art, Artists: The Expressive Languages of Children, the Artistic Language of Alberto Burri by Reggio Children.

The art projects pictured here, integrated learning in language and visual art. Instead of making picture frames, the children created stands using recycled thread spools. A controlled palette was provided with an assortment of buttons, shells, and pearls. The children created individual pieces that were then used as gifts for their families.

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johnaleslietdsb

Our Inquiry Journey

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let the children play

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Inquiring Minds: Mrs. Myers' Kindergarten

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leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry