It’s Teacher Feature Thursday!
This week we are featuring Meredith Osborne. Her mobile infant classroom was learning about how things move and decided to spend a day comparing how birds fly and fish swim. Below you will find a reflection from Meredith and images from some of her lessons.
What were your topics of exploration?
We were exploring “How Things Move”. I always like to start with the concrete/familiar and move to the abstract, so we began the month looking at how we, as mobile infants, move our bodies. It was particularly fitting to focus on how we move, as this is a skill that all the children in my class are working on, experimenting with, and perfecting.
On this particular day, we had expanded to “How Things Move: By Land, By Air, and By Sea”. We started by visiting “The Birds of D.C.” and “Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America” exhibitions. To keep with the idea of starting based in the concrete, we went outside earlier in the week to look at the birds on the National Mall, which introduced the ideas of birds and flying. Since we were not able to touch any of the birds in the exhibitions, I brought toy stuffed birds ( falcons, mallards, and cardinals) with us to hold and explore while in the exhibition. We also listened to bird songs, tried our best to mimic the birds by flapping our arms, and attempted to copy the bird calls. Later that day, we played with feathers, felt their textures, dropped them through the air, and blew air through them.
After visiting the bird exhibitions, we moved on to “How Things Move: By Sea” and watched the fish swimming in the coral reef aquarium. While watching the fish, we talked about what we were observing and sang the song “Let’s Go Swimming” by Laurie Berkner.
In the afternoon, we dropped objects in water to see what would float and sink. I asked the group, “did anything swim like a fish?” To finish up the lesson, we did a semi structured story time (structured for the teachers in that we built a routine, but mostly unstructured for the children), where we read “The Little Blue Truck Leads the Way.” I laminated images of the characters in the books for everyone to hold while we read the story. While “The Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle did not fit perfectly into the lesson for the day, it did fit perfectly into the overall lesson of “How Things Move” and we had been reading it all week to become familiar with it. By reading it daily, the book quickly became one of our favorites. We ended the storytime by singing our closing song, “If You are happy and You Know It!”
What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?)
For this lesson, I was interested in introducing the large concepts of what floats and flies. I was also hoping to practice some gross motor skills through flapping our hands like birds and to provide a sensory experience through touching water and feathers.
However, with this age learning objectives are very fluid. My goal is to provide the children with a new experience and see how they interpret it and work to make it their own.
What was most successful about your lesson?
In a word: Experimenting. In a reflection on our classroom, one of my teaching partners explained she likes “how we try new things and are not afraid of it.” It can be hard to experiment, because you need to find the balance between routine / stability and the change that comes with trying new things. Both routine and new experiences are vitally important to the mobile infants; it is the challenge of the teacher to make sure that the classroom has an appropriate balance of both for each individual child.
Experimenting can also be a difficult thing to observe. I go into the classroom everyday knowing that I am experimenting and changing variables to see how the children will react. As a result, this means that no lesson will be the ideal. For this particular observation, we had just started doing our semi structured story time. We, as teachers, were working to establish a routine and the children, as learners, were working to comprehend the purpose of story time. It was exciting to do, but it had not been worked out fully. We have changed several things about our story time format and continued to make our stories more interactive since this lesson took place.
What could you have done differently? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?
I would recommend that other teachers observe their mobile infants carefully and try to change the lesson according to the child or group of children’s individual needs and interests. Planning is very important for mobile infants. It is good to plan an experience that starts with the concrete and moves slowly towards the abstract, but do not be upset if your lesson does not fully jump into the abstract, as that is not developmentally appropriate. Provide experiences that involve all the senses if possible. Reach for ways to incorporate touch, taste, smell, and sound; do not rely purely sight. Always have new things for little hands to hold and explore while they are looking at an object. Enjoy your time interacting with the children! It is your opportunity to learn from them as much as they are learning from you!
Here are a few images from their unit comparing the movement of birds and fish:
Meredith began their lesson by passing out different stuffed birds for the group to hold and explore. They then headed straight to The National Museum of Natural History to see the “Once There Were Billions: Vanished Birds of North America” (http://bit.ly/16SbzAu).
After nap, the children gathered to read the Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle. Meredith had printed and laminated images from the book to give the children something to interact with during the story.
This class had an awesome time learning about how things move! Be sure to check back for our Teacher Feature next week!