With all of the gardens beginning to grow now that nice weather has finally arrived, the students in our Full Day Kindergarten class are excited about plants, both flowers and food. One of the children brought in pictures of her family’s food garden and showed it around the classroom. My teaching partner and I decided to change our dramatic play centre to a grocery store to capitalize on the students interest in the picture and how food grows.
We gathered all of the plastic food, made store signs, printed labels for shelving and went to the library to find books on the food groups. We also made up sheets for the students to print, or draw, their own grocery lists, as well as their own receipts. We set up after school, and today, we made a big “production” of opening our store. The children loved it!
Now that the children have shown interest in flowers, we decided to change our dramatic play centre from a Veterinarian’s Office to a flower store.
I went to a store and bought a few bunches of artificial flowers, a small plastic shovel, green foam blocks, and small plastic plant pots. We had some plastic containers that we could utilize as vases. I put some of our sand in a medium sized plastic dish, and added the shovel and pots to it. I set up the cash register, and made 3 signs for the windows that are in that corner of our room. I also put out a play phone that they could use to take orders.
Tomorrow, I will add a literacy centre beside the flower shop.
We just transformed our home center to what the children wanted to create – an office. It all started with one child making a laptop computer out of paper and was pretending to work on it. so we asked the children at one of our group times what they thought of creating a space for them to use their laptops in an office. They all seemed very interested so we made a list with them about what they would need to make an office.
Our home centre is now a functioning office. It contains: computer keyboards, cardboard boxes for computer screens, cordless phones and cell phones, stamps, paper, pens, clipboards, receipt books, file folders, a flie cabinet, note pads, stickynotes, business clothes, daily agendas and planning books, envelopes, etc. You name it, its in there. It is amazing how much the children are writing and sending letters to each other. It is great to see all this learning from one centre.
Two students, S1 and S2, were at the play dough centre, talking together and creating objects.
E: I like your creation. Tell me about what you are making,
S1: We’re baking cookies. Good cookies. Do you want one?
S2: I’m hungry!
E: Me too! What kind of cookies are you making?
S2: Chocolate chip! My favourite!
E: Who are you making the cookies for?
E: Everyone in our class? You are going to need some help!
S3: What are you doing?
E: I am glad you are here. S1 and S2 want to make cookies for the whole class. Can you help?
S3: Can I have the rolling pin? What size do you want?
S4: What are you doing?
E: How many are in our class?
S1: You have all of the dough.
E: How much dough do we have all together? How big are you going to make the cookies?
S4: If we use this [playdough container rim] all of the cookies can be the same.
E: How thick should the cookies be? Can you find something on the table that is the right thickness?
S2: This marker cap?
E: I think that could work. Your cookie, and this marker lid are both about 1 cm thick. S2, can you please bring over our can of rulers? How can we use a rule or a marker lid to make all of the cookies the same size?
S4: You could go like this [ S4 shows how to lie the marker lid as a non-standard measure].
S3: We have a lot of work to do!
Consider what we learned about this group of students. An activity that many would question as to its educational purpose (it does not look like an academic activity) became the catalyst for both a teaching opportunity and as assessment opportunity for mathematics. By guiding the play and the conversation, I was able to extend the mathematical thinking of this group of children and to document my observations for future analysis and evaluation.