Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Friend's Class

This is the class, based on another program, that got me started on this blog.  It's our third meeting, though only a handful of us have made it to all three so far.  This is the older group after collecting specimens.

So far in our one hour class time the kids have only had a chance to do the basic four steps.  In another week or two we plan on having them look back at their work and do some creative writing and/or drawing with their analogies.

Getting down the four-step process in this program is taking a bit of time and practice, especially for the moms trying to guide their kids.  Everyone understands examining the specimen and drawing the picture, yet I've noticed that even though the kids are looking through the loupes to examine their object, they draw them unmagnified.  I remind them to look-draw-look-draw and draw circles on their papers to represent the loupe but still they are not in the habit of drawing a magnified picture. I am going to try to cover the specimen somehow so the only way they can look at it when drawing is to look through the loupe, similar to drawing from a microscope.

Making analogies is a skill that requires a bit of work for most.  My first "rule" is that they cannot make an analogy to another related item, so if they are looking at a plant, no plant analogies; if they are looking at a rock, no rock analogies.  While they are valid analogies, my kids were stuck on them and couldn't come up with anything else.  Once I made the rule they began to think in novel ways.

If they are having a really hard time getting started, I ask them to write a list of adjectives to describe the object.  Next I'll pick two or three and ask, "What else is oval, brown, and hard?"  What else has something long and thin attached to it?

Usually they want to get started drawing before they think about the analogies.  While I see nothing wrong with doing that, many of the kids get a sense they are "done" when they finish drawing and spend less time on the analogies and hypotheses.  Until they are comfortable doing the whole process, I save the drawing until the end.

The greatest appeal, especially for the boys and the younger kids, is just being outside and playing rather than doing a structured nature study.  I'm still wondering how to overcome that allure!


  1. Hi Kris,

    Thanks for the tips. We will probably do our "Signs of Spring" in the next day or so and I am going to try having the boys make their analogies first, as you suggested.

    I don't know if this is the best idea, but to make things easier for myself, I made a worksheet for them to use. There is a title line at the top, then a big circle, then some lines for analogies, other lines for "why?" and then lines on the back of their sheet for their creative writing. (Maybe I'll have to move the analogies to the top of the page as a visual cue that that has to be done first.)

    Thanks for creating this resource!

  2. As a starter, to get them thinking of analogies for their objects as they appear in the loupes, why not have them write cinquain poems? They can look at all the descriptive words in their poems and ask themselves "what else is like this?" Love this concept, and just bought various loupes from Amazon! Jamie

  3. Sarah, that's a great idea! To this point we have folded the long edge of an 8.5 x 11 paper to make a booklet. I draw the circle on the front, write the analogies on the inside of one half and the hypotheses on the other half. The back is for their writing. Making a notebooking page of that is a fabulous idea!

  4. Jamie, I was hitherto unfamiliar with cinquain poetry. You are so right in how well that form fits into this investigation and I love exploring a new poetry form!!! Another fabulous idea that I will bring to the class and use in our own investigations.