Wednesday, June 9, 2010

From Observe to Compare

Compare is the second step of A Private Eye Nature for good reason (see The Basic Steps.) So much of what is learned and then what is created comes from this step.

The comparisons are really two-fold.  First, specimens are compared to others we've looked at, or to other parts of the same larger specimen.  During our Signs of Spring project, Ds#3 looked at a rhododendron bud and an acorn on two separate occasions.  The differences are striking since one becomes a flower while the other is a seed.  However, Ds#3 did notice something they had in common: they both sprouted or opened at the narrow end.  Most of the projects are centered around comparisons of this sort.

The second kind of comparison is through analogy.  In this case, children are comparing their specimens to other objects they have encountered in their lives.  This is often harder for younger children because of their limited experiences in this world, or for those who have trouble turning on their imagination upon request.   Good analogies are those in which the two objects have two or more features in common, and the more common features the better the analogy.  Ds#3 thought the acorn looked like a brown cat with a long, curled tail.  I though a better analogy would be a brown mouse because it also adds in smallness, and because the overall shape was more like a mouse than a cat (though I didn't suggest that to him since they were his analogies and he is just starting out.)

By looking through the loupe, children are better able to focus on details.  Drawing and comparing gives two reasons to sharpen those observations skills.  Children improve analytical skills by comparing objects; by making analogies, they improve their descriptive skills.  Together they make for a better nature writing and scientific exploration, and for a better Habit of Attention overall.

1 comment:

  1. I just love this idea of putting the observations and comparisons into words... so good.

    amy in peru