“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” Chinese Proverb
This is the mantra of high quality early childhood programs. Children learn best when they are part of the process through hands-on opportunities and experiences.
This idea is the focus of GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) Studies.These guides are part of Lawrence Hall of Science's curriculum (the public science education center at the University of Science at Berkeley, CA). You can go through a GEMS training and then check out the kits, but even if you don't have access to the kits, you can still purchase the guides and use them effectively. More info can be found at www.lhsgems.org.
We began with a discussion of what the children knew (or thought they knew) about elephants. During the course of the week, we were able to confirm or modify our facts. We also did some still life art by observing elephant models. One friend created her own "elephant dance". We learned how elephants use their ears and made our own headbands complete with elephant ears.
One the second day we learned about elephant tusks and their trunk. We compared how long our preschool friends were compared to actual tusk size. We learned that female elephants can have tusks up to 5 feet long and male elephants can have tusks up to 8 feet long. Wow!!
|We made elephant puppets out of paper plates |
and used our arms as the elephant trunk.
|We did role-play to learn several ways |
they use their trunks.
On the third day we compared preschool friends' feet to the size of an adult, teen, and baby elephant and we estimated how many chips it would take to fill each footprint size.
We viewed a foam-board model of a life-size newborn elephant. Many friends were shocked that a newborn could be so big.
|We read the story of Seven Blind Mice|
accompanied with a flannel board story where
we turned one piece at a time to see what
each blind mouse was examining.
|We learned about how elephants use|
mud as a sunscreen to protect their
skin. We mixed up some and applied
it on them, leaving them to dry.
We worked on still life painting again, but this time with an easel versus the flat surface we used earlier in the week. We used paint this time instead of the pencils and crayons. We also discussed how we "made" grey paint by mixing the black and white paint together to make a tint. This friend's close observance of the details of the face was pretty amazing.