Monday, September 9, 2013

B is for Brains

Why Brains?
Some children have been really interested in the Body Book in the classroom.
I asked them if they were interested in doing some research with me about the body, and if so, which part.  The resounding answer was the Brain!!!

How Did I Invite Them?
B for Brains group ticket invitation.
I took some tickets and a sharpie outside.  I quietly walked up to the children who had previously shown interest, and I whispered, while writing a B on the ticket, "Are you interested in coming to do some research in the B for Brains group?  Yes?  Here's a B for Brains ticket!  You can take it over to the gate and wait for the others!"

How Did I Set Up the Group Area?
I purchased a 3D brain model and put it in the middle of the table.  I brought paper and sharpies for everyone (myself included).

What Was My Goal for the Group Time?
Since this was our first meeting, I wanted to suss out
a.  Interest level
b.  Current knowledge
c.  Current wonderings.

So What Did We Do?
Everyone excited sat down at the table and started to take apart the 3D model.  I listened and intended to notice comments that helped me with my goals (above).

G observes,"There's lots of parts!"
W asks, "Is this the part that jumps?"
I repeat, "Ooooh!  G says there are a lot of parts to the brain!  W wants to know if your brain can jump!  Let me write that down."  I talk out loud as I write, "Can your brain jump?" 

I offer up paper and pens to draw what they see.  I continue to listen and notice comments, questions, and observations.  Sometimes I repeat back what they say while I'm writing it down, and sometimes it seems like that might distract from the conversation, so I just write and listen. 

W:  "If you're only my age, your brain looks like this.  If you're a different age, it looks different.  I feel different than all the other people because I don't know what my body is doing right now, and this is my brain when it's troubled."
T:  "Yeah, I'm drawing an elaborate brain, with lightening in it.  That's the trouble."
Later, W:  "Now lemme show you when the brain is happy!"

G bonks his forehead with his hand:  "I feel something hard on my head!"
I grab the opportunity and join:  "Hey!  I'm feeling my head, and it feels hard too!"
Everyone bonks their noggins.  Everyone agrees:  Their head is hard.
Me:  "So everyone has a hard bone around their head!  When I did research about brains, I read that this bone is called a skull."
M:  "Yeah, my skull is hard.  But my brain is soft and kind of pinkish."
Me:  "M says that her skull is hard and her brain is soft!  What do you all think about that?"
G:  "Yeah, my brain is soft."
I talk as I write:  "Ok, so M and G think that skulls are hard and brains are soft.  What about you guys, W and T? Yes?  Ok, so everyone thinks that skulls are hard and brains are soft."
I offer:  "When I was doing research, I read that your skull protects your brain."
M:  "Yeah!  If your brain gets hurt, you have to go to the doctor!"

When I sense a lull in the conversation, I offer, "If anyone is interested, you could write a B for brain on your paper.  I draw a B like this, with a line going down..."
M:  "Yeah!  I can do a B like this!"
G:  "Well, I don't know how to do a B."
W:  "I can show you!  It goes like this:  a line down, and two circles, like this!"  Everyone watches carefully.
G draws a line down.  He does the top part, like a P, and the bottom part is a little askew and not quite touching the line.
M:  "That doesn't look like a B."
Me:  "Everyone's learning how to write Bs, and it's really neat that we each get to learn in our own way.  Right now, that's what G's B looks like!"
Brains and Bs!

And To Finish It Up?
M asks what they should do with their papers and tickets.  I reply, "Well, I was thinking you might want to take them home to share with your families!  I bet they'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on brains.  After you put your pens back inside the jar, you can choose to put them on the coat cubbies or the inside cubbies."  Everyone quickly puts their pens away and starts to head towards the cubbies.  M asks, "Do we get to do this again tomorrow?"  "Yep," I say, "Most definitely."
W's B and brain when it's happy.

A Few of My Reflections
These children already know and think a lot about brains!  They see the brain as
*  a physical part of their body that needs to be protected
*  something that changes over time (depending on age)
*  something that changes depending on your emotions
*  something that is complex [elaborate!!!]

1 comment:

  1. Love this!! Your activity has inspired me to incorporate it into my own curriculum. In my preschool classroom, we've been talking a lot about taking care of our brains, how we need oxygen and water to keep our brains healthy, etc. I think a 3D model would be very interesting for the kids to see. I'll also incorporate the interaction and observations to enrich the children's (as well as my own!) learning experiences.