Sunday, November 17, 2013

What we talk about in Bodies Group

Building on the brains group that Amy started, the preschoolers and I have been exploring bodies. We've been asking internal burning questions like what do we use our bodies for? How do they work? What are all the different parts? At first, I invited children to the Bodies group by simply calling out to see who was interested. As interest spread, I would go outside and call out that bodies group was now meeting. Each time, I limit the group to five or six. This helps us to be able to explore questions at a deeper level than we can in our larger group times.
Picture from a later body group on brains.

On one particular body group day, I printed a picture of a human skeleton as a provocation. I also had a long piece of paper and a tray full of crayons. I wanted to discuss a few major human bones and hoped the skeleton would stimulate more story telling and creative expression around the human body. Where the children took it was not only what I imagined but more.

Picture from a later body group on brains.
The children file in from outside with a palpable physical energy and so we begin with a movement song to help transition to sitting in a circle. I usually sing “I’ve got to shake, shake, shake my sillies out” then mellow down with a fingerplay “Grandma’s Glasses.”
I then describe what we are going to learn about.
Me: “Does anybody know what this is a picture of?
Kids: “A human” Me: “That’s right but what part of a human is showing?”
Kids: “Bones” Me: “Yeah! This is a pic of all the bones in our body. We are going to learn about some today.”
After we go over some bones everyone gets to get up and move the bone we just learned about.

Picture from a later body group on brains.
I then tell them I brought in this big piece of paper so that we can see what how big a bone would look in real life. I have these crayons so that we can trace a person and then draw inside. I ask who would like to be traced first, and M raises her hand. I inform the others that they can also have a turn next time.
As M lays down on the paper, I explain that we want to gently draw around each part of the body and connect them. Soon each child calls out what part they want to trace. After we are done, I have M get up. The children are in awe to see what they have down. All their lines (different colors) connect and look like a person. I then go over the bones.
“Does the pelvis go hear?” Or here?” “Where is the femur?”
Everyone draws in the bones as I help trace their shape. After the children ask “Can we draw in more parts in the body?” Then they begin coloring in and talking about what they see in the body.

A hand traced by a child during table provocations.
I’m as amazed as the children at the outcome. These children have so many ideas about the body. Their creative expression took our discussion in so many directions I had never imagined. The children’s thoughts about what the body looks like, what is inside us and how the body changes as we grow gave so much to our group. It was also fun, as everyone shared their silly nature and how they do things in unique ways. To continue this at home, families could sing body songs such as Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes or explore OMSI's Life Hall.

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