Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What's that sound?

Often when we are outside then children are very aware of the nuances in our outdoor environment. This something that I have fostered from infancy and the first times we ever went outside. Their eyes would focus on a bird flying by, they would deeply inhale when the wind blew on their face or they would startle as a loud truck drove  by.

With each tiny way they would react to their environment I would label it:
"You saw the bird fly into the tree!"
"The wind is blowing!  I wonder how it feels on your face."
"You heard a loud sound.  It was a truck?"

This statements give labels to what the children are hearing, while regulating the fact that our outdoor environment is ever changing and full of life noises, movement and textures.

Today we heard then call of a flicker. It is a common bird that lives in the neighborhood, and as spring is approaching the males are beginning to call for their mates. We often identify things by their sounds, including pigeons and crows, so today I drew everyone's attention to the sound. 

"Oh listen!  Do you hear that sound?" 

Everyone pauses.

"Its a flicker. Its a kind of bird. That sound means it's calling for another flicker. It is high up in that tree over there. We can't see it. But we can hear it. Its a flicker.". 

My goal is to keep the facts simple, concise, and few. That way the children are able to focus and retain the new information I am offering and be able build upon it later. Usually I would stop with these few tidbits of knowledge (bird called flicker, calling for friends, high in a tree) but I had this gut feeling that I wanted to cement this information using another sensory input. Toddlers and all children under 6 are highly sensorial learners, so I did a quick image search on my phone for a flicker.  Now typically my phone is only used for documentation purposes: taking pictures , writing a quick note, put quickly away when it's noticed by a child.  Today I said, "I want to show you a picture of a flicker. I'm going to look it up."  I took a moment and then showed them a picture. 

They quickly crowded around quietly looking at the picture as I repeated what I said earlier. Then I put my phone away and everyone moved on to their next thing. Later we talked about the flicker again, but I didn't show them the picture. I wanted them to hold the picture in their head so they can remember back and so that we did not rely on the convenience of the phone picture. 

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