By the time children reach the Adventurers and Voyagers Rooms, they can pursue an idea that interests them for weeks and even months at a time. When teachers follow the children’s interests and develop connected learning experiences over this amount of time, “it shows respect for children’s learning and helps children know that their teachers see their ideas as important,” says Director of Primary School Stefania Rubino. This, in turn, deepens children’s engagement and increases the opportunities for learning even further.
These are some of the ways children engaged in their study of the ocean:
- In the art studio, the Voyagers began building their submarine, and the Adventurers began their boat with the help of Art Teacher Mario Argueta.
- In science class with Stefania, children conducted sink or float experiments with salt and fresh water, as well as ocean current experiments that demonstrated what happens when bodies of warm and cold water meet. They studied the zones of the ocean and the creatures that live in each one.
- Children moved like the turtles and dolphins they were studying with Dance Teacher Elly Porter.
Teachers Nuria Rodriguez and Drew Spriggs set up an ocean-themed story table in the Voyagers Room, and children used props on the table to tell stories about ocean voyages. Non-fiction books about ocean creatures became the most popular books in the basket—along with fiction favorite, Larry Gets Lost Under the Sea.
Hypothesizing, measuring, analyzing cause and effect, careful observation, communication, collaboration, storytelling, group decision-making—these are just a few of the skills that children developed during their investigation of the ocean. Puzzlement, confusion, wonder, and joy were also a part of the ocean explorations. When Stefania dropped a button into fresh water and it sank, and then dropped a button into salt water and it floated, one child exclaimed, “Oh my gosh, it’s almost like magic!” Not every child agreed. “What else could it be?” Stefania asked. “What is different?” Other ideas were considered. “Could it be the salt?” Maybe.