Wind Week I is the first of two Science-based weeks that will provide the children with daily opportunities to explore and experiment with the concept of Wind. We began with a group conversation that yielded our working definition; "wind is air that is moving". Next we talked about our own wind power, and moved on to exploring hand-held and electric fans.
As the photos illustrate, we continued moving air and creating wind all week long! We blew our wind through a straw and predicted which objects we would be able to move off the block.
Perhaps the most fun of all was using our wind power to blow bubbles at the water table all week long!
Looking Deeper: Exploration and Learning through Play
Let's take a closer look at the practice of "drawing on the children's prior knowledge"
as a vehicle for building an understanding of new concepts.
Drawing on a child's prior knowledge is an excellent teaching technique for building an understanding of new concepts. As our school year has progressed and we have moved through our various themes the children have routinely used information to develop concepts. This was very evident during our Doctor Theme as the children were able to both comprehend and explain in basic terms the function of their brain, heart and lungs. This week, we "drew on that prior knowledge" as we began our conversation about "Wind". As I mentioned, we began with the working definition that wind is air that is moving. That definition was illustrated and made concrete to the children when they actually moved air and created wind in a variety of ways. We began with our breath. I asked the children; "Who remembers what part of our body breathes air in and out?" They were all able to draw on their prior knowledge and respond, "our lungs!" I continued; "Let's take some air from the room, put it in our lungs, then move it very fast out of our mouths and see if we can make some wind!" The children were excited to do so. The next step was to see if we could move things with the "wind power" created by our lungs and breath. We began with pinwheels, and then moved on to a wide variety of other objects throughout the week. Drawing on the children's prior knowledge to begin our study of wind, enabled them to transfer an understood concept about their lungs and use it to illustrate an abstract concept such as wind in very concrete way. An exercise such as this not only gives evidence of learning, but it also expands upon and gives an important function to that learning. Furthermore, it expands the depth, breadth and creativity of the children's higher level thinking skills!