Constructing knowledge together
“Interaction among children brings social, communicative, and cognitive aspects into play. The variables of the content and form of the interactive processes shape the quality and quantity of the development, modification, and coordination of different points of view, leading to solutions that children working in isolation would not reach.” Loris Malaguzzi
Continued exchange and observations when working in small or large group settings provide the opportunity for the children to construct knowledge in a collaborative way. Today we would like to highlight a couple examples during which we have observed the children sharing ideas, building on each other's discoveries and creating knowledge together through exchange.
While working on clay slabs in the outdoor classroom, Lily, Jade and Finlay collaborated on creating certain shapes (tents, swirls or marks) in their work. Often these exchanges also happen nonverbal, through observation and imitation.
What treat do we want to make for the birthday celebration?
The St. John's birthday celebration is coming closer and the "treat" birthday committee is beginning its work. In a small group meeting the children debated their plan for the next days.
What do we want to make? What should it taste like? What will is look like?
During these exchanges, the children share their ideas and provide reasons for their decisions, compare their ideas, negotiate and respect and accept differences. Often they draw from and reflect on previous experiences (at home or at school) and connect them in a new context. The process of small group dialogues requires the children to practice being present in the moment and actively listening to their friends and flexibility and adaptability when making a group decision. A large focus in our classroom is to build and strengthen relationships that foster trust and self confidence to share freely in a group setting. Knowing their ideas will be respected and taken seriously, the children are encouraged and motivated to explore their unique way of expressing themselves.
During the committee's conversation, Saul, Cate, Remy, Lucas, Cape and Wilder collaborated on deciding on the cake's decorations:
The icing has to be rainbow colored. - Lucas
I have a great idea! We can make a rainbow skeleton on the cake! - Saul
No, a rainbow cake. How about rainbow hearts? It's because all of those things the skeleton has and it's hard to make the shape. - Cate
I think it's not hard at all. - Saul
I think the school maybe does not like a skeleton. - Wilder
Cate, you know what, the skeleton will be a little bit more medium size. You know, we'll put it on ... - Saul
No, but the table is gonna be white and we won't see the skeleton on the table when we make it. - Cate
We're gonna make it rainbow, so we can see it better. - Saul
And it's gonna be high. - Remy
And it's gonna be high. - Saul
Should we do it a blue skeleton and a rainbow skeleton and a pink skeleton? - Cate
Good idea, Cate! - Remy
Good idea, Cate! - Saul
You paint the skeleton. - Remy
No. Paint isn't even frosting. - Wilder
I know! I can eat paint! - Remy
We have to do yellow frosting, green frosting. - Wilder
I painted on paper. I painted with frosting on cookies and cake and cupcakes and brownies. - Cate
What tool did you use? A paint brush? - Ines
Yes. - Cate
I know food coloring can work on cookies because I have done that before. - Cape
That's why it's called food coloring. - Remy
I just made cookies and then I painted them. I painted with the food coloring. After they were baked. - Cape
I have ate a fluffy cake before. It was so fluffy! - Wilder
We can do the trick I use! Where I put like the (*inaudible*) to hole on to the plastic bag and then put the icing in and then close the plastic bag and then squeeze it out. - Lucas
And that's how you can draw with frosting and icing? - Ines
Yeah! - Lucas
The group responded with great excitement and support for Lucas's idea:
How can we decide what flavor to use for the cake?
The group decided to "take a tally" by asking everyone in the class about their preference.
The final count was 8 votes for VANILLA and 9 votes for CHOCOLATE.
The committee will continue their work in the upcoming days and we are looking forward to enjoying this special treat together on Friday.