From the Bank
Street Family Center
Teachable Moments of Spring: Growth is Universal
magic of spring can be a wonderful vehicle for teaching young
children many new concepts. With the arrival of a new season,
many preschoolers notice the changes that are occurring around
them. As the temperature rises and children bring out favorite
sundresses or pairs of shorts from the previous summer, they will
quickly realize how their bodies are changing as they grow. This
is an excellent opportunity to parallel their growth with new
growth and changes outside in nature.
In our preschool classroom we have tied the seasonal events of
springtime into our primary curriculum of “growing and changing.”
Like many families have done at home, we created a chart of the
children’s changing heights. As springtime approached we measured
the children once again and read books that discussed the concept
of planting and growing. Concurrently, we took nature walks in
the park and looked for signs of spring. As the weather warmed,
the children noticed the green sprouts pushing out of the barren
earth, and later, they noticed the formation of buds and the blossoming
of numerous brightly colored flowers. We looked at what plants
needed in order to grow and blossom, and then discussed what people
need in order to grow.
While outside walks enable children to observe the growth process,
it is important to provide the children with a sense of ownership
through direct classroom activities. The planting of seeds in
the classroom allows them to take on the role of nurturers and
see the results of their care.
When planting to teach a lesson in the classroom it is important
to sow seeds that will show rapid results to young waiting minds,
such as lima beans and mustard seeds. Children can place seeds
in wet paper towels and hang them in zip lock bags in the window.
This allows them to observe the first steps of the germination
process, and it provides immediate results. Once the seeds have
germinated, the children can transplant them into soil. In our
classroom, this activity was followed by a discussion of what
the soil provides for growing plants—why seeds can not survive
in a paper towel alone. After this discussion we placed the pots
in direct sunlight and watered them daily.
Each morning the children arrived at school and excitedly ran
to make their daily observation. “Look, something is poking through,”
remarked one child. “Hey it’s just like Jack and the Beanstalk!”
screamed another. As time progressed comments such as, “It’s getting
bigger” and “Look, at the bean plant grow,” enabled us, the teachers,
to draw parallels to the ways in which the children themselves
were growing and changing. It further provide an opportunity to
discuss the ways in which even though the plants were “getting
bigger” they still required and were supplied with love and care.
Here are some books to read in conjunction with this project:
The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss, illustrated by Crockett Johnson;
How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Johnson, illustrated by Loretta
Krupinski; and Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert.
Salz is a preschool teacher at the Bank Street Family Center
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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the publisher. © 2001.