Saturday, April 24, 2010

Teachable Moments by Renee Armstead-Johnson

This guest post is by preschool/prekindergarten teacher, Renee Armstead Johnson. Renee has been teaching preschool for over fifteen years!

Springtime is officially here and there are many wonderful ways to identify its presence. Our class recently went on a nature walk to observe the signs of spring. Some children observed the trees blooming, others saw butterflies, and we even found a few worms. One child commented that the worm looked like a caterpillar. So a teachable moment was born.

First, we discussed the similarities and differences between worms and caterpillars. We listed our observations on a chart. Shortly after this discussion, our Parent Committee donated butterfly gardens and Painted Lady Butterfly larvae to our classroom and this just made the children's interest grow even more! We collected and read many books about butterflies such as:

The children were then inspired to create their own predictable books about butterflies. They spent a great deal of time observing the caterpillar larvae. They really enjoy using the magnifying glasses to observe the creatures and draw pictures of each stage of development. During our discussions, we also learned the differences between moths and caterpillars!

The children are most proud of their new vocabulary: larvae, molt, chrysalis, metamorphosis. They enjoy explaining the stages of development to visitors who enter our classroom. They also began to spontaneously use materials that were in the art area to create butterflies: toilet paper tubes, scraps of paper, wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, crayons, paint, markers, and glue.

Although this "unit" was not the original theme I had planned, it is a perfect example of how children can guide curriculum. Teachers just have to be willing to make every moment a teachable moment!

More Butterfly Links:

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