Tree blocks are all the rage right now in reggio-inspired classrooms and outdoor learning environments. Some children in our class had chosen to explore a provocation, “Can you build a structure and trace it’s shadow?”. One child sat up straight and ran to get paper to try it outside. Our early years team celebrated their thinking and tried to support their learning as best we could. We have mural paper handy by the door for outdoor collaborative art, so the children grabbed that and began designing their work space. It was only one child that quietly initiated this effort, but others heard murmurings and started to inquire what was happening.
We love allowing children opportunities to be leaders and differed all the questions to the “project leader”. The “project leader” in our class is an individual who comes up with a wondering, inquiry question, provocation, invitation to learn, and/or project, that one or more individuals would like to explore. This idea is their pursuit of knowledge and their turn to share their thinking and spear-head the collaboration. The children listened to their new leader and made suggestions as to how they could help and expand the thinking. Together the children developed their own learning provocation. Some children may decide they want to explore something similar and off they go.
We enjoyed this outdoor invitation to learn so much that we shared it at our boards, TLDSB(Trillium Lakelands District School Board), Take Me Outside to Learn conference in the May of 2015. Educators and children all shared in this learning opportunity that lends itself to STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), art, problem-solving and collaboration. Some individuals wanted to build their tree block structures on the pavement and use chalk to trace while others were interested in using mural paper.