The weather is warming up and the littles are so very excited to get out our portable water wall. The water wall provides amazing opportunity for open-ended exploration and problem-solving using real-life materials. Since Problem-Solving and Innovation play a significant role in Ontario’s new Kindergarten Curriculum as one of the four frames, experiences like a exploring a waterfall provide a platform for deep thinking by posing questions, making predictions, taking risks, testing theories and justifying thinking. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for children to consider the STEAM or STEM design process where they develop a plan, design, create, try-it out, and make it better.
Documenting Children’s Learning at the Water Wall
When documenting children’s learning at the water wall we consider how the children are problem-solving and encourage them to think aloud. We use a pedagogical documentation process of writing what we see and hear children do and say, name the learning, interpret and analyze the information collected with collaborators to inform next steps in learning, and make thinking and learning visible.
Questions to Promote and Extend Thinking
- How is this like something you’ve done before?
- What strategy did you use?
- What was the hardest part about…?
- What math words did you use or learn?
- What were the steps involved?
- How did you solve the problem?
- Draw a picture to show how you solved the problem.
- How did you show your thinking?
- How else could you have?
- How else might you solve the problem?
- How are these____ the same? How are they different?
- About how long?(many tall, wide, heavy, big, more, less, etc)
- What would you do if?
- What else could you have done?
- If I do this… what will happen?
- Is there any way you could….?
- Why did you?
- How did you?
- What math words help you understand/explain what you did?
- What does this remind you of?
- What are you still figuring out?
- What have you learned?
- What do you still wonder about?
- What are you picturing?
- What else would you like to learn about?
- Tell me about…
“emphasize the importance of perseverance, and encourage children to see “failures” and “mistakes” as rich learning opportunities” -Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum 2016
Evidence of Learning With the Water Wall
- Pose questions to explore
- Pose questions based on interest and/or experiences
- Pose questions to clarify or compare information
- Imagine and create something new
- Use prior knowledge to expand on ideas and create something new
- Suggest different ways to explore a problem
- Compare different ways to explore a problem
- Make predictions of what might happen
Reflect on the Process
- Identify the main steps involved
- Identify details and thinking in sequence
- Describe the thinking involved with the process
- Generalize learning from one experience to the next
Analyze and Evaluate
- Identify thinking to solve problems
- Share thinking about possible outcomes
- Reason to develop possible outcomes
- Draw conclusions
Designing A Water Wall for Children
Our early years team had researched water walls for outdoor learning for many months before settling on this design. We had previously used a chain-link fence, but when we moved schools this was not an option. Our criteria was: it needed to be portable and durable, the materials needed to be able to be secure enough but also removable by children, used from both sides, and have a space where tubs would be able to collect fallen water. This is where our community partners came in. Our little community in Dwight, ON is vibrant, rich in learning, supportive, and responsive to our needs. When we mentioned to the Dwight Lyon’s Club that we wanted a water wall they were quick to help us out. They drew up the plans with us to ensure it’s what we needed and wanted and it turned out to be an amazing learning and playful resource for the children. The wood frame with the metal fence and solid feet makes this perfect for our needs. We store it in one of our sheds over the winter.
Has your early years team explored the learning possibilities a water wall can support? What has been successful? What are you working on? What criteria did your team consider in designing your water wall?
Ontario Kindergarten Curriculum, 2016: https://files.ontario.ca/books/edu_the_kindergarten_program_english_aoda_web_oct7.pdf
Critical and Creative Thinking Continua: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/critical-and-creative-thinking/continuum#layout=columns