Rockets are big. Rockets are loud. Rockets are powerful and kind of dangerous. And when rockets are launched, people count backwards. What's not to love about that? Especially for preschoolers.
One child in my morning class has been deeply interested in rockets and the moon since the beginning of the year. His interest has now spread to the rest of the class. The children have been so interested in rolling up paper into rocket-shaped tubes that we have added a third tray to the paper shelf in the art area.
- Shelf 1 is clean, white paper that we use for drawing and coloring.
- Shelf 2 is sometimes a maze or a "coloring" sheet that has a picture of something related to an area of study in the classroom. (Some children are not interested in making marks on paper. Coloring sheets can be helpful for those who need more direction than a blank paper can offer. We never discuss coloring inside the lines.)
- Shelf 3 is paper that has been used on one side, the "recycled" paper. This is the paper that the children can use to roll, fold, cut, tape, and generally make into whatever they want it to be.
In the photo below, someone made a "Feuches Haus" (fishy's house) but lately, it's mostly been rockets.
One specialist who visits our morning class each week asked me, "Is that all they do all day? Make rockets?" Well, not EVERY day. Some days they choose other things. But they are working on something, here. Rolling a sheet of paper into a tube seems like a magic trick. It's a transformation from a flat surface that can accomplish little on its own into a structure that can roll, can fit into a smaller space, can be used as a tool, can be placed inside another shape, can even support weight as a column or pillar. There is also a joy that comes from working with your friends to make the biggest, longest, pointiest rocket-like object you can make.
Wikipedia defines engineering as, "The discipline, art, skill, profession and technology of acquiring and applying scientific,mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes."
Maria Montessori said, "Imagination does not become great until man, given the courage and strength, uses it to create. If this does not occur, the imagination addresses itself only to a spirit wandering in emptiness." - -Dr. Maria Montessori , in To Educate the Human Potential
Rolling up paper rockets is hands-on engineering practice. It seems like a waste of paper and tape to some, but not in my class.
Since Johnson Space Center and the Moon are both off limits to us for field trips this year, providing a real experience with a rocket is out of the question. So we are relying on the following storytellers to help us make the leap from the concrete objects we have not yet experienced to an abstract understanding of them.
We made these fun, cardboard tube rockets from an idea I borrowed from bhoomplay's blog.
Ours turned out great thanks to lots of help from parents. And the children showed great concentration when painting them.
We followed the children's interest in space and rockets by offering them supplies to make colorful maps of the solar system. We also had a Moon Party to celebrate all we had learned.
Those blogs will follow.
Thanks for reading and thank you to bhoomplay and all those other bloggers and pinners who help me find activities that appeal to students' interests. You all definitely rock!