It’s one thing saying children learn through play, but it’s another thing trusting it. We’re compelled to look for the evidence. The evidence is right there. All we need to do is look.
One purpose of documenting children’s learning is to be able to capture the progress in children learning. The word progress can be defined as ‘the forward or onward movement toward a destination’. So with that definition in mind we have to think about what is the destination we are moving towards?
Te Whāriki aspiration provides us with that destination
” … that all children will grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging, secure in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.”
Te Whāriki also provides us with the desired outcomes for our children
- Mana atua = I have power over myself. I know my own strengths. I value my whakapapa.
- Mana reo = I share my views. I ask for what I need. I express my ideas.
- Mana auturoa = I explore the bigger world.
- Mana tangata I take care of others. I take leadership.
- Mana whenua = This place is my turangawaewae. I join in.
Margaret Carr developed a notion of progress here as the ABCD framework – where the measure of progress involves four key elements – agency, breadth, continuity and distribution.
We can also think of progress in terms of learner identity and dispositions. We know children make progress when they
- Stick at it longer
- Become more adventurous with it
- Master it
- Become an expert in it
- Teach it to others
Learning stories provide us a powerful tool to capture this learning. A learning story generally captures a moment in time to illustrate the child’s learning. A learning story can also capture a child’s learning over a longer period of time – this will provide a holistic picture of the child as a learner. Below are three examples of what that might look like.
A progress story focusing on the sparkling moments
One of the first things we did at the beginning of our insect interest was to make a Bug Hotel. Watch out for more details in not this coming Playcentre journal but the next one!
Our wonderful co-ordinator Sarah worked with the tamariki to put together the Bug Hotel. Here are her instructions:
How to Make a Bug Hotel
Find a wooden crate or box to hold the different materials. Gather together: bundles of sticks; logs with holes drilled into the ends; dried grasses; bundles of cabbage tree leaves tied into knots; old rotted wood; bark; dried leaves in an old plant pot; or any other natural materials that you have around and think that bugs could use to hide or nest, or hibernate in over winter. Put your materials in a sheltered spot out of the rain and direct sunshine.
The tamariki check the Bug Hotel every session and when they capture bugs they deliver them to the Bug Hotel to see if they want to stay a while. We have had spiders make their webs, centipedes running in and out visiting, beetles hiding under the leaves – just to name a few of our visitors!
The Bug Hotel has stimulated some wonderful discussions amongst the tamariki and has become a really interesting part of our centre.
This is the link to the Bug Mansion that we used as inspiration (slightly bigger than ours!)
We were lucky that the Canterbury Museum had a live Monarch Butterfly exhibit during our insect study. They were happy to host our centre on a weekend so all of our whanau could come along. It was a wonderful experience for the tamariki – their faces were just filled with awe at all the butterflies crawling all over them.
Emerging into beautiful butterflies
The tamariki have all been so interested in the lifecyle of the monarch butterflies. We have made wonderful links with home learning as most children have swan plants at home. We wondered what it felt like inside a cocoon and thought that the only way to find out was to try it! We wrapped up the kids and they burst out of the cocoon as beautiful butterflies.
Planning to extend the insect interest
This a copy of the planning sheet that we used to extend the children’s interest. It was very easy to plan under these headings and we displayed this on our interest board to encourage everyone to contribute ideas and share awareness of what we were doing.
Insect boxes from Science Alive
We hired insect cases from Science Alive. These were really good value at $5 each per week. They stimulated lots of discussion and let kids have close up views of insects that are harder to see/catch and the insects at different stages of their life cycles.
We created a field journal for the tamariki to record their fantastic insect finds and encouraged them to take a photo of the insect and draw a picture of the insect. They really liked filling in their field journal after a great catch (just like Diego!).
Jessica Hey, Rolleston Playcentre