At our school, learning to be kind and patient is just as important as learning math and science, particularly in Kindergarten. Our teachers work to create fun ways to incorporate social-emotional learning into their daily projects in order to set a solid developmental foundation in Westside’s youngest students.
To celebrate the arrival of fall, Kindergarten studied apples! During a recent project where students learned all about apples and incorporated their apple interests into different subject areas, students were also hard at work on communication, cooperation, and trouble-shooting with each other. One of Westside’s Kindergarten teachers, Michaela, explains the project here:
Kindergarten began our unit by tasting a variety of different types of apples. After we taste-tested the apples, the kids created a bar graph of their favorite kinds. The students were able to see the data from both classes and were surprised by the similarities and differences they saw between their classmates.
The book, Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss inspired us to try out this task of stacking apples on top of each other, a STEM project that combined each area of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and as a bonus, we added literacy to the mix as well. (In this book, there are animals balancing apples on top of their heads one at a time and eventually getting up to ten apples.)
The Kindergarteners were divided into groups and given five apples to begin with. While working together in teams, they had to communicate and brainstorm with each other to figure out ways and strategies to successfully stack their apples.
Many of the groups began with just two apples and quickly figured out different ways to stack them. Some groups organized the apples by shape, keeping the larger apples on the bottom to create a base, and other groups decided to organize their apples by their shape and flipping the apples upside down, almost like they were puzzle pieces fitting together.
After some students were finding success stacking smaller groups of apples, we added five more apples for them to work with. The kids were up for it, but it proved to be quite the challenge! Many attempted the same strategies as they were before, but they were becoming frustrated as the apple stacks were tumbling over or rolling off their tables the higher they tried to stack the apples.
The teachers then introduced a small wooden dowel to use and the kids quickly began asking how to use them. We told them that they were to make stacking easier, but did not offer any additional advice or instruction. One student decided to take the wooden dowel and stick it through the apple.
This began a chain reaction and the kids started stabbing their apples with great force. Once the kids got the first apple on a dowel, it became easier and easier. Within minutes the kids had several apples on a dowel and could see the groups of five they created standing without assistance.
During this project, the kids constantly were sharing new ideas with each other and collaborating to construct and build a stable apple stack of ten. They had a blast stacking the apples and truly persevered through the challenges and frustrations as individuals and as teams.
Unfortunately and not surprisingly, most groups did not make it to ten apples up on top. The success of the project was seen in the fact that our Kindergarteners had a blast building, collaborating, constructing, and creating with each other (which was part of our plan all along.)