Friday, November 26, 2010

Marble & Ball Mazes

The critical thinking that was happening in the classroom this week was incredible.

 As an extension to the activity of putting marbles through paper towel tubes and cove molding, we put out several different kinds of small balls and marbles on  a tray.  We used ping pong balls, small wiffle balls and golf balls.

We then closed up the regular blocks and featured the Kapla blocks;smaller, uniform rectangles.
We also put out pieces of poster board on the carpet to act as work spaces for the children and provide a smoother surface.

At group time on Monday, we discussed what a maze is.  Several of the children had experience with a corn maze and some had seen them in puzzle books.  We let them know that the materials would be available for them to create their own mazes and see how the different balls and marbles would go through the mazes.  Then we let them play!

The results were fantastic.  We saw children working both alone and cooperatively.  They were making hypothesis of what would happen when they tried the balls through their structures, testing them, and making changes.  They were solving problems in many different ways; when walls would fall down, or the ball would get stuck.

An example of this can be seen here.  These two girls tried to make a ramp and a covered bridge.  When they tested the ball going through the building, it did not work.  They analyzed it and realized the roof had to be higher, leading them to make the changes seen below.
The higher level thinking skills that were being utilized by these four year olds while engaged in this block play were extensive.

This is truly playfully learning.

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