Thursday, 29 October 2020

Sharing a Shell

 When a tray of shells in Discovery Time becomes an investigation...

One morning, when the Autahi children came to school, they found a tray of shells on the blue table.

Sometimes Carl and Beth put things on the blue table for children to explore, but nobody finds them all that interesting. And that's okay. But this time, a lot of people got quite excited. They enjoyed the shapes and colours of the shells and used magnifying glasses to look at them more closely. They recognised some of them from the beach, but weren't sure how they got there or how they were made.

Soon, lots of questions were bubbling up. We decided to collect all our questions so that we could investigate them some more.

We began reading some stories and information pamphlets about shells.

Some of us enjoyed sorting the shells into groups. We also tried estimating how many shells we had in our collection.

Lots of us were interested in what kinds of creatures live in shells. We did some drawings of our ideas.

And then we had a go at choosing a shell and making the creature that might live inside out of playdough. Here are some of our ideas. We made snails, fish, worms, mussels and kina.

Making these models helped us to think more deeply about how creatures use shells and also what the creatures look like. It also helped Carl and Beth to understand more about how the Autahi children see the world, and what they know about shells, sea creatures and their habitats.

We finished up the week by returning to our question about where these shells come from. Why are they on the beach? Some children had been doing some talking and thinking at home, too, and had some new ideas. One of our learners suggested that they could be 'abandoned' shells (what a great word!). So - who abandoned them? And is it okay to take an abandoned shell from the beach?

As you can see, we have many more question to explore. We will continue investigating, guided by Autahi's inquiring minds. In 'The Power of Inquiry', Kath Murdoch writes that pursuing a spontaneous inquiry can be 'exhilarating for teachers and students alike'. We treasure that excitement and sense of discovery. At the same time, we are looking for ways to guide our learners 'beyond the facts and towards concepts', connecting to big ideas, such as ecology and sustainability.

Look out for more developments in future Blogs, and ask your child about our inquiry.

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