This week my class began our Tree PBL.  PBL (Project Based Learning) is all about voice and choice and giving kids a chance to express what they’d like to do with their learning.  We have finished our Butterfly project (we still are waiting for a few to emerge from their chrysalises, and patience doesn’t come in spades in kindergarten, but I digress…) and I went ahead and took down the inflatable models of each stage of the butterfly life cycle.

I hung each of these from one table and it was a simple way to help the kids understand the stages and also an easy way for me to call or dismiss tables (‘If you sit at the Egg Table, please push your chairs in and come to the carpet.’).  With these missing, the kids took notice quickly.

As we began our Tree Project, it only took a few days for someone to ask, “Why don’t we have models of the tree parts above our tables?”

The truth is, they don’t make them.  That’s what I told them.

“Of course, we could make our own,” I suggested.

With that, they were off.  Under the artistic direction of Ms. Cabot, my amazing ed tech, the kids began brainstorming ideas for each part we needed to represent: roots, trunk, bark, branches, leaves, blossoms, and fruit.

They first made design sketches and then turned their designs into realistic models.  I made the labels, that’s it – the kids did the rest.  About half way through the week and process, Ms. Cabot warned me, “They’re going to look like five-year-olds made them.”

“Perfect,” I replied.

And finally, on Friday, they were ready to be hoisted up, one above each table.  The kids were delighted to see their work represented in such an important and meaningful way.  I was equally pleased to use the models to invite them to get their snack – “If you sit at the trunk and bark table!”

Sometimes, if you let the children navigate their own ship you’ll be amazed at where you end up.

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