Since we began working with NoTosh on Design Thinking, the Kindergarten team at the ELC worked on an innovative way to present and explore our unit on insects. Our kids don’t need much coaxing to get REALLY excited about insects but we did want to reexamine how to explore the essential questions and objectives of the unit with more depth, creativity and meaning for the children.
One thing that stood out from our workshops with NoTosh was the idea that sometimes the “big finale” can be moved to the beginning or mid-way through a project. So this is exactly what we did—we focused on the concept of insects as superheroes and saviours of our world with amazing traits. We began the unpacking of this concept through the dramatic appearance of an insect superhero on our classroom wall. This instantly sparked curiosity, creativity and questions about why insects were superheroes amongst the children including their amazing “super powers” and their role in sustaining and saving our earth.We saw children connecting prior knowledge and information in their discussion, and later when we were observing a real stag beetle that a child had brought in, the discussion on its super strengths and powers continued.
The students used books at home and school as well as the internet to research and find more information about a particular insect of interest. They utilized this information by working in pairs and created a super hero insect in the classroom using recyclable trash.
Our discussion turned to how spiders are also superheroes, but that to an insect they would be the “bad guy” or villain (predator). We followed this with a tea party, based on the book Miss Spider’s Tea Party. The students made spider headbands and invited their insects they made out of clay. Before the students devoured the refreshments, each student stood up and introduced their guest by talking about the insect they made out of clay.
We concluded with a puppet show to present all that the children have learned about superhero insects. They generated the stories, which included facts such as ‘only girl bees sting’ and “I am a princess butterfly. I am a superhero because I carry pollen.” And “I am ladybug superhero aphid eater! The farmers like me.”
The children also created their puppet stage, complete with origami flowers and insects, a bee hive hanging from a tree, and many flowers for the pollinators. Our puppet shows were performed for classmates (the other Kindergarten classes, Pre-K classes and Nursery classes). The puppet shows were both charming and informative, full of insect friendships and fun facts the children have learned. The presenters received great positive comments by the audience. (Virginia Toppino, Wendy Rathgeber and Barbara Sale, Kindergarten Teachers)