Veggie detectives at the ELC

The Pre-K classes at the ELC have been learning about plants.  One class recently became “Veggie Detectives” and creatively incorporated the Design Thinking steps into their plant study. The teachers tapped into the students’ prior knowledge about vegetables and brainstormed a LONG list of everything they knew. Then they got out their magnifying glasses and became Veggie Detectives during every lunchtime. They would discuss the veggies, look up unknown information on the iPad and then take pictures to be displayed on their Above the Ground/Below the Ground bulletin board.

All this exposure to veggies gave the children the idea to make a Pre-K garden display, where they created a wide variety of vegetables using a range of art supplies. As the culmination, we made delicious veggie soup with the children. Even though they have moved on to another unit of study, the veggie conversations still continue, which shows just how powerful the learning was for this Pre-K class.

Another class also immersed the children with information about plants, specifically vegetables. Using their sweet potato digging field trip as a starting point, they discussed where vegetables come from and how they grow. After gaining a better understanding of the topic through looking at various books, discussions, and observations of actual vegetables, they posed the question, “How might we create our own ‘vegetable garden’ display?” The children brainstormed together. “We need soil. Something brown for soil.” “Blue on top because it’s the sky.” We put up some brown and blue paper as a backdrop for the garden. Then the kids got to work making their vegetables. They experimented with various art materials until they found the ones that best suited the making of their vegetable, then they put it on display on the class garden. “I’m making the stem first, then the branches, then the tomatoes. Just like how it grows!” said one boy as he spent 3 days completing his vegetable. The rest of us watched as his plant grew, just as a real one would.

We also discussed changing our “house” area into something, now that we were vegetable experts. Someone suggested a grocery store. Another suggested a restaurant. Over a few days, various groups of children went into the dramatic play “house” area and the transformation began. “How might we change the house into a restaurant?” The children decided we needed menus, so they got busy making them. There was only one chef’s hat in the dress up clothes, so others made their own “because big restaurants have lots of cooks”. Others made a sign so everyone knew that it was a restaurant. Now, if you go into the dramatic play area, you will be seated at a table, someone will come and take your order, then holler at the cooks in the kitchen to “hurry because the customer is really really hungry!”  (Julianne, Maki, Leila and Deel, Pre-K teachers)