Natural Materials provoke Memories of the Toronto Zoo

O.G. was working hard in the Discovery Center one morning.  I approached her and asked her what she was doing.

O.G.:  These are the babies swimming in the pool and the adults are standing all around.  There are lots of people waiting to have a turn in the pool because it’s busy.

(There is a repeating pattern happening on the round wood segments…2 seashells, 2 pointy seashells and 2 smooth rocks…She tells me that these are all the people waiting to go into the water park.)

Mrs. Thall:  Do you have a name for this project?

O.G.:  Toronto

Mrs. Thall:  Why did you choose that name?

O.G.:  Because I went to the Toronto Zoo and swam without a lifejacket.  The babies in the middle are wearing lifejackets.  The brown jewels are mommies and the green ones are daddies.

O.G.:  The seashells and rocks on the wood are more people waiting their turn.

At some point, L.K. joins into the play at the Discovery Center so O.G. decides that it is important to put his name on the title page.  She wasn’t sure how to spell his name so he patiently helps her.

L.K.:  Remember the “A”…It goes “up and down and across.”

During another Inquiry time, O.G. added a water slide.  She also moved around some of her materials.

O.G.:  The seashells in the middle are the kids and the acorns around the seashells are the babies.  I’m putting rocks around the outside of the pool so the babies don’t slip.  I remember the floor being very slippery!

J.C.P.:  That is beautiful.  I’m going to draw this.  I like your project.

The next day,  I printed off a map of the Toronto Zoo for O.G.  She decided after looking at the map that she wanted to add some animals.

She organized all the animals in their own area.  She created a pond in the middle of the zoo for the boats and the ducks.  She also created a Bat Cave for the bats.

T.G.W. came over and was inspired to sketch what she saw.

After about the 4th day of the “Toronto Zoo” project, E.D. came over and decided that he wanted to write a list of the animals he saw.

At this point, the children knew that O.G. was in charge of this project so if they wanted to play at the Discovery Center, they had to ask her how they could contribute or offer ideas of their own.

M.A. thought it might be a good idea to create a checklist for the animals to make sure they are always ok.

This checklist inspired L.K. to make one of his own for the sheep.

The “NO” sign was made to remind friends not to remove materials from the project.

The children were so engaged at the Discovery Center all week.  O.G. was a frequent visitor.  Although she owned this project as her idea, she was very accepting of others ideas and enjoyed when other friends came to play.  It was amazing how this project provoked other children to tell stories and was an invitation for writing all on its own.  An interesting example of the many ways children learn as part of a group.

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