The Meadow Project

A Project by Three- , Four- , and Five-Year-Old children at Illinois Valley Community College, Oglesby, Illinois

Length of project: 6 weeks
Teachers:  Sallee Beneke, Rebecca Tonelli, and Practicum Students

Phase One—Beginning the Project

Crickets are plentiful in north central Illinois during the late summer.   One day at snack time several children began to discuss the crickets they had seen and heard recently near their houses.  The teacher asked, "I wonder where the crickets live?"  The children had many ideas which the teacher wrote on a web after snack.  The next day the teacher took them with their clipboards to visit the meadow behind the school.  There the children observed many crickets and began to make observational sketches of the meadow environment.  Many additional insects were observed.

Phase Two—Developing the Project

Many resource books were made available for research and discussion. The children visited the meadow and made many additional sketches. Butterfly wings and cicada shells were available for examination and sorting. Many parents and instructors and adult students from the neighboring auto mechanics department brought in live insects, such as katydids and walking sticks for examination. Small detailed model insects were added to the sand table and the block area. Children began to use the correct terms for parts of the insect, such as "antennae, probiscus, jumping leg." A Meadow Habitat was constructed using dried samples from the meadow. Drawings which resembled insects began to develop. The children began to compare their preferences for insects through voting. They took a similar survey of other adults in their building: students, instructors, parents, and maintenance workers. Insects were measured, sorted, and compared through graphing. The butterfly group became involved in problem solving about how to build a construction to represent a chrysalis. Butterfly finger puppets revealed their knowledge of the patterns in butterfly wings. The students generated a list of questions about butterflies and interviewed a visiting expert.

Phase Three—Concluding the Project

Children reconstructed the Meadow Habitat, this time adding child-constructed thistles, insects, etc. A mural of the meadow for display in the main campus building was painted and clay figures detailing the parts of insects were modeled. The butterfly group developed a book about butterflies. This experience was a first exposure to project work for the teacher and six early childhood practicum students. Their reflections are included the display.

Comments

This display is arranged to also show samples of the variety of ways that teachers can document children's learning. Photographs, audio and video tapes, narratives, teacher journals, records of staff dialogue, child self-reflections, statements of dispositions and group and individual products are all displayed. The display also shows how the information about the children's growth and development Is gathered from the project for the portfolio and checklists of the centers assessment system, The Work Sampling System.

This was the first exposure to project work for six practicum students: Ellen Bejster Mindy Kramer, Theresa Leifheit, Linda Peterlin, Arin Sorenson, and Robyn Tonelli Their reflections are included in the display.

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Project Summaries

Table of Contents