This blog provides an excellent opportunity not only for us to share with you, but for you to share with each other.
- How do you use our museum as a learning resource? What do you find to be best practice? Why are museum and gallery experiences important for your tamariki?
Our third story comes from Imagine Childcare Centre:
It is said that the average four year old asks hundreds of questions each day (perhaps that is just a conservative estimate!). Our own early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki says “young children are developing their awareness of themselves as learners by planning, checking, questioning, and reflecting on activities and tasks” (Ministry of Education, 1996, p.25). Recognising this here at Imagine Childcare, we have a ‘Wondering Wall’. This is where we can record children’s questions for later research, (and often we actually don’t know the answer right then and there!). The wall gives children a chance to explore, ask questions, and pursue answers to questions that really matter to them. Usually we will use the internet or books to find out the answers we need. Through this process children are building their sense of curiosity and wonderment. They are using texts to answer their own questions. They are even re-evaluating their thinking and generating new wonderings.
Recently we have had a few children with lots of questions around nature; sea life that they have heard about or seen (or in the case of one child, that their Dad sees diving), sea birds, native birds, bugs and insects, worms and so on. We have found answers in our usual places but as teachers we started ‘wondering’ ourselves if there was a way that we could connect with Te Papa and the resources and experts on hand there to continue our exploration…. This is where Rebecca Browne, Early Childhood Educator for Te Papa came in… As it is difficult for us to spontaneously travel to Te Papa being based in Petone we thought we would ask if someone could come and visit us. “Not just at the moment” said Rebecca, “but we could do a video conference via Skype?” The teaching team thought that was a great idea and the plan got put into place.
We had a great time setting up and practicing with Skype. We tested the volume of the speakers and left a video message for one of our centre managers. The children loved being able to see themselves on screen and hear their voices back. We even ‘skyped’ one of our teachers on her mobile phone and she took it around the playground so that the children could talk via video to another teacher in the office to the great delight of everyone.
Prior to our Skype conference with Rebecca and Scott, the Senior Science Educator, we viewed a video made by Rebecca and Scott featuring Sue Waugh, Senior Curator Sciences, whose specialty is sea birds. Throughout the video, featuring albatrosses, petrels, penguins, gulls and more, Sue posed questions to us and we considered our own answers. The children of course had their own questions too, some of which were answered later in the video, but those that weren’t we made a list of, so we could ask Scott and Rebecca later:
- I want to know about their beaks
- Have they got tails?
- How do they catch their food?
- What do they eat?
- Do they eat breakfast?
- Where else in the world can you find albatrosses?
- Can they talk in the water?
- How old are birds when they start to fly?
- Do they live in the snow?
- Have you seen one of those? (Albatross)
A couple of days out we skyped Rebecca and Scott to test the connection between our centre and the museum. We saw them in the Nature Place Discovery Centre. “I’ve been there!” was the amazed cry from many of the children.
Finally, 9:30 on Friday 27th of September arrived; the day of our video conference. The children seated themselves around the computer so that Scott and Rebecca could see them and everyone said hello. It was pretty special that we were getting to see inside Te Papa and it wasn’t even open to the public yet!
We then got to see lots of amazing exhibits from Te Papa both in Nature Space and the Mountains to Sea exhibit, it was just like being there and we got to have our questions about the sea birds answered, and any others that popped up straight away! The children were fascinated with how Te Papa collected the exhibits and there were lots of questions around how the various different creatures were found. The children were able to relate their experiences of visiting Te Papa to what they could see on the screen.
A few of the other highlights were:
- Getting to see the pygmy blue whale skeleton. We watched in amazement as Rebecca walked away from the camera to show the length of the giant mammal, further and further she went, and smaller and smaller she got!
- Scott and Rebecca showed us some crab, and shells. The crabs grew from tiny to absolutely huge. There was a shell so huge Scott had to hold it with two hands! One of the children asked, “What can you hear in that?” Scott reckoned that he could hear the seaside.
- The colossal squid. This superstar from Te Papa was a favourite. The children watched fascinated as Rebecca described how the squid was caught, and showed us different parts of it. Eyes as big as soccer balls!
All too soon we noticed members of the public filing in around the screen, Te Papa was now open so it was time to say goodbye. We said a big thank to Rebecca and Scott, and went off chatting animatedly about what we had seen. Later on, it became very evident that what was meant to be a ‘responding’ event to an interest of the children in nature was actually a ‘noticing’ event as more and more questions about the colossal squid started to appear on our Wondering Wall. Ah, the cycle of teaching and learning!
Thank you so much to Rebecca, Scott and Sue from Te Papa for making this all possible and giving up your valuable time to answer our questions. We are so grateful and inspired by what we have already seen and learnt, and know that our science and nature journey has really only just begun!
Nichola Kirkwood, Preschool Teacher, Imagine Childcare Centre
Check out the children’s subsequent mahi (work) as part of their new colossal squid project: