Preschool students had their first experience with project work through a study all about kites. What began as a spark of curiosity blossomed into a multi-step project that gave these Little Calhouners the opportunity to make connections across various areas of study while letting their own curiosity drive their learning.
As part of a building-wide study of author Grace Lin, students in the 3’s read books such as Lin’s Kite Flying. The story proved to be a catalyst for exploration. Following the reading, these Little Calhouners began sharing stories of experiences they had flying kites and different places they had seen them. Teachers saw this shared curiosity as an opportunity to begin project work, putting kites at the center of their study.
To start, students shared all that they knew about kites, then brainstormed questions, outlining what they hoped to learn. A prime example of inquiry-based learning, teachers allowed the conversation to be guided by the preschoolers’ own questions, using what students shared to identify different areas of investigation. Together, the group explored various aspects of kites including their construction, varying styles and celebrations around the world in which they are involved. The study provided an opportunity for the students to learn about different cultural traditions and expand their vocabulary by learning the word for kite in a number of languages, including Tamil, Japanese and different Spanish dialects.
The classes found even more inspiration in their libraries. Teachers read books like Curious George Flies a Kite by Margret Rey and H.A. Rey and Catch the Wind! All About Kites by Gail Gibbons, giving Little Calhouners even more information to inspire new questions and paths of inquiry. It wasn’t long before the class was ready to use their newfound knowledge to get creative and make their own kites. The group began with simple construction, using paper plates as the body and colorful ribbons as tails. Later, the preschoolers drew from their exploration of various cultures and created their own carp kites, inspired by those found in Japan. These colorful sea creature-like kites are fashioned to look like koi fish and are often flown as part of the celebration of the Japanese national holiday Children’s Day. Little Calhouners explored their individual creativity through their detailed creations, which included a variety of colorful paper, fins and even eyes.
As the project came to a close, the students still had one experience left that they had to see through — to fly kites for themselves. With spring weather on their side, Little Calhouners trekked to Central Park to send up their kites in a fitting project finale.
The 3’s kite study gave these young students the opportunity to learn about their chosen topic in a number of unique and engaging ways. Teachers harnessed the shared interest of the group and created a study that provided opportunities for inquiry, investigation and hands-on exploration. Using their own questions to guide their work, students brought their learning to new heights.