What surprises kids? What astonishes them and leaves them with eyes wide open and jaws dropped? Kids are amazed by the things we, the grown-ups, take for granted – bugs, scars, holes, small objects like buttons, marbles or bolts that might fill in some empty space. As if all the life’s wisdom can be found in them. Preschoolers are fascinated by things that help them generate and observe changes: to fit things together, combine, transform, and so on.
“Only the children know what they are looking for” when they cast their attention on a single object. For even though “All grown-ups were once children (…) only few of them remember it.” As a teacher of early-aged kids, you need to “remind” yourself what it means to be seeing things for the first time and what sort of questions or ideas might be popping into children’s heads.
Normally, children are introduced to the concept of pattern through shapes. If your kindergarten students are already familiar with the basic shapes – circles, squares, triangles, rectangles – now is the time to take them to the next level of discovery and fascination.
The book “Shark in the Park” represents a great tool for making the transition from circles to (circular) holes. It vividly demonstrates the distinction between the two and allows students to easily grasp the concept with the help of a creative set of tools (telescope and a mock-up of the book).
After reading the book and practicing answering the question “What do we see when we look through the hole?”, kids design their own replica of the first pages of the book. We accomplished this in three stages: first, we made the shark by gluing a balloon (not inflated) on a piece of paper and drawing its fin in the shape of a triangle; second, we decorated the cover by using different colors to draw circles around the hole; third, using a puncher, kids went through the astonishing act of making holes in the two sheets of paper in order to bind the “book” together at the very end.
Holes and Phonics
We adapted our “What’s in the box?” phonics activity by cutting a hole in a box and hiding objects or parts of objects from the book or from our activities (balloon, feather of a crow, telescope). Kids take turns looking through the hole for a few second in an effort to identify and name the object.
Making a Telescope
Even though, I had already planned on having kids make their own telescope, one of my students surprised me by inventing his own out of an origami paper. Every kid made their individual telescope out of 3 toilet paper rolls.
This activity was a great opportunity for the kids to exercise their problem-solving skills while getting in “touch” with the properties of holes firsthand: “How shall we paint the toilet paper roll without getting our hands covered in paint?” One of the kids came up with the brilliant technique of placing her fingers inside the paper roll and then covering it in paint.
Hunting Sharks in the Park
Our telescope activity culminated in an actual hunting down of sharks in the nearby park. We armed ourselves with our telescopes and ventured on a “Shark in the Park” search.
Making a Dream-catcher
We made a simple dream-catcher by lacing a paper plate and practicing skip counting.
The World of Holes
You would be amazed at the frequency with which kids will be finding or inventing (be it accidentally or purposefully) their own holes and running to you to inform you. Kids will quickly come to realize that holes can be of different shapes and not necessarily circular. As a language teacher, your task is to provide students with a reason to talk with you or with one another; that is, to give them a subject/topic to talk about.
Exploring the multitude of books with holes
Holes in Nature
We read books and talked about animals that live in holes, such as warms and ants. We paid a visit to the nearby park and investigated the holes made by ants. We were weeding our playground area and using sticks to dig holes in the ground.
Holes and Patterns
We talked more about holes while working on our hand-eye coordination and motor skills.