Sunday, 21 April 2013

Hello, spring!

This is the story of the provocation that arrived at our class one day, and the interesting inquiry that unfolded in the week that followed.
One day, while the afternoon class and I were outside at play in the yard, two bunches of unopened daffodils were delivered to us. I had ordered them to support the Canadian Cancer Society
daffodil campaign at our school, but had since forgot and was pleasantly surprised by the bundle.  A group of students was attracted to what I was holding, and came over immediately to explore. As we were outside, I didn't have my usual capture devices on hand (clipboard with anecdotal chart, iPad) but I remembered these three students who were interested. (Note: many initials are shared by several students in class. We have many A's, S's, E's and L's!)
N: “What is it?”
C: “I know, those are beans!”
A: “Are they celery?”

When we went inside and took a closer look at the bundled stems, some students had more ideas about them. Here are some ideas shared during our group meeting time:
Sh: “I think that it will be cabbage”.
A: “I think they are celery”.
S: “I think it is flowers”.
C: “Flowers! I think they’re flowers, too”.

During activity time, several students went to the wonder centre to use all of their senses to explore the stems. With magnifiers to look, and using their sense of smell, most students came to the same idea: flowers. They used the paper set out to record their ideas about what the flowers might look like. 

L drew a red flower. S drew a red flower, then decided against it and drew a new one. She said: “I don’t think they will look like this” (pointing to her first drawing of red flowers), “I think it is this” (pointing at a newer picture she drew of yellow flowers). I have modeled this way of thinking using the prompt: "I used to think... but now I think..." and I am always delighted when I see students adopting it for explaining their thinking.

We used our senses to explore, and revised our thinking when we looked closer. This is science in action!

The next day I discovered that the buds were beginning to show golden through the green, papery skin. I had so enjoyed the predictions and ideas from the other class, and I was sorry to see that the daffodils were beginning to look like, well, daffodils. I decided to show the students in the AM class the photo from yesterday, before showing them the actual flowers.

We talked at the carpet using our wonder prompts:
“What do you see?”
“What do you think?”
“What do you wonder?”

Using the photo, first we talked about what we could see:
R: “I see green”.
T: “I can see a bow”.
E: “I see some celery tied up”.
S: “I see celery and a rubber band”.

We talked about what we were thinking about the stems:
E: “I think it’s a vegetable”.
E: “I know! Some kind of vegetable – celery”.
J: “I think it’s a kind of vegetable that’s spicy. Some kids don’t like to eat it”.
Ms. Fynes: “Do you mean an onion?”
J: “Yes, onions!”

We talked about what we wondered:
E: “I wonder if it’s for eating or not for eating”.
T: “I wonder if it’s for eating. I wonder if it’s yucky”.
R: “I wonder if it’s healthy or not”.
S: “I wonder if birds eat it”.
J: “I wonder if it’s nutritious. That means something to make you grow”.
E: “I wonder if it’s crunchy when you bite it”.

When I brought out the stems, now becoming more golden and ready to open, everyone agreed: flowers!

Like in the PM class, some students chose to explore the daffodils more closely during activity time. They drew what they saw, or what they thought the flowers would look like when they bloomed. One student made a prediction about the type of flower it would be, and drew a picture to share with us.
J: “I think it’s going to be a sunflower”. 

 The daffodils quickly opened to reveal their ruffled trumpets and papery petals. Students continued to be interested in using their senses to explore these plants.
M: "The flowers - they opened"
Ms. Fynes: "Yes, they did"
M: "They smell good".

A small pot of planted daffodils provided a point of comparison for curious students who were using their senses of smell, touch, and sight to contrast the two bouquets. J made a discovery and came over to show me, where I was working with some students at the computer.
J: "Look! I have yellow on my fingers!"
Curious children peered at her in wonder: "What is that?" 
J: "Pollen".
The group gathered around her asked: "Where did you get it?"
J: "Come and look!". She lead the group to the flowers, and dipped her finger into the trumpets. Moments later, everyone in the group had golden fingertips. 
Ms. Fynes: "Does anyone use pollen?"
A: "Birds!"
J: "Bees!"

I love how this provocation naturally tied into other topics we were exploring (see the glass house in the bottom photo with the nests and bird skull, just out of view), and how J took a leadership role in the morning by learning about flowers and sharing her knowledge with her peers. Kindergarten truly is a place for curiosity to grow.


  1. I love how the students took their own theories and fostered a sense of natural curiousity throughout this investigation! It is truly incredible to watch them fuel their own learning and thinking and what a great provocation it was!

  2. Thank you! I have to admit, I so loved this exploration, it was hard to weed out comments but I simply couldn't include all their brilliant aha's and connections. The story did not end so abruptly!
    Yes, I agree that it is fascinating to hear their thinking, especially to hear it change and narrow in after closer examination... The science expectations from the Kindergarten program were all running through my head as I watched and listened to the students exploring all week. Proof of their understanding, through their drawings and words. Years ago I wasn't sure how to collect such rich proof of understanding during activity time (e.g., for planning, assessing, reporting purposes) but now it is just about the only way I trust to see student understanding in K. If they can explain it or show it, they've got it. If they've got it, they can share it with their peers.

  3. Thanks for sharing this provocation. I bought a pot of daffodils this week and put them out on our art table. Boy was this a hit! I have posted a blog post on my site and included some of the pics and also gave you a shout out!


  4. Oh, thank you! I'm glad they liked it too... Mine were a happy accident, as I'd forgot that I had bought them! I like when these things happen. To think, many years ago I wouldn't have known what to do with such a dramatic change in events, because I was still planning whole-group lessons and trying to keep them on track. Thank you, Kindergarten AQ's 1-3!

    Our cut flowers are now gone, after the students discovered that the cut stems had gone "slimy" and "smelly". The potted daffodils are nicely papery, brownish, and fascinating to watch as they begin to wilt and wither away. The pussy willows are amazingly long-living, leading to lots of wonder: "What's wrong with the daffodils"? I look forward to sharing your pics, and the story, with my classes. Many of the kids love hearing about what we have in common with other kindergartens around Ontario and beyond.