In the month of May with virtually no rainfall in the UK, it was ironic that our Reception children were learning about water. Finding ways of delivering the learning remotely was a challenge as learning about water is inevitably a hands-on experience. It has been fascinating to see how our usual classroom learning has translated into home-based activities and to see the different ways the children interpret and respond to their tasks.
We began with listening to Aesop’s Fable ‘The Crow and the Pitcher’ where the clever crow used pebbles to make the water in a jug rise high enough to drink. This led naturally to some fantastic water displacement experiments at home and the excitement in the children’s voices as water overflowed was lovely to hear. An added bonus was that we had no water to mop up at school!
Next up was another practical topic: investigating floating and sinking. Mrs Stephens had made a video testing a variety of items in the water tray at school which then inspired the children to collect items from around their homes to test. There were more than a few surprises in the eclectic range of objects they gathered! Their task was to make a boat that would carry a teaspoon and still float. It was wonderful to see how each child responded to this; some took it as an outright challenge to sink their boat – piling on as many teaspoons as they could (and indeed the whole cutlery tray on one occasion!) until it sank under the load. Another child took it a step further and tested different items to see which would hold the most teaspoons and then the most coins (possibly a pirate in the making?). Some took time and care over their boat design, painting, sticking and creating to make their boat look great as well as seaworthy.
Throughout this challenge it was wonderful to see videos of the children working, expressing their ideas and working through problems, trying different strategies if their first idea did not work. They also showed off their knowledge of the properties of the materials they were using. It was heartening to see the children learning from mistakes and understanding why their boat might have sunk. For example, the cruise ship with a swimming pool which ended up having too much water in it!
We moved on to learning about the sea, a familiar sight to all our pupils who spend time on Worthing beach in normal times when we take our learning outside of school. Here the internet did come to our rescue and the children toured the oceans using Google Earth. Some children took up the challenge of making an egg float, just by adding salt to water. Another has used the globe to teach all her toys about the oceans of the world. Next up will be sea creatures; we can’t wait to see how they explore the marine world and which creatures capture their imaginations.