Learning about measurement while in the forest

“It is long like three [of] my feet, wide as two pinecones and is a cylinder” A child tells the group on the walk down to our site. “A stick of course” another child answers. “No” the child says, “It is bigger than a stick, it is a branch!” the first child answers. We have been exploring what shapes are in nature and have noticed when we play shape eye spy that the easiest to find are cylinders. We also have been exploring how to measure objects. Some examples of how we are doing this include: comparing stick lengths, measuring who is the tallest child, discovering how many children long a branch is, deciding how many children it takes to measure around a tree, and how many pinecones it takes to measure a stick. All of this is done mostly on our walk down, woven in to conversations, dramatic play and demonstrations by both educators and learners. They are estimating and guessing how long an object is, and then testing out their measuring tools to see how close they are. We have also been taking down a thermometer and been checking the temperature, comparing which days have colder, guessing what the temperature is, as well as comparing how the temperature differs from the classroom and the forest, and the forest and the playground.

This play is very much continued in the classroom in the afternoon. At quiet time, or centers you can see the children experimenting with many types of shapes, from building cubes with stick connecting toys, to creating with tree blocks. They are noticing both inside and out, different shapes that make up the environments around them.

(Written by ECE Erin Van Stone)

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