I Play with Nature and Multimedia

September 30, 2017

As a 21st century educator, we have the privilege of working in a time and place in which learning can truly come to life.  We can explore, document, present, and discover together.  This week, our Kindergarten class focused on using a multimedia approach to literacy instruction and exploration.  In this post, I share the process of integrating hands-on experiences with nature, and a variety of digital tools to elevate the experience and process of learning.

 

To begin the week, I gathered alphabet books, a variety of materials from nature, and additional letter manipulatives for each guided reading group.  Just as the activities were tiered to meet instructional needs, the materials were varied to give a variety of tactile and kinesthetic feedback to children.  

 

 

As I met with each group throughout the week, we began by exploring alphabet books to gather information about letters and words.  Some groups focused on identifying letter names and sounds, while others focused on the difference between letters and words, letter formation, and the ways in which we blend letter sounds together to form words.  The tactile nature of these lessons were very much inspired many of the wonderful memories I have of watching Sesame Street as a young child.  The ways in which they used materials to create short video clips to teach letters and sounds have always been a source of comfort as I think of my own childhood.  With clips like this one in mind, we began this journey in our classroom.

 

 

While using their alphabet books, children were given a natural materials, and a prepared surface to see if they could recreate and photograph a variety of upper and lowercase letters.

 

Using sticks, stones, water, and sand each group contributed photos to our class movie. Children took an areal photo of each letter they created.  Later, we used the Aviary photo editing app to crop and add filters to the photos to match the feel of our nature movie.  All photos were compiled into Animoto to create this beautiful short film created by Kindergartners. *Note: Animoto offers a wonderful free service for educators!

 

 

 

At the end of the week, the children and I reflected on the process of creating letters with objects from nature.  I told them that another teacher, Sylvia Parker (she has a wonderful blog that can be found here) recently shared with me a project from NASA in which the same types of photos were taken from space in which we are able to see the letter formations as well.  Together, we explored this site, looking for connections between the letters we had created and the images from NASA.

 

 https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/ABC/

 

We also took a look at this book to extend connections a bit closer to home.

 

 

We wondered if we would also be able to see letter formations out in our world, so as part of our literacy block, we head out to the playground with iPads in hand!  Children used Seesaw to photograph the amazing places we discovered letter formations exist around us!  They used the record and drawing tools to show their thinking.  I later downloaded each video and compiled them into iMovie to document and share the process for reflection. Here is a look at our final project that was posted as part of our weekly digital newsletter in Seesaw.

 

 

When I was little, my comforting memories of Sesame Street were based on the idea of consumption.  They provided the exploration for me, and I was allowed to peek into the world of the creators to join on the journey.  How exciting that times have changed!  What was once an experience of consumption for young children, now brings possibilities for actual participation and creation!  Through this experience, not only did we explore letters and literacy concepts, we experienced texture, music, design, and perspective.  Children learned about cropping and filters, and the effects of sunlight and shadows on how we see the world.  

 

It is a beautiful world in which we live, and I am lucky to get to experience it alongside my young learners each day.  As you choose your activities to explore in the classroom this week, stay open to possibilities of discovery, exploration, and creation on your learning journey.

 

Heart & Soul,

 

Jessica

 

 

 

 

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