Have you ever asked kindergarten students what bugs them? Well, we were on a mission to do just that and I’m pretty amazed by what they have come up with!
Over the years, my students and I have had the opportunity to work with younger students for Reading Buddies. And while it’s always great to have a chance to read to each other, I wondered if there was something more that could be done in order to foster true collaboration and maybe even a leadership role for my older students. This year, we partnered with a kindergarten class in the hopes of seeing how we might be able to engage kindergarten students in STEM activities. From building with linking cubes to creating amazing structures with straws, my students have been growing in the area of questioning and documenting the works of their buddies. They’ve learned that kindergarten students can cut in straight lines, given a bit of guidance and that with the right questions, they can have incredibly imaginative conversations.
Using the Engineering Design Process, we are currently working on creating solutions for some of the things that bug them. We started the process with a brainstorming sheet and I should have left the bugs off of the top because it quickly became that the biggest problem were bugs themselves. I need to keep in mind that kindergarten students can be literal. After some discussion, we realized that while there were many who were bugged by bugs, some found it difficult to tie their shoes or carry their backpacks. Others found it a challenge to keep their devices out of the hands of their older siblings and still others found that the blocks in Kindergarten weren’t decorative enough and were way too big.
Our next step was to use a Design Template to really identify the specifics of the bug and then to work on designing a solution, including a list of materials. After some research with their buddies, this past week, we took some time to create paper prototypes of our solutions to ensure that what we envisioned was something that we might actually be able to bring to life. It was glorious. I asked my students to really take a step back and allow for the kindergarten students to be the lead in building with paper and they rose to the occasion. From asking for rulers to create straight lines to sharing that a cube has 6 faces, the kindergartens were really excited to share what they already knew and weren’t shy to ask for a helping hand when they needed it.
Next week we are on to our build and learning about hand tool safety in kindergarten. It’s sure to be a new adventure and I can’t wait to see and share the actual solutions that they create.
In what ways are you collaborating with others in your building? Is there a way in which you might allow for greater student leadership through a similar partnership? I’m always wondering what educators are doing in their buildings to foster collaboration amongst staff and students. Let’s start a conversation and share ideas here.