Play Through Exploration: A Shared Garden Experience

Making Connections

Our New Jersey and California kids share the weather with each other every day. Connecting with the same topic of the weather each day has been an ongoing connection for them since November. On Valentine’s Day, a spontaneous, yet intentional, choice was made to record in different location in New Jersey – the garden. The reason for choosing that location was because the kids had sent their California friends some friendship rocks in the mail, and were hoping for them to arrive on Valentine’s Day. The surprise about what was in the mail was kept a secret, but so much more was revealed in terms of the garden life, or lack of it in the winter, in New Jersey.

A new connection was made! The California kids had a school garden too, but the life inside of it was drastically different. Weather is more than what we see and feel in the air and sky each day. Weather is what helps to CREATE the world around us. So we (us and the kids) began to wonder more.

Teacher and Student Wonders

In our previous post we talked about Making Learning Visible Through Block Play. Discoveries through the block play fed into wonders that inspired this garden experience for our kids. A series of little events occurred through this experience and wonders continued to build. The Prezi below shows the order of events for teacher and student wonders.

Stepping out of Wonderland and Into Play

Just as there were a series of events that fed into our wonders, multiple play opportunities emerged from those wonders. Play came in the form of creation and exploration, and was even extended beyond our kindergarten classes.

Discovery and Reflection on
the Role of Technology

As we navigate the cycle of innovating play, careful consideration is given to the use of tools and role of technology in experiences. This project illustrates the use of Flipgrid and Adobe Express to guide and tell the story, and process of learning.

While we fully acknowledge the importance of the innovative tools, technology in education is NOT about the tool that is at the forefront. When technology is integrated seamlessly, it is the learning, the kids, and the story that will shine.

The story of this project is rich with discovery as it unfolds in multiple ways. As we connected, wondered, and began playing through exploration, children acquired new vocabulary and developed understanding about needs for plant survival. They discovered the ways that gardens can look different based on location, weather, and temperature.

Sensory experiences in the garden were abundant as children in California had their hands in the dirt, and in the compost. They picked vegetables and took in the sights of the garden. Learning connections were made through smells and the sounds which helped to solidify their understanding as they participated in writing to communicate their ideas. Children created through art as they painted rocks, and placed them in shared garden spaces. They developed empathy through giving, receiving, moving their learning beyond the classroom, and even beyond the grade level.

From daily routines of connection, to personal interactions across the country, to documentation of rich experiences, technology offers us the quiet tools that can bring it ALL together. As we innovate play with our children, we need to consider WHERE the voice lies in the experience. If the tool has the louder voice, it’s about the technology. If the child has the louder voice, it’s about the experience.

Technology should be the whisper in the background while the depth of learning is captured. It is the story of learning that is shared and reflected upon by children, families, and teachers so that the cycle of innovating play can continue.

Standards Alignment

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