Friday, 20 March 2015

Marble Runs - working through the curriculum expectations.

Through this entire year, whether we set up new provocations in the big block centre, a group of children seem to always be asking us for marbles as they continue to be intrigued with building marble runs all the time.
The beginning stages of the marble runs.
At the beginning stages of the marble runs.

Rather than tell the students they must use the blocks in the ways we are suggesting, we allow the children to control their own play. If they wish to build marble runs every day we allow them to continue to build upon their own created schema.

What we have noticed throughout the year is the marble runs are becoming more complex and they students are trying new things.
Adding sides to make sure the marble stays on the track.
Beginning to add sides and tunnels.
Beginning to add drops and turns.

At first they created marble runs and their idea was to have the marble follow along a wooden path to the end. The students quickly realized that the marble kept falling off the track, until one of the kiddos suggested they put up some sides to prevent the marble from falling off. This lead to many marble runs being created in the following weeks. As the children experimented with longer and shorter tracks, one day one of our kiddos decided to add a circular track at the end.

As the students shared their work with the entire class during one of our class meetings, this in turn sparked more interest to include other children in their play. We have noticed that the marble runs consistently have a small core group of children with a variety of others coming and going at various times throughout the day and weeks.

Making it more elaborate.

Adding places to catch the ball at the end.

Creating jumps in the middle and traps at the end.

Creating bridges to cross and tunnels to go through.

Often video tapping the marble to look back at the designs for later.

Playing with a variety of different inclines.

A failed attempt leads to more talk and adjustments.

 One morning I tracked the play at the marble run throughout the entire morning.
The beginning of the play.
It quickly turned into this. 

Using the real world to help us build.
The scientific model in Kindergarten.
We have encouraged the students to draw plans for what their marble runs are going to look like each day and now they are writing sentences to tell us what they want for the outcome of the marbles path.

Here the boys are drawing and writing about
the road going over the bridge and also being curvy.
As educators we sometimes feel the need to move the students thinking forward in a slightly newer direction. We did this by asking a simple question: "Do you think the marble will roll faster or slower down a steep ramp?" This allowed for new vocabulary to be introduce to the students. Faster, Slower, Steep, Incline. This time the students were engaged in building for an experiment. We suggested rather than make a plan first - they could build their marbles runs, test the different inclines for speed, then draw designs and add their conclusions at the end. This group of students continued to frequent this area for another few weeks. This was a perfect example of planning a design, testing and retesting a hypothesis, and finally coming to a conclusion all on their own.
Here you can see how the children changed
 the slope of the ramp to get the car to roll through the hole.

Now they want to see if the marble or car will go up the ramp
into the can.

Marble runs are still continuing to be built on a regular basis within our classroom. Allowing for the children to determine what they want to test is the key to engaged learning. Just before the break we began to see the kiddos planning and testing to see if by changing the incline plane the marble and car would go through a hole to land on the other side of a tunnel.

Children are Capable, Creative, and Communicators when we allow them to choose their own learning.

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