This term we have been working on a tower inquiry. As with any inquiry we are engaged in, I am constantly looking for ways to provoke or enhance student thinking and learning throughout various centres in the classroom. In the summer time I visited the beach quite regularly and was always fascinated by the small stone towers that were left behind on the beach by talented beach-combing architects. Of course, eventually I was inspired to build my own…and I snapped a picture of my creation. This week I placed a picture of my stone tower, along with a challenge to my students, in our small building area. Since tower building with rocks is a bit of a challenge, I was looking for the children to use what they have learned about balance and problem solving to build the tallest tower they could. I also wanted to introduce them to the concept of recording their work on paper, so I provided them with paper, fine tipped markers, and crayons. This is how the centre looked:
The children were quite excited to give this challenge a go. As they worked, I took notes on how they approached the challenge, what strategies they used, and how they problem solved. The children most enjoyed recording their towers on paper – even taking care to draw them as accurately as they could by counting and checking how many stones they used, demonstrating each stone’s size, and colouring them in the appropriate colour.
Here are some of the students’ thinking I captured:
M.B.: “1, 2, 3, 4. I used 4. I put the big big big rock first and then I got medium sized, small and then so small at the top.”
S.M.: It looks like a snowman. I used 5 rocks. First I got a big one, and then another one the same size, and then some small ones.
A.F.: I saw they were all kinds of grey colours. I used 3 stones. I didn’t use more because I was worried it would make it fall down.
A: I need the flatter ones. I got five! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!
Stay tuned for more updates on our tower inquiry!