In this week’s blog, Narwhal’s Head Teacher Natalie Connor leads us through the development of a Prekindergarten project on construction.
Project work in PK is characterized by an ”emergent” curriculum, which means that the topic of investigation is selected by teachers closely observing students interests’ and curiosities, and then infused with other learning objectives in literacy, math, science, etc.
As the year comes to a close, PK students have their first experience with an “intended” curriculum, where teachers select an age-appropriate social studies topic – in this case, Homes Around The World – through which they continue to their teaching of core PK skills and concepts across the curriculum.
As you’ll see, this still requires great creativity of our teachers and promotes challenging and authentic learning on the part of our students!
AN INTRODUCTION TO BLUEPRINTS
The Narwhals have been learning how architects create blueprints to design and plan out houses. We looked at different examples of blueprints through images and videos and noticed the components architects include such as the different rooms in a house, doors & windows, furniture, labels, and sometimes information on the types of materials to use. The Narwhals learned that a blueprint shows the “bird’s eye view” of the house, as if you are looking down at the rooms from the ceiling. After our research on blueprints, the Narwhals had a better understanding of what they are, sharing the following thoughts:
“A blueprint is a picture of a house you want to build.”
“An architect has a blueprint.”
“An architect makes the blueprint.”
“An architect plans the part of a house.”
“An architect tells construction workers and contractors what to do.”
“After we make the blueprint, we can look at it and build a house!”
WHY ARE BLUEPRINTS BLUE?
The Narwhals were naturally very curious about why blueprints are blue so we did some research to try and answer the question. We learned that a long time ago when blueprints were invented (in the 1800’s) there were no copy machines, so architects needed a way to reproduce their blueprints that was easier and faster than drawing them over and over again. Scientists discovered a solution that would help with this (ammonium iron citrate mixed with potassium ferrocyanide). They discovered how to use this solution to make copies by first coating a piece of paper with the solution, letting it dry, and then placing the drawing on top. Lastly, the two papers are exposed to a bright light. When this happens the chemicals react and turn the bottom paper blue, except for where the architect had drawn the outlines/details of the house because those lines blocked the light. To get a more hands-on understanding of this, some Narwhals experimented with making Sunprints in art today. They put small objects on the Sunprint paper on the terrace, exposing the paper to sunlight, and after rinsing the paper in water they noticed the places where they had placed their objects were white since they blocked the light, just like how blueprints were made!
The Narwhals were then ready to make their own blueprints. The Narwhals found out that they would be working in small groups to create a blueprint for their DREAM house! Each group met to have a brainstorming meeting to share their ideas for their dream house and discuss how they could collaborate. Next, they used blocks to lay out the rooms of the house on a piece of big white paper.
We used a tape resist method to create our blueprints: First, a teacher helped outline the rooms with tape and then the blocks were removed.
Next, students painted their entire paper blue…
…and the following day we removed the tape to reveal the white outlines of the room.
Then the Narwhals worked hard to label all their rooms and features in black marker.
Then they added black lines for doors, white lines for windows, red lines for electricity wires, green lines for natural gas pipes, and light blue lines for water pipes.
They noticed the shapes used in blueprints we had looked at and also thought about their prior knowledge of the objects they were adding, ie: thinking about what shape their bed is or what shape a table might be. The Narwhals created some amazing dream houses using their imagination to include a wide range of components including pools, water slides, a garden room, a circus room, a playground with a pirate ship, a monster truck garage, and even a train track going through the middle of a house. Stop by the Narwhal’s classroom to see the finished products in person!