How to Connect Materials & Language

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The materials we use with young learners, and actually any age learner, is easy to underestimate. The kind of materials matter and when we allow the learner to choose materials that connect to their learning style and their interests, the materials themselves can create a profound connection to learning.  Today’s blog highlights the ongoing work of 4 and 5 year olds at a head start program I have worked with since 2003. While the work itself is impressive, what is much more impressive is the process the learners go through, in addition to the process the teachers go through.

It is in the process, where the learning happens!

Most of this blog will be told with images. Enjoy!

This particular head start program, based in Tucson, AZ known as Child-Parent Centers, does a world class job of documenting the progress and work of the children. They intentionally engage the young learners in authentic dialogue which illuminates not only what they are learning, but...

How they are learning!

Here is the opening image which is posted in their center.

Next is a description of this project, how it worked and what the objectives were. This will give you some very good insight as to what is possible with any learner at any age.

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Here is an elephant made with clay, and the description by the young artist!

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Here are some Hippos made with clay, and the accompanying description by another young artist!

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Here are some flowers made with clay, and the comments from the various young artists!

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I mentioned earlier in today’s blog that the..

Process is where the learning takes place

To highlight exactly that, take a good look at the next set of images, which show different moments of the learning and artistic process. This will give you some idea as to how much work went into making these clay figures, and the kind of learning that was going on from:

  • Building language

  • Conceptualization

  • Fine Motor dexterity

  • Comparison and Contrast

  • Social and Emotional

  • Color Identification

  • Shape Identification

  • And more!

I encourage you to ask yourself:

  • What kind of materials would my students be interested in?
  • Have my students showed an interest in certain materials?
  • Am I using those materials as a bridge to learning?

May you have a splendid time connecting with your students and helping them connect with the joy of learning!