This prompted some further discussion of the difference between “sliding” and “rolling”. Rolling is when a thing turns over and over, explained Jonathan. If something slides, it just goes down without any turning. I encouraged the children to gather some classroom materials and make predictions about which objects would slide and which would roll. They became engrossed in this exercise.
When Angel said, That round bead will roll, I began using my probing questions. Why do you think that? How do you know? No one answered right away. Each child took their own “thinking time” before coming up with a response. The round bead is like a wheel, and wheels roll. That is why, said Chenniel. And if it has corners, it can’t roll, added Lilly. Destiny predicted, My key won’t roll. It is just too flat. Without prompting, the children placed their objects into two piles: “Things that roll” and “things that slide”. One object, (a broken crayon) could roll or slide and the children were unsure about which collection to include it with. Finally they agreed to place it in the middle between the two piles. This child-initiated sorting activity looked like a Venn diagram to me!
Sliding and rolling had caught their attention and became the center of their exploration this week. This is a perfect example of emergent curriculum. I had planned to cover sliding and rolling in a day or two. The children showed me they needed a week. It is important for a teacher to be flexible enough to allow students to persist with an idea. This is another reason why I find the PEEP science curriculum so useful. It does not dictate any rigid sequence for presenting the activities and does not stipulate when teachers have to move on. We are able to individualize the lessons according to the children’s needs. My students are fully engaged in the inquiry cycle. They are questioning, exploring, making adjustments, finding answers, coming up with new questions, and are very excitedly composing theories and absorbing new ideas. There is no need to rush them on to the next phase.