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The Interconnectedness of Learning Through Life

By: Kisha Reid & Morgan Dickerson

Intellectual Learning is such a complicated task. Each newly acquired thought, idea, or belief is multifaceted and leans on past thoughs, ideas, and beliefs. It calls to all who are present for the experience to add their perspective which then again shifts the needle and deepens the thinking. The learning spreads like a spiders web in all directions anchored securely with lines of thought and understanding connecting the next idea to the last one. Self esteem and pride overlaps with team work and collaboration, mathematical thinking with linguistic ability, literacy with imaginative play. It is all connected and this connection makes for rich whole child learning. The act of artificially dividing these domains into boxes strips it of its stability, depth, and authenticity.

The smallest little sprouts were peeking through. The children noticed them, gathering around discussing what they saw. “It’s growing!” As a group they searched all the planters for newly sprouted plants.

Continuation of the bear hunt play scenario. This time Kellan was the bear chasing the group around, in through the tunnel up and down slides, and all around. It was a collaborative play where all the children joined in.

Revisiting this shared game pulled from song and text requires that the children remember the details from the book and song and are able to retell it in order. It also requires the children to choose, assign and agree on roles and then behave in the way that their character would. They must see the world from the prospective of their character this work is not easy in this stage of life due to the under development of the frontal cortex, young children are not yet wired to consistently see outside of themselves. This type of play allows the child to practice this skill that will be used in their relationships throughout their entire life. The Bear gets to experience the thrill of power and the bear hunters get to experience the thrill of being chased. This play connects our thinking cortex with our more emotional limbic cortex and releases chemicals in the brain called the feel good chemicals dopamine, adrenalin, and endorphin. This is why this type of play is full of laughter, squeals and joyous noises.

Harlie and Vida sat under the picnic table hiding, it quickly turned into searching for rocks. They discussed the different sizes, comparing the ones that they found.

Kellan found a lady bug. First he carried the lady but in his hands, then a pitcher, later he gathered a stick and a bucket for the lady bug to crawl around on.

Shared experience not only pulls us physically together, it also pulls us emotionally closer together. This sticks with us and deepens through each shared experience.

Their words, their thoughts, their observations and understand is what is important here. The facts given down by adults distracts from the real learning. Our role here is to step back and allow the children to soak up all of the information they observe, share in their interest and marvel in the magic of curiosity. They may not gather all of the details in the one experience, but they have a life time of learning and at least 100 more ladybug observations before they leave here.

The lady bug explored the playground along side with kellan, he brought it over to the sand pit where he placed thadybug on a pipe watching it crawl. Along with a branch the lady bug explored.

Conor gathered up his materials he needed. Kellan saw him on the mound digging and asked what he was looking for, “I’m looking for dinosaur bones” Conor said.

Connor typically starts his day by gathering up all of the supplies he needs. He seems to have planned out his time in the yard ahead of time and gets right to it.

In the sand pit Conor and Logan spent some time using sticks. Logan tried fitting his stick inside a water container. He tried multiple ways to push it through, taking out the stick and looking at it, then placing it in another way. Conor used the sticks to dig, poke and create lines in the sand.

Later Conor found a piece of string, he stretched it out from one end of the cones to the other. Measuring the distance between the two, he tried to connect the string to the tops but the string wouldn’t stay.

Logan used this spool to roll down the hill with, I’ve noticed more of the children exploring the hill and the spools this week.

Here is a picture from the other day when the trend first started.

The imaginative play script of “family” has evolved to include a pregnant mom. Vida used a ball to portray the role.

The dramatic play followed us inside and was enhanced by costumes and props.

Our group has been engaged in a long script of “family” it also parallels their work with creating community in the classroom and finding their place together as their group shifts each time a new child enters or exits and with adding an additional teacher.

I am fascinated by the role dramatic play is having in this process. It typically invites the entire group and possesses a flexibility that makes room for divergent throughts and ideas. It builds a deep sense of knowing and connecting as each child offers stories from their lives to enhance the play. They find connection through this shared experience and also identifying similarities in past experience. The trust this builds helps the children take social risks during conflict and mismatched play plans.

Another way that children widen their base of knowledge is through books and story telling. Children are often on the laps and arms of Morgan or I sharing a book or story, but many times the children enjoy turning the pages and examining the text and illustrations then coming up with their own storylines based on what they see, they have long discussions about what they think is happening, what they imagine the characters are feeling and thinking and spark questions or connections to experiences in their own lives. This collaborative experience bonds them and creates a love for and interest in reading.

Pulling, stretching, twisting, rolling, sculpting a simple wire alters the shape of the wire creating a record of the actions of the child. Each twist and turn of the line represents a thought, an idea, a movement made by the hands and arms of the child. As Theo works he crosses his midline stimulating both sides of his brain in communication. He tracks the line with his eyes taking note of how his actions effect and alter its shape. He uses his pincher grasp and engages his core as he focuses on this important work.

A full on concert broke out. We explored tempo and volume as we started slow and quiet and evolved into loud and fast. We repeated this again and again each time was as exciting as the first.

Conor surrounded himself with music instruments, he explored through each one creating many different sounds.

A discussion over the tree having booboos, needing bandaids as the touched the knots on the outside of the tree. Touching and rubbing the tree with gentle hands showing the care they have for the forest.

Conor collected two large sticks, he said they were his “chain saws” and he was “clearing pathways”.

In the forest the spring changes have been keeping us busy noticing and collecting.

Our indoor class experience has primed us for the wealth of red clay that awaits us in the forest.

New life and new meaning to make of it.

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