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Critical Thinking Plays Out At The Light Table

This posting was contributed to Inquiring Minds by Mrs. Kate Daniel, Senior Kindergarten Teacher at Richland Academy.

Over the past few days, many of the SK children have been drawn to experiment with the mathematical concept of balance.  They have sought out, and used a variety of materials to investigate this idea, including recycled and natural materials, and building blocks. Usually they begin to explore alone, but often another child observes and is drawn in. It involves much problem solving, and negotiation to ensure each new object is placed in a position which does not cause the others to fall.  This activity results in deep concentration and focus for a sustained period of time.  It enables the children to experience both ‘success’ and ‘failure’ through an authentic, and pleasurable, activity.Failure often leads to greater success, as the children persevere and their balanced structures become more complex. In this set of pictures, we see A. and A. at the light table, using cups, mirrors, water cubes, and plastic forks to create an elaborate structure.  No words were used as they worked together.  Their movements quickly became synchronised and decisions agreed upon without speaking.Several times their structure fell and they began again to rebuild it.  The placing of the plastic forks at the top slowly, carefully and delicately carried out.For one child this activity became an entry point into a new friendship.  Through relating to these new materials, for the first time he began to relate to another.  It is a wonderful example of Piaget’s theory that peer interactions play a crucial role in the construction of both social and intellectual competence.

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