Deeper ThinkingConfidentWorld Ready

“It looked like a world with a castle.”

Today we are excited to share a post from Richland’s Head of School, Mrs. Oliveira, who recently accompanied our Junior Kindergarten class on their journey with coloured ice sculptures. Enjoy!

Prior to my visit to the JK classroom this blustery February afternoon, the children had been engaged in ice and snow investigations for several weeks. I was privy to today’s exploration of “putting the coloured ice sculptures into context.”

My small group of children had decided to work independently, rather than as a collective, to construct their ice structures. Naturally they were more excited and interested in getting their hands on the ice pieces, than to listen to me chat away. In observing them closely, they excitedly and quickly emptied the various shaped containers onto the surface of the table. The table was filled with a plethora of beautiful, brightly coloured ice pieces. I wondered how they would begin their construction with all these ice pieces scattered around the table. Where does one begin?  To my amazement, the children collectively, without discussion, placed all the ice pieces on the clear tray in the middle of the table.

When I asked them why they had chosen to do this, they proceeded to explain:

A.F.: “If the ice melts on the tablecloth, it will go everywhere.  If it is on the tray, it will stay there.”

M.L.: “Yeah, the ice will melt everywhere!”

M.M.: “When the ice is on the tray, we can then see all the pieces.”

The children instinctively knew to organize their loose materials to begin their ice sculpture creations.

In observing the children:

M.M., S.C. and A.F. immediately began to tap into their imaginations to create their structures. M.L., on the other hand, struggled for quite some time, even with prompting and questioning on how to build a tower.

ML did not seem interested in what I had to share about building a tower. Perhaps he no longer thought this could be possible because of the ice pieces which remained on the table. In his own time, with focus, patience, and self-regulation, he began to build a structure with the small, red ice blocks…he shared that he was now “designing/building a snake for the Chinese New Year.”

When children are given the time, opportunity and quiet to think and reflect upon their ideas, remarkable learning begins to unfold.Initially, I thought the “big idea” of today’s lesson was the construction of ice sculptures. But much to my surprise, it was much more than that.  I was overcome with joy and awe by the natural socialization transpiring among my small group of JK children. They demonstrated to me, that intuitively they could collaborate and share with one another – sharing and negotiating ice pieces from group to group, that best fit their designs.  Communication was abundant, as they correctly and effectively used newfound words to explain their designs, and to share ideas with their classmates to assist them in their creations. Agility and adaptability surfaced several times when their designs did not work as they had envisioned, or when pieces required for their designs were no longer available to them. They adapted the situation to work in favour of their designs. When we speak of creative critical thinking, curiosity and imagination, plenty of this was present, as they critically planned their sculpture designs.

Preparedness of 21St Century skills was prevalent in this small and intimate JK classroom.  One needs only to listen and observe children, to see the knowledge and passion inherent in the children. We are simply required to provide our children with the learning landscape, materials and opportunities, for the skills to reveal themselves and to flourish. The development of skills required for tomorrow’s world.

Today’s learning was purposeful and intentional. Thank you to Mrs. Black, Ms. Sherry and the JK children, for wholeheartedly welcoming me into the JK classroom to share in the rich learning.

Loris Malaguzzi’s words, “Nothing without Joy”, could not have been more meaningful to me.  Grazie a tutti.


  • Breathtaking colours, shapes and design in these lovely sculptures, that take the meaning of “totally cool” to a whole new level! Thank you for sharing this icey JK journey with us all.

  • The session with the JKs was a purposeful and intentional exploration, which took us into uncharted waters of deep questions, problem solving, interpretative work, negotiations, and all of the 21st Century skill sets, preparing children for the future The learning was made visible through dialogues, explorations, photographs and the children’s reflections about the experience.

    We thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment, as we explored and constructed with ‘coloured ice sculptures.’

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