One important role for teachers at Shorecrest is to listen carefully to and observe children at play. By doing so, educators often discover what their students find most interesting, stimulating, and challenging. By documenting in detail, teachers can revisit these experiences to deepen learning outcomes.
Ms. Rosas and Ms. Trayer - teachers in The Experiential School of Tampa Bay - noticed when the school year started that their Junior Kindergarten class had a deep interest in boats. The teachers attentively listened to students' fascinated remarks about boats and used them as the starting point of a long-term investigation that integrated math (shapes and measurements), language (stories, vocabulary, letter sounds), science (properties of matter, materials that float, engines, wind), social studies (maps), art, engineering and technology.
The teachers also reached out to the students’ families, asking for those who enjoy boating, kayaking, jet skiing or spending time at the beach to share their knowledge as guest experts. They collected gently used boating accessories, such as a compass, life jackets, paddles and rope for the children to experiment with in the classroom environment.
The JK class had so much fun building a pirate ship “float” to roll down Charger Blvd. for the October 2021 costume parade. This led to the idea of building a boat structure for the playground for everyone to enjoy.
During Morning Meeting, they asked the children, “How are boats made?” Liam suggested, “pirates build boats.” Michael added, “people build boats with metal.”
The teachers asked, “Do you want to build a boat?” Without hesitation, the students shouted, “Yes!” The teachers explained that this would be a long-term project and the end result would be a boat structure for the playground large enough for students to play on together.
Next, the class learned that architects and engineers develop blueprints before the building process. Students were challenged to create a boat structure prototype together using clay. Many of the children suggested looking at books to get inspiration from boat pictures! Everyone agreed.
The power of the Shorecrest community became evident when a parent and grandparent volunteered to help the children make their dream come true. Adding expertise of members of the community is also a strong pillar of the philosophy of The Experiential School.
Over the past few weeks, the class worked to bring their prototype to life! Stop by the ES playground if you are on campus to see their new, shared ship.