Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Discover the Discovery Table

   One of the joys of childhood is the wonder of curiosity. To get close and personal with something- touch it and move it around. Children love discovery- and God offers us so many wonderful things to ponder. As we take a look at what's inside my box, one of the first things children get to know about me is I love to discover. Inside my box there is always found items for a discovery table.
   The purpose of my discover table is to draw their attention in. Families have hustled and bustled to get where they're going and children can be reluctant to separate from their parents. Having a table scattered with various items to touch and explore offers an opportunity to spark that curiosity God has given them. Items on the table engage their senses and spark conversation easily guided toward the day's lesson. It also lends well to cooperation and sharing..we have to take turns with the items on the table.
   Planning a discover table is a process I really enjoy. The text being studied and prayed about opens itself to so many adventures. Elements of the story become the elements of the table.. bark from a tree, sand from the river bank...insects from the field. As I daily read and pray over the upcoming lesson a few ideas pop in there and there..I am a note scribbler, so a notebook is always nearby for taking down ideas with.
   The process is so easy. I place a table just inside the door of the classroom and set various objects on it. Build it and they will come. Kid's love to run over and see what is there. Just this week we held an emu egg and inspected a dragon fly..there were flowers and leaves to explore. Every detail is fascinating to them..and God made every part. The veins of a leaf or the petals of a flower- lacy wings and bulging love this stuff.
    My table isn't always leaves and pine cones. Sometimes it is packing peanuts with little objects hidden inside for the children to dig around in. or a plastic tub of rice to drive cars through. This week we had a glittery bottle the children loved rocking back and forth to see the movements of the liquid. The point is discover tables are for discovering and not for breaking the bank with.
   Two Sample Table Set-ups

"God Made the Heaven's and Earth"                                                   "John the Baptist"
         leaves/bark/flowers                                                                         fur/leather
                soil/water                                                                                insects in a jar
          fruit/veg/plants                                                                            honey/honeycomb
            feathers/nest                                                                              foliage/sand/water
   As you can see from my sample list, a discover table gives a jumping off point for a lesson. It can open conversation about the settings, characters or lifestyle surrounding the lesson. I love this part of my classroom because the kids are comfortable sharing and talking through their thoughts and questions..we learn from each other and sometimes they just crack me up. You can get really caught up in the fact mint leaves smell like gum or how a no one can find the ears or the butt on a dragon fly...and that's okay, just guild them a bit it will work out.
    Discovery items are always part of my lessons, but they are never the only thing. Join me again next week for another peek inside the box.

**To make the bottle pictured above, simple fill a water bottle 3/4 full with corn syrup and pour in 4 tablespoons of glitter (any color). Food coloring can be added for a different twist. Children love this.. this week my class mentioned it looked like waves on the ocean, how fun is that?

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