Yesterday I listened to a sample class of Jennifer Louden’s Teach Now program. One of theTakeaway ideas is to: “Grab your students attention and enroll them in the learning right away.” There’s more to the notion than I’m going to say right here, but the basic idea is to grab their imagination and ignite their need to know. Ways to do this are to offer a dare, a mystery, an experience — help them experience the “huh?” — a gap in their knowledge, and then close it with an “a ha” experience. That‘s how I might achieve that.
So, today I’m telling a story at the Vashon Wilderness Program where I teach 4-6 year olds. We’ll be harvesting Nettle, and so learning a way to do it that avoids you getting “stung” (but doesn’t guarantee it!).
A story is a great opportunity for igniting that sense of “Gee, I don’t want to get stung — but you really can touch Nettle without getting hurt?”
In my story (which is based on my own true experience), Annie visits her Aunt Elinn (they are both characters in my children’s magical fiction novel, Because Of The Red Fox). Because she likes plants, Aunt Elinn is having her help with the harvest. Today’s harvest is of Nettles for food. Annie suddenly sets a challenge for herself. Can she not only harvest Nettle with her bare hands, but touch Nettle on the undersides, and along the stalks (where all those stinging hairs are) without getting stung (she’s heard that it’s possible)? She uses lessons from being attentive to the cat in her lap, and sneaking up on Robins to discover the secret on how to do that …..
Maybe I’ll share that story with you another time how about how she ends up not only stroking the Nettles, but lying on the ground beside them — without one sting! Right now I need to head on out to the forest and see if I can ignite that need to know with my kiddos!