A progressive learning environment is an exciting place — for both the students and the teachers! You never know what is going to pique a child’s interest, turning a discussion about ice into a month-long construction experience. Case in point: there’s currently an ice cave in our senior kindergarten classroom.

The impromptu project began with a simple conversation between a Bennett Day student and our SK teacher about the physical properties of an ice cave. The inspired student shared this knowledge with a friend, and an idea took root. What if they built their own ice cave?

The entire class was on board, and took to the drawing board with their fresh ideas. Everyone built graphic representations to share their vision of how an ice cave should look. With marker and paper, some of the children created actual plans, complete with penguins, icicles and candles. These drawings eventually became the blueprints for the project.

The students explored with loose parts at the light table and sensory table to create a 3D space. While some worked on the rooms and spaces inside, other created pathways and entry points. Collaboration and idea sharing were the keys to the entire process.

Shortly into the project, a discovery was made on the playground when frost from the previous night covered the wood chips on the ground. The class grabbed magnifying glasses and trays, and began to examine how the ice looked on the wood chips. They gathered this information and applied it to their blueprints for the construction of the ice cave. After much research and exploration, the class was ready to put their plans to the test. Using the original drawings and blueprints, they began adding loose parts and applying paint. Through open discussions and sharing ideas, a list of materials was made for the final ice cave.

Using a number of items, such as chicken wire, pipes and fabric, the ice cave began to take shape. The children worked on weaving, knot tying and other fine motor skills while contributing to the decoration of the exterior of the life-size cave. They worked in small groups of three to four, planning and collaboration throughout the project. Using these materials, the SK team needed to learn and practice using wire and large scissors safely. They learned the importance of communicating ideas to assist in the adaptation of their 2D work becoming a 3D object.

We’re constantly amazed by the creativity and drive our students exhibit every day. Click here to read about how one class discovered a shared love of pasta and ended up learning how to make noodles from scratch!

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