In life some things come to be because they are just fortuitous and sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men just go astray (futzing with the saying). This week in our school’s six day rotation schedule we had time for #geniushour. Our kinders have been so engaged in making their Halloween decorations, from bats to skeletons to scarecrows to their haunted house! We have been waiting with excitement and anticipation for our #geniushour time. Over the course of these past few weeks we read books: What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada, Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty, The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, Sheila The Brave by Kevin Henkes and Hana Hashimoto’s Sixth Violin by Cheri Uegki. We also showed the kinders some videos to inspire creativity with the Ideas Are Scary which they connected to the drawings in the Invisible Boy
We decided to meld their Wonder Wall questions about Halloween/Haunted House and what we can do for creatures living in a Haunted House. Thanks to my wonderful “training teacher”, Rachel and teaching partner, Roger who helped organize the materials and space, we were set to go! First, the students brainstormed wonders and ideas about haunted houses and other Halloween creatures. We thought about what we could design for our haunted house and our creatures. Then, we used recycled materials like cardboard and paper towel tubes and “maker tools” to make our creations. The kinders worked collaboratively on a haunted marble run, a snow cone machine for a haunted house, and many other spooky inventions. To the kinders’ delight some of the small boxes had styrofoam parts and they quickly discovered that “hammering” into them could create “snow.” By the end, the floor was covered in styrofoam “snow!” The joy in this discovery was palpable. I pulled back and watched, wondering how quickly I lost control and worrying about cleanup. And that was fortuitous, the styrofoam created a hub of excitement; no arguing, but collaboration and exploration. And then the best laid plans out the window: the kinders followed their passions, more engagement in the messy exploration of styrofoam snow and how it could impact the haunted house and creatures. With a big sigh of relief, I must say, clean up went smoothly. The kinders realized there was much to do and each pitched in. Rachel vacuumed the “snow” and I took the kinders outside to shake the styrofoam off their clothes and hair. Roger moved tables back and helped get snack ready for the them after their “hard” work. This was a team effort! We then took some time to reflect. My kinders know about reflections. We reflect after read alouds and after our Daily 5 rotations. Kinders love to talk and this is a great forum for them. We don’t have all the children share with the whole group each time, but we do give them the opportunity to “turn and talk” so they can each share with a buddy. The major consensus was that scientists named it “haunted house” because they were old, dark, falling apart, with scary and spooky creatures! A little after three o’clock the bells chimed and it was time to get ready to go home. The kinders loved working together and following their interest in building, making, and creating during Genius Hour. Most worked in pairs or small groups. One little boy continued his passion in creating creatures for the haunted house and focused on that as his contribution to the learning. When one little girl asked if she needed to work with a buddy, I realized that her question to me was more likely than not,”Can you help me find someone to work with.” I looked around and saw a perfect match for her! It was so rewarding to see them work together for most of #geniushour! Were are the all children engaged, involved and interested? To some degree, yes. And there was my very active class demonstrating a cohesiveness that surprised me. Genius Hour not what I thought it would be, but not bad at all!
Have you tried #geniushour with your students? What are your feelings of letting go of the control? Nolonger “the sage on the stage.”