The  Underground Railroad: Building Connections and Understanding

IMG_5524Our kinders are great at making connections. They ask amazing questions. Their wonders fill me with wonder.  And they are problem solvers. Put that all together and their #geniushour in sharing their learning about the Underground Railroad was incredible. Those who were not as clear or unsure were brought along on the wave of excitement by their peers!! We go back to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his Big Words and the Civil Rights movement. To Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott and to Ruby Bridges in a school by herself. We read, we question we try to understand. We watch @BrainPopjr. to learn about Dr.Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.

IMG_5107We go back to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. The two sides. Some kinders look at them as teams and who did people want to win. These are challenging concepts for kinders. They try to make sense of it all. It’s hard, we try. It’s not about teams we say, it’s about sides and what side you think is fair,what side is right and what would you want. Slavery baffles them, so we make analogies that might make more sense for them. We read books, we talk, we listen to each other. Some of our parents come and share with us a wonderful presentation about African Americans and their contributions to our country. We learn more.

IMG_5499Then we talk about showing what we know; what could we have done in that time, if we were conductors in the Underground Railroad like Harriet Tubman and Peg Leg Joe, in Follow The Drinking Gourd. We decide that a #geniushour learning might help the kinders understand this part of our history. We have discussions, we brainstorm what we can do and then the kinders are off. From here their collaboration and work is their own. The kinders made their own groups, two or four or five friends working together. Most stayed with their group formulating plans and ideas till the end. Writing and drawing materials were available to label or draw whatever they felt would enhance their project. The kinders built safe houses, barns, boats and rivers. They made lanterns and quilts. They made trees, owls and food. They took the stories and brought it to  life! They made a place for slaves to rest and get food. And they made a safe house that said No Slaves Here to fool the slave hunters and their dogs.  And then it was time for each group to share what they made, why and what it could accomplish. It was their time to reflect.  We all worked together to clean up. A quick gathering and then it was time to go. When the kinders left I talked to my teaching partner and our assistant about our #geniushour afternoon. I looked for their reflections before I shared mine. Is it because we’re kindred spirits or because our teaching styles mesh so well?  Or is it because we have faith in our kinders to show their learning in nontraditional ways, that we were so awed and overwhelmed to see what our kinders understood.  It was a pretty good day in kindergarten!

Have you “set the stage” for your #geniushour projects? Have used blocks as the cornerstone for discover in learning?

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