At the end of the school year I gave each preschool student’s family (about 58 of them) a note and a self-addressed stamped envelope in the hopes that they would write to me to let me know about any explorations their child experiences over the summer. Any exploration—deconstructing chalk on the driveway, blowing bubbles on the back step, discovering an anthill in the park, or digging for “fossils” at a museum—because the information will be useful to other families, and a record of what young children can do and learn about human-made and natural places in the world.
By asking them to fill out the following information and mail it to me, I hoped to inspire the parents to talk with their children, and have the children reflect on their experiences.
Summer Exploration Passport Page by _____________________________
Where did you go? List the name, address and website for this location, or just let your child describe it.
What did you see, hear, smell and touch? Write and draw about your experience.
Is there anything you would like to know? I would like to find out….________________.
I put the pages in a notebook for all families at this parent-run cooperative preschool. It’s a way of collecting family natural science experiences as told by young children to share with, and inspire, others.
So here it is, a month later, and I have two entries:
One child (dictated to a parent) said that she went to a Market in the city and saw cool hats and sunglasses, lots of dogs, held her nose when she went by the “really bad smelling fish”, saw pretty flowers and ate good hot dogs. She advised that one should wear a hat because it gets hot.
The other sent a flower, wrapped up in tissue, for me to help her identify. Unfortunately the flower body had dried and crumbled. Other than looking very pale in color I had no clue. Fortunately, there were seeds. So I planted them, wrote back suggesting that she check a flower identification book at the library to see if she can find her flower, and that I would let her know if anything grows.
I wonder if any other families will send me a page describing their explorations. Do you think an email letter halfway through the summer would get more responses? Should I send an email with a photo of something interesting I’ve seen this summer and ask adults to share it with their children?