As the times that the busses arrive vary between 8 and 8:30 we make sure that there is always a mini-lesson happening as the kids arrive for them to join into. As many of my children are multi-lingual I see this as a great time to build vocabulary, have some thinking skill games and build a team environment. Things like Tony Ryan’s Thinkers Keys are a good example and large Where’s Wally/Waldo scavenger hunts on the IWB are tré popular.
Today was something different, as just as I was to get in the morning Taxi I saw an enormous Preying Mantis on the ground, legs in the air and well and truly dead. Now, as I am living in China, love Kung Fu Panda and Master Mantis of the Furious Five is my favourite animated character of the last 10 years I knew that this was too good an opportunity to let pass. To the disgust of the many adults I scooped up the fallen hero and took him to school.
The students walked into class (they are all 6 years old) and reeled back in disgust or zoomed in with curiosity. Is it dead? What is it? Will it attack? Will it bite? where did you find it? Was it in the class? How did you get it to…
So we sat in a circle around the Preying Mantis and began to talk (It was easier as there was a power cut). Parts were named, zoomed in on with a magnifying glass, precise language was developed. We took photos, sketched and drew diagrams on wipe boards. We labeled the diagrams, translated the words into Chinese and Korean and soon all were using gentle hands to feel the pincers on the feet grip onto our skin or gaze through the Transparent wings.
Questions were asked, anatomy of an insect was defined, compared and labeled and the learning was unmeasurable and I feel will be one of those lasting primary memories… “I remember the day when my teacher with a beard, I can’t remember his name, brought in that huge Praying Mantis and we got to touch it”.
Then it began to twitch a little… we placed a stop-motion camera on the twitching part for 2 hours and yes it did move, but no other part did. Is there something still alive in the insect trying to get out? Has it been paralyzed by spray or poison and is still alive? Is it just drying and decomposing? Unfortunately these questions were not answered as it was home time on a Friday, so they may stay unanswered, but the development of curiosity has been phenomenal and well worth the time and effort. I think that is the first true mini inquiry that I have done since my time with Kath Murdoch and after seeing the power of the experience I know that it will not be the last.