How do we keep 1st graders engaged in learning despite the arrival of the dreaded (but much loved by children) Fruitport Old Fashioned Days Memorial Day carnival? That's the dilemma we face at the end of every school year. Not only does the carnival set up in the center of town, nearly every bus going to or from our school drives by it twice a day!
This year I decided to do something a bit different. We built
our own "Roxaboxen" in our classroom. First, we read Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran. Then we discussed what materials we would need. Students brought in some cardboard boxes--one even brought in a huge appliance box! Measurement and telling time were math concepts specifically incorporated into the project. However, it has become truly integrated across the curriculum--and a project that evolved in an amazing way! As we were planning what shops or buildings to include, I realized mapping skills and expanded vocabulary could be included. The students incorporated money and economic concepts naturally. We googled 'Roxaboxen' and found that there is a park in Yuma, Arizona dedicated to the original Roxaboxen and we took a "trip" to Yuma, Arizona via Google Earth.
|Codi's Pet Shop--Open 24 hours!|
|Jamie's Train Station|
|Brody & Brady's 'Hunting Shack'|
|Miss Ead's Dance School|
One of the best moments? When the banker realized that other kids were making their own money, he commented, "Hey, that's not fair! Only the money made by this bank can be spent in our Roxaboxen!" Which then led to a lively discussion about counterfeit money and the FBI.
It was clear this project was loosing its power to engage students when "For Rent" signs went up on Wednesday. So, yesterday was "Demolition Day." I'm confident my students were fully engaged and learned so much more than I'll ever know---or could ever be measured on a standardized test.
Supposing I said there was a planet without schools or teachers, where study was unknown, and yet the inhabitants—doing nothing but living and walking about—came to know all things, to carry in their minds the whole of learning; would you not think I was romancing? Well, just this, which seems so fanciful as to be nothing but the invention of a fertile imagination, is a reality. It is the child's way of learning. This is the path he follows. He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so he passes little by little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love. ~Dr. Maria Montessori, MD