Science and Cultural
The Casa dei Bambini classroom is only a beginning. It is a means to equip the child with the tools and attitude he will need to learn, discover, explore, and seek knowledge. A foundation is laid for the future disciplines of study, including geography, botany, social studies, and the arts. The knowledge gained here offers opportunities for spontaneous activity, leading to knowledge gained through experience. Science, like art and music, is not a limited set of activities pursued by a specialist at a particular time. If given the richness of experience in the world, rather than an isolated experience, the child will find scientific principles everwhere. This creates the foundation for more imaginative exploration later. Work with these materials encourages each child to set about seeking new information and answers to questions. At age of three, these questions are most typically “What” questions, even when phrased as “Why” questions – the child is seeking to increase the fact base needed to understand and categorize the world around. As the child matures and gets ready for the 6-12 transition, the questions typically change to more “Why,” “How,” and “When” questions. The 3-6 child observes, describes, and identifies phenomena as a foundation for later understanding in the Elementary programme when he can explain, discuss, experiment, describe, investigate, and theoretically explore these phenomena.
The scientific and cultural extensions, while they provide the most accurate information available, are not meant to be used as a tool merely to impart specific facts and figures.
They are rather designed to help draw out the child’s curiosity for the world around, and enable the child to build an orderly framework of knowledge based on the fact base to which he is exposed. The objective is to introduce the child to the world as a whole and push him to investigate further.
Many of the Science and Cultural activities are sensorial in nature to maximize the absorption and retention by the child who is mainly a sensorial learner at this age. A sensorial impression in the child’s mind ensures that when he has to deal in abstractions he is able to draw upon those impressions.
Cultural studies are the window to the world. They are the keys to the environment. These activities and materials broaden the child’s experiences and draw their attention to various aspects of our social and physical world, as well as providing them with an introduction to the laws of nature. Far from imparting facts and figures; by exploring the natural world, cultural diversity and the arts we are giving children the seeds from which respect, tolerance and curiosity will grow.
The Geography materials are used to broaden the child’s experiences and draw their attention to various aspects of our social and physical word as well as providing them with some experiences related to the laws of nature. Various activities incorporated in the child’s curriculum include:
- Globes, Puzzle Maps, Continent Folders and World Flags:
Our two globes are designed to give an early introduction to the planet, differentiating land and water and as an introduction to the continents and oceans. Wooden maps give the children a sensorial experience of the continents, oceans and countries around the world. The Flags and Continent Folders give the children plenty of material to work on each continent individually examining flora, fauna, peoples, food, habitats,transport, landscapes, and geographical features from each continent.
- Land & Water Forms
Children are able to sensorially explore physical geography by comparing and contrasting different land and water masses.
Each Casa dei Bambini classroom is equipped with spontaneous scientific activities which extend opportunities for the child to experience the scientific method as well as to discover different properties and qualities within a variety of materials. The attributes of water are spontaneously discovered through Practical Life activities dealing with pouring, spilling, temperature, evaporation, sinking and floating, soaps and suds, and sponges. In food preparation children began to explore the life science behind different types of food and drink. In the Arts area, the child begins to explore lessons such as colour mixing, what happens to clay, and properties of paper. The vocabulary learned through Naming Objects and Classified Cards lessons help organise the language for the child’s exploration. When greater mental order is established, the child may progress to further classifications of his world including: objects that are living or inanimate and repel or attract magnetically. Conversations with the child and in small groups call on the child’s observation, description, and observation of the world. These discussions also accumulate into definitions and provide a basis for theoretical explanation. Observations, based on the child’s sensorial experience, also happen spontaneously throughout the day in the Children’s House; it might be having a terrarium to watch and observe an insect before releasing it safely outside, or feeling the concrete in the sun and shade without socks on. The children are welcome to choose this work independently during the work cycle, integrating scientific discovery and curiosity into their everyday life.
Children are introduced to Botany, Zoolology and Physics in the Casa dei Bambini environment. This work is designed to instill respect for the natural world, and develop a lifelong curiosity and desire to experiment. Particularly, the 3-6 child gains knowledge through experience. Children rely on their own experiences rather than on what they have been ‘told’ is true. The younger the child is, the more visible the phenomena needs to be.
Through many of the Practical Life activities, children learn about energy needed to lift objects, what is breakable and under what conditions, sounds that objects make, balance, rate of movement, momentum, equilibrium, gravity, and chemical reactions in polishing metals. In addition, the mathematical relationships between and among Sensory materials are explored, as well as the relationships that exist between and among quantities of the Maths area. In Music, the physics of sound and the relationships of rhythm are introduced.
Botany life and earth sciences are introduced through teacher-guided presentations and specifically designed material, thus forming a sensorial impression in the mind of the child. Children are also guided to make observations of natural phenomena during nature walks. Gardening also exposes the children to biodiversity and natural life cycles while encompassing the principles of plant cultivation. Living plants, animals, and hands-on materials are part of the classroom, allowing children to develop skills in scientific observation and comparison, along with the related language.
The children learn about the characteristics of vertebrates and the five different families. They particularly love to learn about animals and become adept at differentiating between reptiles and amphibians! They work with carefully designed materials depicting real photographs or scientifically accurate drawings to identify habitats, food chains and species.
Music and Arts materials are integrated into the Casa dei Bambini classroom and can be accessed by the children throughout the day, just like an other material. As with all activities in the classroom, the actual moment of doing an artistic activity is the free choice of the child. The purpose of this work is to develop an appreciation for different modes of communication used by all cultures to communicate the emotions of humankind, regardless of time or space.
From birth, the child moves his whole body to sounds and feels the rhythms in a free and spontaneous way. In the Casa dei Bambini, the child is free to sing, to listen, to dance, and to move to melody whenever he chooses to. It is not uncommon to hear children singing while they work and others joining in spontaneously. The child also loves to move his body at a desired tempo and has a joyous experience at using maximum effort to produce visible results. Listening and moving to different musical compositions of different musical styles of historic periods are beloved activities because the child can control and perfect the way in which his body works as a whole. The child is also introduced to the Bells material, which are self-correcting, universally adapted, scientifically created, regularly graded, isolated, and prompts activity. Activities begin with matching and grading the tones of the C major scale, and ultimately extend to the introduction of the staff, clefs, notation, names of the notes, reading simple melodies, and composing one’s own melodies. Every class also has access to different instruments, including castanets, hand bells, hand drums, maracas, triangles, and tambourines, on campus which can be used as a group or borrowed to be played individually in a classroom. Lessons to introduce different rhythms and note values are also presented. In the Language area, children will learn the names of different instruments, as well as famous composers. Older children may even begin to research about the orchestra and classify the instruments.
Most traditional art activities have a product but for this is in opposition to the 3-6 child who is entirely focused on the process. In the Casa dei Bambini, the children are presented lessons that introduce the child to the use of a medium and how to handle each tool precisely to create different techniques. These activities also strengthen the child’s ability to sequence, and the hand coordination, in preparation for writing. Painting, drawing, claywork, cutting, pasting, folding, punching, tearing paper are all available for the children to practise throughout their day. Art is also included in other activities such as making booklets with math facts, decorating work, writing stories and illustrating with pictures, and design work. In the Language area, the children will be presented with famous artists and their compositions.
The Scientific and Cultural activities open the child’s eyes to the dynamic and diverse world around them. The children participate in the traditions and holidays from cultures all over the world, especially those of their own classmates. Parent volunteers are encouraged to share short presentations about how their family celebrate different festivals and traditions. The purpose is to establish mutual understanding and respect for our differences while recognising our many similarities. For the sensorial child, these presentations are particularly appealing when they display new foods, costumes, songs, and stories. Each class will have regular cooking activities, showcasing traditional dishes of our local Hong Kong culture, and the various cuisines of other backgrounds represented in the class.
”The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.