Uploaded by Jen Potts

CreativeCurriculumStudyStartersTeac 9B57504CF6365

Copyright © 2005 by Teaching Strategies, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form
or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage
and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied
in critical articles or reviews—without prior written permission from
Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Written by: Cate Heroman
Series Editors: Cate Heroman, Toni S. Bickart, Laurie Taub
Cover, book design, and illustrations: Carla Uriona
Production: Jennifer Love King
Teaching Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 42243
Washington, DC 20015
ISBN: 978-1-933021-10-2
Fourth Printing: 2008
Teaching Strategies and The Creative Curriculum names and logos are
registered trademarks of Teaching Strategies, Inc., Washington, DC.
The publisher and the authors cannot be held responsible for injury,
mishap, or damages incurred during the use of or because of the
information in this book. The authors recommend appropriate and
reasonable supervision at all times based on the age and capability
of each child.
I would like to acknowledge Lilian Katz and Sylvia Chard for their inspiring work
on the Project Approach that has greatly advanced our thinking about quality
curriculum for young children. Thanks also to my Teaching Strategies team who
worked hard to conceptualize and bring to fruition this Teacher’s Guide and the
series of Study Starters. Special thanks to Cate Heroman as lead writer and Toni
Bickart for managing the project; Charlotte Stetson and Candy Jones for writing;
Carla Uriona for editing, design, and production; Laurie Taub for careful editing;
and Larry Bram for helping us to craft the idea. Thanks to Sarah Bickart and her
kindergarten class for testing our ideas as we wrote.
—Diane Trister Dodge
Studies are one of the most effective ways for children to learn
science and social studies content while developing skills in literacy, math,
the arts, and technology. They support children’s wonderful ability to
become totally engaged in topics and activities that interest them, and they
gently challenge children to extend their thinking to ever higher levels.
Studies are meaningful to children because they provide them with
opportunities to gain information through direct observation and
experimentation and then to link new ideas to what they already know.
Studies help children develop content knowledge, because they
meet children’s need to work on projects over time and to be
guided by adults who know how to help them construct
understandings. Each day’s learning builds upon what was
studied before, and each new study provides opportunities
for children to extend skills acquired in previous work.
To engage children in a study, teachers select a
good topic; learn about the content that can be
addressed; identify related investigations that
will interest their children; and plan ways to
introduce the topic, guide learning, and document
children’s understandings. Study Starters will help you get started and guide
you through the entire process. They suggest topics that offer the rich range
of experiences you want to provide for children and show that the work
involved in conducting a study is really quite manageable. Using this model,
you may wish to explore other topics based on the interests of your group
of children and the resources you have available in your community.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Each Study Starter presents one topic that addresses important concepts in social
studies and science, and it offers suggestions for each step of the study without
restricting you to those ideas. Study Starters are planning booklets with room
for you to take notes, record your observations, and preserve your ideas about
additional ways to help children explore the topic. This format invites you to adapt
each Study Starter to fit the children in your class and the community resources
available to you.
Study Starters are not prepackaged, prescriptive units or themes that tell you
what to do and when to do it. You can pick any topic that appeals to you and
try it with your class. Each Study Starter outlines a coherent process that is
based on how children construct understandings in science and social studies.
The process includes
1. exploring
2. formulating questions
3. finding answers to the questions through investigations
4. celebrating learning through culminating activities
Study Starters are models to help you implement investigative, project-based
learning in your classroom. As you gain experience with project-based learning,
you can use these Study Starters to generate new ideas. Whatever studies you
decide to try, you will find that each offers a wealth of learning opportunities
for children.
What Children Learn
Each Study Starter has learning goals related to specific process skills as well
as to science and social studies content. Process skills are the methods used to
learn content. Content includes the knowledge and understandings that children
should learn in science and social studies. Specific activities and materials are
suggested to offer opportunities for children to make discoveries and demonstrate
their learning. Keep the goals and objectives of your program in mind as you use
these Study Starters.
Process Skills
Observing and exploring are skills children use to notice objects, events, or
conditions in the environment and to consider how and when they change. These
skills also include manipulating objects to understand their properties and how
they work. A study always begins with observing and exploring.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
What Children Learn
Connecting information means linking new information to prior knowledge.
When children make connections, they make sense of new information by
seeing how it fits with what they already know. This is why it is so important to
start a study with ideas familiar to children and then help them make the link to
new information.
Problem solving involves identifying a problem, thinking of ways to solve it, and
trying solutions. Problem solving requires generating new ideas, using materials in
different ways, and taking risks to try something new. Studies can provide many
opportunities for children to apply problem-solving strategies.
Organizing information involves knowing how to break a whole idea or problem
into parts, how to classify, and how to compare. These skills make gathering,
tracking, and using information possible. Once information about a topic is
organized, it is easier to make inferences and draw conclusions.
Communicating and representing involve the skills needed to share observations
and understandings with others. When children draw, write, dramatize, and make
graphs and models, they represent what they know and understand. In studies,
children apply these skills throughout the study, but most especially in the
Celebrate Learning phase.
Science Content
The following list shows some of the important science concepts that children can
learn as they explore different Study Starters. Each Study Starter topic was chosen
because of the science learning opportunities it offers.
Physical Science
Objects have observable features (e.g., color, shape, size, temperature) that can
be examined, described, and measured.
Objects are made of one or more materials, such as metal, wood, or paper.
Physical properties of objects and materials can change (e.g., when ice melts it
becomes liquid).
There are different forces in nature (e.g., wind, gravity).
Objects can move or be moved in space in various ways (e.g., pushing, pulling,
rising, sinking).
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Life Science
All things on earth are either living or nonliving.
Living things have characteristics that can be observed.
Living things grow, change, and reproduce.
Living things have similar basic needs (e.g., animals need food, air, and water;
plants need air, water, light, and nutrients).
Living things can be grouped in different ways (e.g., appearance, behavior,
plants, animals).
Living things live in different environments.
Living things have similarities and differences in their appearance and behavior.
Living things depend on each other.
Living things go through a cycle of growth.
Earth and the Environment
There are different kinds of weather, and weather changes from day to day and,
in some places, over seasons.
Weather can be described and measured.
The environment changes from one season to another in some places.
The Earth’s surface is made of different materials (e.g., rocks, sand, dirt, water),
and each material has properties that can be described.
The surface of the Earth changes, sometimes slowly (e.g., erosion), and
sometimes suddenly (e.g., earthquake or volcano).
Different objects can be seen in the sky.
We can affect the world around us in positive and negative ways.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
What Children Learn
Social Studies Content
The following list shows many of the important social studies concepts that
children can learn as they explore different Study Starters. Each Study Starter topic
was chosen because of the social studies learning opportunities it offers.
Spaces and Geography
The places where each of us lives have geographical features (e.g., mountains,
deserts, lakes, rivers).
We each have personal geographic information (e.g., where we live,
our address).
Our location tells us where we are in relation to other people and objects.
Regardless of where we live, we depend on people far away for many
necessities and information.
Maps are tools that help us determine location through the use of symbols.
People and How They Live
Each person has unique characteristics.
There are similarities and differences among people and cultures.
A family is a group of closely related people; each family is unique.
There are basic principles for getting along in society.
People everywhere communicate verbally and nonverbally.
People have basic needs that must be met in order to stay healthy (e.g., food,
clothing, shelter).
People use money and barter to get goods and services that they do not raise,
make, or find themselves.
People use a variety of means of transportation to move goods and go from
place to place.
People have different jobs in the community.
There are rules in our home, school, and community; each rule has a purpose.
People have certain rights.
People have different ways of solving problems.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
People and the Environment
People can affect the environment in positive and negative ways.
People depend on the physical environment (e.g., food, clean water).
There are many ways people can take care of the environment.
People and the Past
Things and people change over time.
We can measure the passage of time.
There are words to describe time (yesterday, today, tomorrow, past, present,
future, day, week, minute, hour, month).
The following section illustrates how one teacher built a study around children’s
wonder and curiosity about an elevator that was in their school building. Process
skills—observing and exploring, connecting, problem solving, organizing
information, and communicating and representing—are highlighted as well as the
particular concepts in science and social studies that apply. As you read the elevator
study, think about the skills children are learning in other content areas as well:
literacy, math, the arts, and technology.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
What Children Learn
The Elevator Study
• Discussing previous
experiences on elevators
• Sharing what we know
about people with
disabilities and how they
access public places
Problem Solving
• Figuring out how to
create a replica of an
elevator out of Duplos®
• Deciding how to make
a pulley that will move
the Duplo® elevator up
and down
Organizing Information
• Recording measurements
of the elevator
• Drawing parts of the
elevator and referring to
them in representations
Physical Science
• Objects have observable
features (e.g., color, shape,
size, temperature) that can
be examined, described,
and measured.
• Objects are made of one
or more materials, such as
metal, wood, or paper.
• Objects can move or be
moved in space in various
ways (e.g., pushing, pulling,
rising, sinking).
On an extremely cold Minnesota winter day, we decided to
take a walk in our building instead of going outside. We went
up and down the stairs; then we decided to take the
elevator to the next floor.
There were so many things to notice about the elevator
that we continued to explore for the next few weeks. We
discussed previous experiences on elevators. We examined
and drew the numbered buttons inside the elevator. We
figured out how wide and long it was by using children as
the unit of measurement, and we recorded our findings on
a chart. We counted to find out how long it takes for the
elevator to open after pressing the button. Examining the
Braille writing led us into learning more about people with
disabilities, including how public places are made accessible.
We read the fire safety sign by the elevator and discussed
why it is important to take the stairs when there is a fire.
Observing and Exploring
• Noticing features of the
• Asking the custodian
• Exploring where the B
button on the elevator
would take us
• Finding out more
information about Braille
• Exploring how a pulley
On our various trips to the elevator, the children took their
journals and wrote about and drew pictures of the elevator.
They wrote the letters from the signs and dots to indicate
the Braille. A group of children made a model of the elevator
o u t o f D u p l o s® , c a r d b o a r d , t a p e , s t r i n g , a p u l l e y , a n d s m a l l
people figures.
The children also wanted to know where the B button on
the elevator was supposed to take us, since nothing
happened when we pressed that button. We asked the
custodian if he could take us to the B floor. He used a special
key to take us there. What a surprise! It took us to the
basement of the building, where we went on a spontaneous
field trip. We saw an exercise room and examined the
weights. Then we saw the furnace room and found out how
our classroom stayed warm when it was so cold outside.
Later, children made elevators with large cardboard blocks,
taping on a B button to take them to the basement, where
they got off and exercised. The photos, journal pages,
drawings, and models were displayed for the children to
reflect upon their learning and share with their families
and visitors.
Communicating and
• Sketching the elevator’s
• Making signs in Braille
• Writing in journals
• Creating models
• Constructing elevators
with blocks
• Working cooperatively and
making plans to complete
a model of an elevator
• Talking about our elevator
experiences with families
and visitors
— Mary Lockhart-Findling,
Heartland Community Action Agency Head Start
People and How They Live
• People everywhere communicate verbally and
• People use a variety of means of transportation
to move goods and go from place to place.
• People have different jobs in the community.
• There are rules in our home, school, and
community; each rule has a purpose.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Using Skills in Literacy, Math, the Arts, and Technology
Children will practice and apply skills in literacy, math, the arts, and technology to
find information and represent what they are learning in science and social studies.
Here is a sample of the skills they may use.
Language and literacy skills are used to gain
information and communicate findings:
Math skills are used to quantify information
and draw conclusions:
• Listening
• Using number concepts (e.g.,
counting, tallying, quantifying,
estimating, comparing)
• Learning and using new vocabulary
• Expressing ideas orally; participating
in conversations
• Following directions; asking and
answering questions
• Reading for information
• Using print and book concepts
• Finding patterns
• Exploring 2- and 3-dimensional shapes
• Measuring
• Collecting, organizing, and representing
data (sorting, classifying, graphing)
• Making meaning from print
• Using writing for a purpose
• Writing letters and words
The Arts
The arts are used to represent and
communicate thinking and learning:
Technology skills are used to find
information and explore how things work:
• Using visual arts (e.g., drawing,
sketching, and making murals,
constructions, models, and rubbings)
• Locating information, communicating,
and representing using computers
• Dramatizing (e.g., dramatic play,
re-enactments, dramatizations)
• Using music, movement, and dance
as representations
• Taking photos (e.g., digital photography
makes it easy to print photos, create slide
shows, and insert images into booklets)
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
• Using tools in investigations (e.g., digital
cameras, tape recorders, binoculars,
magnifying lenses)
• Figuring out how things work
Study Starters: Begin the Study
How Each Study Starter Is Organized
The introduction asks you to reflect on the children in your classroom
and consider why they might be interested in this topic. Write what you
have observed children doing or saying in relation to the topic.
1. Begin the Study
The first section has seven parts:
Begin the Study
Exploratory Investigations
Exploratory Investigations
Your ideas
Background Information for Teachers
Pause and Reflect
What Children Already Know
What Children Want to Find Out
Create Idea and Content Webs
Integrate Content Area Learning
Gather balls of different sizes, materials, and weights. Ask famili
friends to help you build the collection. A sample letter to famili
included at the end of this Study Starter. Here are some suggestio
balls to collect:
golf ball
racquet ball
kick ball
soccer ball
beach ball
koosh ball
bowling ball
whiffle ball
dog ball
ping-pong ball
pool ball
In addition to the types of balls that usually come to mind, think
balls that are not used for play such as:
cotton ball
popcorn ball
silly putty ball
crystal ball
ball bearing
Magic 8 ball
ball of yarn
Exploratory Investigations
Children have a natural, spontaneous curiosity that drives them to
investigate. Your first step is to give children time to explore. This
section shows you how to set up initial exploratory investigations.
Exploration is an important step. Children are not ready for formal
investigations until they have become familiar with the objects or
materials. As children explore, teachers question, probe, and draw
children’s attention to the characteristics of the objects or materials
being studied.
Background Information for Teachers
You do not need to be an expert in science or social studies in order to
use Study Starters. It is important, however, to be knowledgeable about
basic science and social studies information so that you can respond to
children as they investigate and ask questions. To help you get started,
we provide some basic information. We encourage you to learn more by
talking to knowledgeable people, reading, and using the Internet.
When you are asked a question, lead children to research the answers
by asking, What do you think? and How can we find out together?
Your own curiosity and sense of wonder will be a model to encourage
children to investigate.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
This section has vocabulary words to use as you interact with children during their
explorations. There is no need to drill children on the meaning of these words; just
use them in the context of your conversations. For example,
There’s nothing inside this ball.
Yes, it is hollow, but there is air inside that we can’t see.
We have also left space for you to record questions you wish to explore.
Pause and Reflect
Ask the following questions when selecting a topic to study:
Does this topic address children’s current or potential interests?
Is this topic real and relevant to children’s experiences, and is it
Do enough of the children have experience with the topic so that they can think
of questions to investigate and explore? Does the topic allow children to build
on what they already know?
Can children explore the topic firsthand? Can real objects be manipulated?
Are resources (e.g., people to talk to, places to visit, objects or living things to
observe and explore, books to read) available?
Can children do some research for this topic independently without depending
entirely on the teacher’s assistance?
Can the topic be explored in a variety of ways over an extended period?
Will the topic permit children to apply literacy and math learning in
real-life contexts?
Will the topic allow children to explore key components of science and
social studies?
Can the arts and technology be incorporated readily into the topic?
Does the topic lend itself to representation in a variety of media (e.g., dramatic
play, writing, constructions)?
Can you facilitate communication with families about the topic? Are family
members likely to want to get involved with the project?
Can you plan investigations that respect cultural differences?
Is the topic worth studying?
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Study Starters: Begin the Study
If you can answer yes to most of the questions on this list, you have found a topic
worthy of your valuable time and your children’s effort. Since the topics have been
selected for you, the Pause and Reflect section shows you a justification for their
selection. However, to complete the topic-selection process, space is left for you to
raise any other questions you may have.
What Children Already Know and What Children Want to Find Out
Find out what children know and create a chart to record this information. Keep
this list handy so that you can add to it throughout the study as children make new
discoveries. Also record what children want to find out and add questions as they
arise. This list will inspire your investigations. Think about which questions can be
answered by means of hands-on investigations that will lead to important
understandings. Later on, you will find suggested investigations that are based on
typical questions that children ask during this stage.
Create Webs of Important Ideas and Content
Creating an idea web is a way to think about the key ideas related to the topic and
the ideas children might explore. A web has been started for you with space to
record your ideas. In this way, you can adapt the Study Starter
to the available resources in your own community and the
particular learning that you want to emphasize. Add to this web
as new ideas come to mind. Check off ideas as they are captured
in the investigations and other experiences.
B al l s are mad e
o f d i ffe re nt
m at e ri al s an d
are d i ffe re n t
si ze s
roll-on deodora nt
computer mouse
ballpoint pen
B al l s are u s e d
as to o l s to
mak e th i ng s
mo v e o r ro l l
Bal l s move or
can b e mad e to
T h e re are
ma n y typ e s o f
b al l s
balls for playing games
¥ bowling ball
¥ beach ball
¥ baseball
balls for other uses
¥ cottonball
¥ meatball
¥ matzahball
The second web you see is a content web. We recognize that
you are required to address learning standards that describe the
general knowledge and skills children are expected to learn in
various subject areas. The sample webs outline the science and
social studies concepts the study might address. Refer to your
program’s learning goals or standards related to literacy, math,
the arts, and technology, and use this page to identify the ones
that your study will include.
Integrate Content Area Learning
Each Study Starter has examples of how to integrate the learning related to these
standards in a manageable way. Think about how each experience helps children
gain a deeper understanding of the topic. Record your ideas about experiences you
want children to have in each of the content areas.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
2. Investigate the Topic
This section has three parts:
Weekly Planning and Enhancements to Interest Areas
Sample Investigations
Further Questions to Investigate
Weekly Planning and Enhancements to Interest Areas
While you pay attention to children’s interests, you also plan for possibilities and
consider important learning goals. You think about what children are currently
doing and the direction the study might take. You have already begun your
planning by identifying the big ideas in the web and writing possible ideas for
specific content learning.
Use your weekly planning form as a tool to organize your study on a weekly basis.
Record any materials you want to add to the interest areas. Enhancements to
interest areas are suggested in each Study Starter. You may choose from the
suggestions or add your own ideas. List only those materials that will help the
children gain a deeper understanding about the topic. For example, in a study of
insects, an art activity encouraging children to create a paper plate caterpillar may
not help children learn more about a caterpillar’s characteristics. However,
observing a caterpillar and then sketching one or modeling one with clay might
encourage children to pay close attention to its features.
The materials you place in the interest areas may either be part of a particular
investigation or be designed to encourage children to explore and develop new
questions. Keep in mind that it is not necessary to add materials related to the topic
to each interest area. Do so only when it seems logical and makes sense.
Make notes about your focused, planned experiences as well. For each day of the
week, record large-group activities, books to read, small-group activities, and any
special activities.
Large-Group Time – Use group time to introduce the topic to the entire class.
Watch children’s faces and listen to their questions to learn their degree of interest.
Group meetings are also a good time to discuss what you are learning throughout
the study and to make plans about what to do next. Because all children may not
be involved in every aspect of the study, it is a time to communicate with others
about study events.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Study Starters: Investigate the Topic
Story or Book Time – Include informational books as well as fiction related to the
topic. Informational books are those that provide factual, real-world information.
Some of these books are written in ways that are ideal for reading aloud. Others
may be more appropriate to use as a resource for locating particular facts.
Small-Group Activities – In addition to study experiences during choice times,
small-group time is another context for investigations. You may choose to have one
group investigate one aspect of the study while another group finds answers to
different questions.
Special Activities – Add special events that you plan in relation to your study, such
as site visits or having an expert visit the class.
At the end of this Guide you will also find a Studies Planning Form that you can
attach to your weekly planning form. Here is an example of how you might
complete this form if you were studying wildflowers.
What will happen next?
We’ll go on a nature walk,
do observational drawings,
and take digital photos of
wildflowers. Back in the
classroom we’ll use field
guides to identify the
different kinds of flowers.
The children will graph the
different kinds of
wildflowers found.
How will
children represent
their learning?
How does this link
to the objectives
and/or standards?
Observational Drawings
Life sciences – living things
Field Guides
Literacy – locating
Process skills – observing,
organizing information
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Sample Investigations
Investigations that enable children to find answers to their questions are the heart
of your study. Review the What We Know chart you created earlier. As you
examine the children’s questions, you may see that it is lengthy. It may be
impossible to answer each question.
You may also notice that some questions are abstract and rather difficult for young
children to investigate on their own, such as, Why does the wind blow? or How
many stars are in the sky? Those questions may best be answered by reading books
or consulting experts. The sample investigations respond to questions children
might ask by suggesting activities that you can do with children to find answers.
Here are a few tips for using the sample investigations:
Feel free to adapt the investigation based on the children in the class and the
materials you have available. You may find that you have a better way to
investigate the question.
Be flexible and open to children’s ideas. If a new question
emerges, follow their lead in exploring.
It is not necessary for all children to be involved in an
investigation at the same time. Investigations may be
done in a whole group, in small groups, or
independently. Groups of children can also conduct
investigations during choice time.
Are bigger balls better for rolling, kicking, and thro
Balls, yarn, or string (preferably two different colors)
Where This Might Take Place
Discovery Area, Outdoors, Toys and Games Area, Small-Grou
Time Area
What to Do
Observe and document what you see children doing
and saying. Use this information in your assessment.
A single investigation may take several days to complete.
Hold up a flat, circular object such as a CD, a Frisbee, or
cut from paper. Ask children to name the shape. Then hol
ball and ask about its shape. How are they the same and
Explain to children that a ball is a sphere and that no mat
you look at it, it still looks like a circle.
Ask: Do you think that bigger balls are better than smalle
rolling, kicking, and throwing?
Each sample investigation includes the following elements:
Question—Each investigation is based on a question
that children might ask.
Materials—This is a list of easily found or inexpensive
materials necessary to complete the investigation.
Ak h
h ld
Sample Investigation 1
Are bigger balls better for rolling, kicking, and throwing?
Balls, yarn, or string (preferably two different colors)
Where This Might Take Place
Discovery Area, Outdoors, Toys and Games Area, Small-Group
Time Area
What to Do
Where This Might Take Place—These are suggestions
about where the investigation might occur.
What to Do—This section includes step-by-step
directions to guide children through the study.
How you interact with children—the questions
you ask, the comments you make, and your
inquisitive nature and curiosity—will assist children
in the investigation.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Study Starters
Hold up a flat, circular object such as a CD, a Frisbee, or a circle
cut from paper. Ask children to name the shape. Then hold up a
ball and ask about its shape. How are they the same and different?
Explain to children that a ball is a sphere and that no matter how
you look at it, it still looks like a circle.
Ask: Do you think that bigger balls are better than smaller balls for
rolling, kicking, and throwing?
Ask the children for ideas about how to measure a ball. Discuss
their ideas.
Show them how to wrap yarn around a ball. Then, by measuring
the length of the yarn, they can find out about the size of the ball.
Ask each child to choose a ball from the collection.
Ask each child to predict (guess) how big around his/her ball is by
cutting a piece of string or yarn. Use one color of yarn for these
Invite the children to test their predictions by wrapping the pieces of
yarn that they cut around the balls.
Using a second color of yarn, encourage each child to wrap a new
piece of yarn around the ball and cut it the appropriate length.
Discuss the results.
Ask the children to compare their yarn length to different objects in
the room such as a block, table, window pane, foot, hand, etc.
Have pairs of children take a large ball and a small ball and make
predictions about which one they will be able roll, kick, or throw
the fastest or farthest.
Discuss findings.
b ll
Study Starters: Celebrate Learning
Document Findings—Here you will find ideas
for children to represent their thinking and communicate
what they know. This documentation can be shared with
families and others outside of the classroom to
demonstrate children’s learning.
Document Findings:
Create a display of balls that are solid and hollow on t
children to make predictions for other balls.
Indicate on the display which balls are best for rolling,
Learning Goals or Standards Addressed:
Learning Goals or Content Standards Addressed—Know
which learning goals you are addressing as children work
through an investigation. This will also help you if you
are required to document the learning objectives or
standards in your plans.
Predicting, testing hypothesis, exploring
properties of objects; learning concepts
Social studies: Working collaboratively
Engaging in conversations; learning new
asking and answering questions
Sorting and classifying, representing da
Understanding how things work
Additional Investigations About What Is Inside Balls
Additional Investigations—You will find suggestions of
additional investigations to continue an exploration of the question.
There is also space to record your ideas.
Create a hollow ball with paper maché. Cover a ro
paper maché. When dry, make a small opening, po
Further Questions to Investigate
As you explore and investigate with children, you may see that they are still deeply
interested in learning more about the topic. Revisit the list of questions created at
the beginning of the study. New questions that would be worthy of exploring,
posed either by you or the children, may have surfaced during your investigations.
Also review your idea web and mark the concepts the children have investigated.
Consider whether there are other important ideas that need to be explored.
This section lists questions that may arise and has space to record others.
Following a similar format to that of the investigations offered in Study Starters,
think of how you might help children find the answers to the questions.
3. Celebrate Learning
When most of the children’s questions have been answered or when they are
losing interest, it is time to end the study. Review and evaluate what children
have learned. Bring closure by organizing a
celebration or classroom event to share the
children’s learning with families, other classes,
administrators, or the public. Children develop
Celebrate Learning
important skills as they make plans, develop
displays, write invitations, create signs and
decorations, and prepare refreshments.
Celebrate Learning
As you notice children’s interest begin to diminish, it is time to bring the
study to a close. Plan a special way to celebrate children’s learning and
accomplishments. Allow children to assume as much responsibility as
possible in planning the activities. Here are some suggestions:
Set up stations for children to show visitors the various ways they
investigated the balls.
Host an Olympics featuring events for visitors and children to play
using balls.
Have the children plan a meal including only those foods shaped
like balls: oranges, cheese balls, sherbet balls, olives, meatballs,
matzah balls. Invite family members to participate.
Invent a new ball game and teach it to the children in another class.
Make a class book, photo album or documentation panel about the
balls study.
Your ideas
What were the most engaging parts of the study? Did you discover any new
topics that might be worthy of investigation? If you had to change any part of
the study, what would it be? Do you have other thoughts and ideas?
Involve guests in sample investigations to show them
the processes that children used and the learning that
took place. Encourage children to share what they
have learned with guests. Invite guests to ask
children questions about the study. This culminating
event shows that children’s work is valued and
important and that their efforts are noticed.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
Here are some ideas to celebrate learning:
class-made museum display
open house with demonstrations or interactive experiences for families
video or slide show of the study
sharing of study-related dramatic play setting (e.g., a flower shop after
a study on flowers)
This section also encourages you to think about the study experience. Use the
questions to guide your reflection process. Learn from your experiences with this
Study Starter and think about how you might approach it when you try it again
with a different group of children.
The resource pages in each Study Starter are divided into two parts: resources for
children and resources for teachers. For easy reference in the future, be sure to
record any additional resources you found helpful.
A Letter to Families
Involve families early in the study by sending home a
letter such as this one. Family members may have
expertise or a special interest in the topic, a collection
to share, or the ability to connect you with valuable
resources in the community.
Letter to Families
Send families a brief letter outlining the potential scope of the study. Use the letter as an opportunity to
communicate with families and enlist their participation in the study.
A Letter to Families About Our Study of Balls
We want to learn more about balls—the different kinds of balls, how people use balls, what they
are made of, what is inside of them, how high they can bounce, and their uses. We need your
help in finding as many different types of balls as we can. Here are just a few examples:
beach ball
bowling ball
cotton ball
crystal ball
doggie ball
golf ball
kick ball
koosh ball
ping-pong ball
pool ball
racquet ball
soccer ball
whiffle ball
Please contribute whatever balls you can to our study.
As we study balls, we will be learning many important concepts and skills in literacy, math,
science, social studies, the arts, and technology. We’ll also be using thinking skills to investigate,
solve problems, and make predictions.
What You Can Do at Home
Play with balls of all shapes, types, and sizes: playground balls, tennis balls, ping-pong balls,
koosh balls, volleyballs, baseballs, footballs, marbles. Talk about what the balls are made of, if
they are heavy or light, or if they are big or little.
Wonder aloud with your child to encourage his or her thinking about balls. I wonder what’s
inside of a tennis ball. I wonder how far you can throw a foil ball, a beach ball, or a tennis ball.
How can we find out?
Help your child use all of the senses when playing with balls. What does it look like? Feel like?
Sound like? Smell like?
See how many types of balls you can find around the house and in your neighborhood.
While riding in the car, bus or train, play a game. Think of all the words that contain the word
ball in them. Look for examples of balls around you.
At the end of our study, we’ll have a special event to show you all that we’ve learned. Thank you
for playing an important role in our learning.
© 2005 Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Permission is granted to duplicate the material on this page for programs implementing The Creative Curriculum® Study Starters.
Teacher’s Guide to Study Starters
How will children represent their learning?
Week of: ___________________
© 2005 Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Permission is granted to duplicate the material on this page for programs implementing The Creative Curriculum® Study Starters.
What will happen next?
Study Topic: _______________________________
Studies Planning Form
How does this link to the
objectives and standards?
Bickart, T., Jablon, J., & Dodge, D. T. (1999). Building the primary
classroom: A complete guide to teaching and learning. Washington,
DC: Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Chalufour, I., & Worth, K. (2003). Discovering nature with young
children. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
Chard, S. C. (1998). The project approach: Making curriculum
come alive. New York: Scholastic.
Chard, S. C. (1998). The project approach: Managing successful
projects. New York: Scholastic.
Diffily, D., & Sassman, C. (2002). Project-based learning with
young children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Dodge, D. T., Colker, L. J., & Heroman, C. (2002). The Creative
Curriculum for preschool (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Teaching
Strategies, Inc.
Helm, J. H., & Beneke, S. (2002). The power of projects: Meeting
contemporary challenges in early childhood classrooms. New York:
Teachers College Press.
Helm, J. H., & Katz, L. G. (2001). Young investigators: The project
approach in the early years. New York: Teachers College Press.
Helm, J. H., Berg, S., & Scranton, P. (2004). Teaching your child
to love learning: A guide to doing projects at home. New York:
Teachers College Press.
Jablon, J. R. (1992). Integrated curriculum for four- through
eight-year-olds. In A. Mitchell and Judy David (Eds.), Explorations
with young children: A curriculum guide from the Bank Street
College of Education. Mt. Rainier, MD: Gryphon House.
Katz, L. G. & Chard, S. C. (2000). Engaging children’s minds: The
project approach (2nd ed.). Stamford, CT: Ablex Publishing Corp.
P.O. Box 42243
Washington, DC 20015