by Beth Brennan
Director of Early Childhood Programs
This spring, our EMS Kindergarten classes have been using their acquired literacy skills to begin their first, school research projects. As with all projects of this nature at EMS, the teachers are merely guides while the students are encouraged to take ownership of their research and presentations.
Initially, the children are instructed to select an animal. Next, they are guided through the research phase. The teachers assist in selecting a variety of books (non-fiction), provide video clips and apps to use with iPads, and help with fact-finding during library visits. Students are also provided with a list of general questions as a framework for their research; this also helps them process their findings through notes or images they sketch. Experience is also important, so very soon, the children will be visiting the local zoo to study their animals in person.
Projects such as this one are multi-faceted, engaging a range of methods for gathering and processing information. From a farther perspective, "research" gives young children a sense of purposeful study–it forms a body of skills and pattern of thinking as children move through school and are confronted with problems or topics they must break down and understand.