Preschoolers are Natural Discoverers, Literally

Sep 10, 2014 | Preschool News, Uncategorized

MVPS Preschoolers, aka #MVLittles, have a special place where they can explore, discover and learn.
Join us for a Q&A with the Head of Preschool, Kelly Kelly and Creator of the Preschool Discovery Space – ELC Teacher, Michelle Eaves.
MVPS: What is was the genesis of Discovery?
Kelly Kelly: Preschoolers have such curiosity around scientific concepts and the natural world. To capitalize on their innate interests, we built our project-based units around scientific exploration. Discovery is a space created with those projects in mind — a space where small groups of children can touch, feel, smell, pet, experiment, and explore in a space designed to enrich and enhance what is happening in their classrooms. Our Preschool Curriculum is designed around project-based units, where children are invited to collaborate with their classmates and teachers to deeply explore a topic that they are curious about.
MVPS: How have the kids reacted?
KK: Amazingly! Discovery is a space where everything is at the children’s level, and it is all built for them to play, interact, explore, fiddle, tinker, and question. Because we use Discovery within our small group learning model, children come into the space in groups of 3-6, and teachers are really able to tailor what the children do in Discovery around their specific interests and questions.
MVPS: What animals reside there?
KK: We have two birds, two hermit crabs, a leopard gecko, two types of frogs: a tree frog and a southeastern leopard frog and a hamster. We are also growing an avocado tree (guacamole, anyone?), and will work on other plants during the year that we can then transplant into the garden space on iExplore (we’ll soon be growing our own snacks!).
MVPS: How often do the students get a chance to visit?
KK: Most children will visit at least once a week, but potentially more, depending on what projects they are working in their classrooms.
MVPS: How was the space created?
KK: Michelle Eaves – a teacher in the ELC, received a summer grant from the Preschool for the creation of this space (among other things). Michelle was able to build curriculum for Discovery for the year, and create some enhancements on iExplore (have you seen the Sound Center yet?)  She has worked tirelessly on nights and weekends, and her efforts have truly transformed what we are able to do during the day!
Michelle Eaves: When Kelly asked me to help develop the Discovery room program, I lit-up with excitement and started to do the research. I was inspired by visiting the Georgia aquarium (creatures in a naturalistic environment), doing a google search (types of animals and plants native to Georgia), and my background knowledge of creating learning environments. I can still remember my childhood days and recall what I thought would be fun and interesting to experience. I finally got to create my childhood dream and let Mount Vernon Presbyterian School students experience the magic of wonder through science!
MVPS: What do the kids say about the space?
“”Let’s go see the animals!”
“Get the gecko out!”
“Feed the gecko some crickets!”
If excitement is any indication of learning, these kids are are learning A LOT!
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