Our Kindergarten Mural June 2023
Q. Tell us about the mural
A. We wanted the students to understand what a land acknowledgement was and how they are connected to the land.
When we visit our outdoor learning spaces, we start by greeting the land with a little poem. After the poem, children have a chance to say hello to something they personally want to greet. Whatever they feel most connected to or are intrigued by.
Q. What was the inspiration for the project?
A. While we started with the Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature, the inspiration really came from the students. They wanted to personally greet those things in nature that were important to them. We connected what they were hearing, seeing and feeling to ways to get to know the land better, how to respect the land and how to have a relationship with the land.
Q. Was everything done outside or did the students work inside as well?
A. We visit the pond nearly daily for inspiration and authentic hands on experiences with the land. Afterwards, we extend these experiences with writing or research indoors. Each student drew or wrote about how they personally want to greet at the land and sketched an ‘inventory’ of what we find outside. They went out with clipboards, color swatches, and journals to document and learn more about the land. They narrowed the lists down to the six most important things they saw, and we started to do a little mini inquiry as a group into each of those things. Visual research was done outside, examining parts of nature, and indoors, reading and watching videos to learn more.
Q. How did student interests and experiences on the land help guide and extend the project?
A. We really went deep in to like the sky and cattails. They asked fabulous questions and tried out different theories about why and how things in nature grow or live. Recently the students were able to say “OK what’s missing?” and they started to do their own visual research using books and photographs and then they started creating elements of the land that needed to be added to the mural.
The students also really loved learning Blackfoot words with our student teacher when she was here in the spring. She taught them about signs the land gives us and seasonal traditions in the Siksika culture.
Q. What was the most interesting part for students?
A. I think what we saw as teachers as the biggest connection or excitement was around cattails! We really got into it and it was a very student driven mini inquiry. Students were so excited to learn more and they were asking questions and making connections to books we read and what was happening outside. They brought forward a lot of “what if” questions and really drove the direction of the next day’s learning.
Q. What stands out for you with a project this size in scope?
The project was months long. Sometimes we took pauses to work on other things, but it was a great overarching inquiry to return to and connect back with each time we were outdoors. Working with a big question first, and then digging in to smaller aspects within, helped make our learning purposeful, authentic and engaging.