Tapping out rhythmsand loving it!
At the beginning of the school year, Mrs. Lambert's preschool class began tapping rhythms and beats for their names and for each song the class sang. They began listening for musical sounds in other ordinary things. At first, the children weren't too specific about which instruments they were interested in. But by the time the actual instruments were brought into the room, the children were talking about drums and guitars and making every imaginable instrument! At that point, the teachers and children created webs around the topic of instruments. The first webbing experience was used to find out what the children knew about instruments in general.
Students participate in webbing.
Another web was created to determine what the children wanted to learn about instruments. In the process, the true interests of the class became clear. The group mainly wanted to learn about and make guitars and drums. However, the teachers did not anticipate that the children would want to do numerous experiments with real and handmade instruments.
The class made instruments according to some of the children's and music teacher's plans. The group visited the intermediate school's band room to see and try playing a variety of drums and percussion instruments. Two drum and guitar experts visited the classroom and brought a variety of drums and guitars with them. Prior to these visits, the children researched these instruments. During the visits, the children were able to learn a great deal for their instrument designs, models, revisions, questions, and discussions.
This project was documented in a variety of ways by both the children and teachers. The digital camera was used regularly to track progress. To keep an accurate record of the process, Mrs. Lambert used the Project Planning Journal, found at the back of Young Investigators: The Project Approach in the Early Childhood Classroom by Judy Harris Helm, throughout the whole project. Other forms of documentation included child dictation, children's drawings and writing, anecdotal notes, individual portfolios, narratives and reflection, and observation of skills during play and representation.
Two culminating events brought the instrument project to a close. Timed to occur on the day of a field trip, the first was a lovely display of some of the children's work. Many family members came along on the field trip, so it was a perfect time for the children to show off their "hard work," as they called it. The second culminating event was a surprise that the teachers made for the students. Since the teachers had taken numerous digital photos, Mrs. Lambert arranged them into a book that illustrated some of the highlights of the journey. Each child shared stories of his or her hard work with family as they leafed through the memory book together!