During snack recently, two children found an abandoned apple slice on the ground. On the apple they discovered one ant. The children picked up the apple slice and started examining the movements of the ant. Other children wondered why two children were staring at an apple slice and inquired why this was so? Eyes widened as the other children discovered the tiny creature moving quickly along the sweet surface.
The investigation of the apple and the ant went on for some time. There was a back and forth discussion about what to do with the ant. Squish it! Take it outside! Put it back where it came from? How did it get in here in the first place? Why was this ant all alone, don’t ants travel in packs? Many questions and opinions were shared but no plan of action was agreed upon.
Discoveries are happening in the smallest ways during our time together. The children are always on the lookout for something new to experience and these experiences create new wonderings.
What is the importance of an ant on an apple?
This is a wonderful example of the process of children’s learning. The children did not know when they arrived at school; there would be an apple slice with one ant lying on the floor. They found something that interested them and wanted to know more. What we may see as insignificant because of our grownupness, busyness, and distracted nature as adults is the context in the world of the child.
Children are born with a gift, the need to understand the meaning of the world and the meaning of life. So in the search for meaning they ask why? Why is there an ant on the floor attached to a discarded apple slice? To find answers children propose theories, talk with other children, and share ideas in search of the why? As children keep talking, share more ideas and possible answers the thought process grows and knowledge advances.
Why is this important to the educator?
As educators, we may unknowingly interfere with the children’s process by answering the question or giving a direction in an effort to move the moment along if we do not recognize a moment of discovery is happening. Our role as educators is to be aware and support these moments of discovery. We are partners with children in co-constructing knowledge. In this story our role is to support the discussion by listening and not worrying that an apple slice is on the ground or that the children are picking it up, playing with it, and examining it. If we are invited (I was not invited) to participate in the discussion then we do, otherwise this is a wonderful moment to observe the learning process in action.
In the end the apple and the ant made it outside. The large grass field near the playground was the final destination for the apple and the ant. What happened next only nature knows…