This week we are featuring a museum lesson from our infant teachers, Logan Crowley, Jill Manasco, and Rosalie Reyes. The infant class had been particularly interested in reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. Logan, Jill, and Rosalie noticed the interest and decided to build a unit around their class’s intrinsic interests. They began by looking at the brown bear who saw the red bird who saw the yellow duck who saw the blue horse who saw the green frog. The class focused on each animal and then they moved on to the next. When they arrived at green frog, I joined the class for a lesson at the National Museum of American History. Below is a reflection from Logan, Jill, and Rosalie as well as images from the lesson.
Here are some images from their lesson:
Sometimes getting the class to the museum is one of the most challenging aspects of the trip. The class made frequent stops to check in with the children and make sure that they were physically comfortable as well as mentally stimulated. See the teachers reflections below for more.
Since Kermit the Frog was displayed at a height where adults were able to view it easily, the infant teachers picked the children up and held them closer to the Kermit the Frog.
While holding a child up, Rosalie was able to engage the child by pointing and paying close attention to the child’s nonverbal ques. She watched the child’s facial expressions and was aware of where the child’s eyes were looking.
The class was not able to touch the Kermit the Frog on display. Luckily, Jill was able to bring in her childhood version of Kermit. Touching Jill’s childhood Kermit played an important role in the lesson, since touch plays such a crucial role in brain development.
The class had other examples of frogs to compare to Kermit the Frog including puppets, rubber frogs, green scarves, and musical frogs.
The infants were able to touch and explore all the tangible examples of frogs that their teachers brought with them.
A reflection from Logan. Jill, and Rosalie:
What were your topics of exploration? Why did you choose them? Where did they come from?
We had noticed that our infants really loved to read the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle, so we decided to do a unit on it, focusing on the different types of animals featured in the book. We had already learned about several animals in the book and during this week we focused on the frog.
Why and how did you choose the visit?
I was scouring the websites of nearby museums for ideas and noticed that the National Museum of American History has a Puppets and Muppets display that included the original Kermit the frog puppet. As it so happened, Jill had a stuffed version of Kermit from her childhood at home and so we decided she would bring in her Kermit and we would head over to see the original Kermit in all his glory.
What were your learning objectives? (What did you want your children to take away from the lesson?)
With infants, museum visits tend to be a short and focused experience. While older children may be ready to spend more time talking about the history of Kermit or the detailed characteristics of real frogs, infants take in and process information differently. With this in mind, our main objective was to introduce Kermit the frog to our infants and then to help them make connections between Kermit and the frogs that they’d been learning about in the classroom. The more that infants are exposed to, the more points of reference they will have, so they will begin to understand that there are many different types of frogs. This is how a baby begins to make sense of the world around them. It gives them the ability to think flexibly, which is an essential skill for future success in school.
What was most successful about your lesson? How did the lesson reach your objectives to expand the topic? What was successful in terms of your preparation and logistics?
Since our main goal was to help our infants make a connection between Kermit (a fictional frog) and real-life frogs, we brought along not only a stuffed Kermit, but a variety of examples of frogs. The examples varied from very realistic (photographs of real frogs), semi-realistic (stuffed frogs), to more cartoonish depictions of frogs. We also had a video of Kermit the frog singing “The Rainbow Connection” for the children to watch, noting as they watched that he was sitting in a swamp, an environment where frogs are often found. The children remained largely engaged throughout the lesson and showed a great deal of interest in the various objects and in the Puppets and Muppets display.
Having all three teachers interacting with the children and showing them objects can feel a little chaotic in the moment, but these one-on-one interactions are key to keeping the children engaged and enjoying the experience. We spend a lot of time in the classroom building relationships with the children and establishing trust. These relationships are instrumental for meaningful learning to take place and we find they are key to successful museum experiences for our children. Our relationships with them help us to pick destinations that we know will engage them and also help us to connect with the children as we visit and explore what we see.
What could you have done differently to better achieve your objectives and expand the topic? What was challenging regarding logistics? What recommendations would you have for another teacher trying out this lesson?
The most challenging logistic in any museum visit with our infants is simply getting out the door. Between making sure that the class has clean diapers, is fed, has had their bottles, and has napped, it can be tricky just finding a time to make it out. But we know how important it is for our children to explore, get some fresh air, and see the museums, so we make it work. The other major challenge is that infants attention is easily diverted so visits are typically short and sweet. I would recommend bringing tangible objects for infants to explore that will hold their attention. Most of all, when doing any sort of lesson with infants, the main thing is to be flexible and to be open to changing your plans if you find something doesn’t work. I constantly remind myself that the most important part is that the children have a positive experience and that as long as I can make that happen, it’s okay if a lesson doesn’t turn out exactly like I envisioned. I think the main takeaway is to have fun with it. If you are enjoying yourself and focusing on making a connection, the children will almost certainly enjoy themselves too.
The class continued to looked at frogs for the rest of the week. They explored many green objects and played in water to gain a better understanding of the habitat of frogs. When the class felt ready to move on from frogs, they continued learning about Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by exploring colors and color mixing. Be on the lookout for our Roundup on the unit Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?