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SCIENCE trees. All of this learning was done through an interest in creating their own
rain forest. I vividly remember walking into the room one day to find the entire
class arranged into groups, actively working on various parts of the rain forest.
Groups were working on the grass, the giant tree trunk, the winding river, the
animals, and the vines. Every child was engaged and motivated.
Assessment and Documentation: Throughout the process of the chil-
dren’s researching and creating the rain forest, Rachel and her assistant took
photographs and videos to document the experience. These photographs and
videos can be evidence of a child’s ability to persevere and work diligently on a
task. They could also be evidence of a child’s ability to collaborate with others
and negotiate roles.
Sharing Learning with Others: The photographs and videos captured
were shared with families so that they could witness the children’s engage-
ment and genuine enthusiasm during the research and construction. Sharing
these moments are powerful for families to see as they provide families with
a glimpse into the classroom and how the children are able to effectively work
together. At Catherine Cook, we have guests, prospective families, and other
classrooms visiting often. During these times, the students were able to show
visitors what they had created and answer questions.
Exploring Space through Augmented Reality
Science is a subject area that can naturally lead to concepts that seem abstract,
particularly for young children. Early childhood educators know children need
concrete, hands-on experiences to process information in a developmentally
appropriate way. Augmented reality provides individuals with an experience
that simulates reality visually. A popular unit of study in the early years includes
concepts related to planets, space, and the universe. Children are easily fas-
cinated by the ability to leave the planet on a ship and explore space. When I
was teaching preschool in the Chicago Public Schools, we worked together to
create a space shuttle launchpad. The children used large connecting pieces,