We are so fortunate to have an hour every day carved out for Labs! Labs extend and support key content from our module (reading and writing) lessons. Labs allow all students to access content knowledge of our unit through play, exploration, and collaboration. There are 4 distinct Labs in our current unit about birds: create, engineer, explore, and imagine.
Students are introduced to Labs during the launch stage where they practice routines, understand the materials, and establish expectations for the upcoming Labs. The launch stage gets students to wonder and anticipate more about our topic. Next, in the practice stage routines and expectations are reinforced and practiced. During the third stage—the extend stage, students become more independent, work longer at their centers, and their work becomes more complex. During the final stage—the choice and challenge stage, students spend half their time in the Lab of their choice and the other half in the Imagine Lab. Students work on a final product, while getting feedback from their peers.
Our unit has allowed students to experience hands-on learning through various activities. Our 4 labs are create, engineer, explore, and imagine. During the Create lab, students use their knowledge of bird body parts and their function to help design and create their bird sculptures. They identify the various shapes and details that make each body part and then sculpt those features using model magic. For our Engineer lab, students ask: how can I use my knowledge of birds to design a solution to a human problem? They use their knowledge of feathers, beaks, and feet to design solutions. Students use various materials (i.e., paper towel rolls that act as hollow bones) to design a device that solves a specific problem. Our third lab, Explore Lab, allows students learn more about bird bones and beaks as they engage in a series of challenges using materials similar to these parts. Currently, my Crew enjoys figuring out which beak is “best for the job” when collecting different types of food. They use various objects (tweezers, spoons, etc.) to mimic bird beaks to try and catch different types of food. It is really fun! During the Imagine Lab, students use poetry and movement to show what they know about birds, body parts, and how bird body parts function. Students dance and act out different poems related to birds. Students, often together with different groups, create movements to go along with poems—and their creativity really shines.
Labs provide such a great way for students to access key content we are learning in an authentic and fun way—where students are able to show off their curiosity, creativity, cooperation, and responsibility. Our Labs, scheduled for the last hour of the day, are such a wonderful way to end our day!