Last week, the kindergarten class began preparing for our fish.
First, the aquarium was washed and tiny rocks were poured in the bottom. Then, children began to carry pitchers full of water to fill the aquarium. Using small containers to fill bigger containers lays the foundation for measuring quantity, and the children loved this sense of independence. When the aquarium was mostly full, I added water conditioner drops and together the group that had gathered counted to twenty. I explained that the water needed to be "healthy" for the fish and the children peered in the aquarium, searching and observing even though there were no fish yet.
By lunch time, we gathered a class meeting and talked about what happens when we add toys to the aquarium. Several objects were already sitting on the bottom ... and we all agreed that our toys probably weren't helpful. So, we talked about how to care for fish and keep their water healthy.
The next day, the children gravitated to the aquarium and looked for fish that were not there yet. I reminded them that we had to let the water get ready and that our fish would arrive soon. Throughout the day, a few children explored looking through the fish tank at each other, entertaining themselves with, "I see you ... I see you!"
That evening, my sister set up the rest of the aquarium, adding a light on top and several bubbling pirates and sunken treasures. Even though the water was ready for fish, we didn't make the drive to the pet store. Fish would have to wait for the weekend.
On Friday morning, the children were drawn to the fish tank, curious about the changes. A few asked if the aquarium was ready for fish and we agreed that it was.
In wandered a six year old who silently observed the tank for a moment.
Then, she said, "Are the fish going to be scared?"
She pointed to the interior of the tank and elaborated, "When the fish look around and it looks like the bottom of the ocean," then she waved her hand around the room, "and then look out here and see the whole world, will they be scared?"
What a profound question about fish ... what can a fish notice? Will they see the discrepancy between worlds? And how will it make them feel?
As a teacher, I thoughtfully plan learning experiences, considering how to integrate learning objectives into meaningful activities. This question, though, reminded me that sometimes the most interesting questions come not from me, but from the thoughtful ponderings of young children!