the feather lesson plan series..

It is hard to say what the starting point of this “lesson” was. I suspect it was re-finding the feathers in the draw we call the bits and bobs box. It did start as a box but had to expand as our collection of little bits of string and wire and corks and much much more increased…. Possibly we should call it a junk draw but that would be demeaning to it’s contents. The bag of feathers that had been languishing there for some time came out and somewhere in Helena’s imagination they hit the bird man she had just put together. There was a bit of playing around with sticks, glue and a few design revisions later Helena made this bird (it’s wings move), followed by another then another.

Of course these birds are characters with fully developed lives. The lives started to take over from the making and eventually the feathers became characters in their own right and the birds started to take a back seat, eventually they were forgotten altogether. So what was important? It seemed to be important to name them, they were counted, and then organised in some form of que and were all called “buddy” in a gentle affectionate tone.

It seemed to also be important to record the names of these feathers so that they would not be forgotten, we have precedent for this mainly due to Helena’s love of making up complicated original names for everything under the sun when she was younger. Helena made a grid on a box to record the names of the feathers. In the nature of a game the feathers themselves started to take a back seat to the box that was being prepared for them, it was a tough elimination where only one feather of each colour could be in the box itself. Less names to work out how to spell maybe. After she had filled in her grid she made pictures as a label associated with the name – a symbol that meant them. This activity from bird to just feathers was sustained over days and she was particularly proud of each new development. The last thing she did, “I just have to”, before bed was to write the word happy to put in the bottom of the box with her feathers.

I am not sure who she proudly showed this box to using one of our new electronic communication mediums but whoever she showed it to did ask what the feathers did? Apparently they do this…

I’m not sure that this wasn’t made up on the hoof but it looks fun.

Sometimes I wonder about her obsession with setting up characters as I don’t hear the internal monologue of story details, plot, so it comes out as a simple repetitive game, mostly dialogue, and sometimes as a just plain weird ramble. There is currently a story competition going where a story starter is released and kids are meant to send in a completed story using the starter. Helena wanted to do this but nothing seemed to happen then I read her the third story starter while we were out walking and out of her head came this amazing outline of how the story could go, it was gripping, multi-leveled, detailed and showed that she has certainly been practicing scenario resolution and has a vivid detailed imagination.

The feather box was made a few nights ago now and has been living on her bed. Last night the feathers got flying lessons, bird lessons, bouncing lessons, and trickling lessons followed by role call back into the box at the end.

Some other feathers have been turned into beenibs (a made up word from years ago for objects that have a specific shape and are useless)…

There is no way I would as a teacher have thought of this particular lesson plan sequence. She is showing creativity, loads of literacy (it was all with a steady commentary), numeracy (she loves a good spreadsheet…) drama (so much reenactment and ideas of interpersonal relationships) and technology, but it is still a little weird to me…. thank goodness I trust her.

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