In the Classroom: The Fireflies

Serious study of sticks

A very serious study on sticks

A fascination with sticks usually starts on the playground where children find some particularly exciting fallen branch. Lately, the Fireflies have been wanting to bring many sticks inside and back home. 
As teachers, we began to take special notice when friends picked up a stick and started to play. We would ask, “What work are you doing with that? What is that stick?” Ultimately, we asked the Fireflies if they would like to learn more about sticks. The answer was a huge and resounding “Yes!”
We began our study by collecting sticks outside. We displayed the sticks we found on a tray surrounded by blue, red, green and white paint. 
The Fireflies used the sticks to apply paint to paper. They described their movements using words like “rubbing” and “blending,” which naturally led to the act of mixing colors. 
Some worked slowly, some rolled the sticks onto the paper, and some used very quick back-and-forth motions. What a joy it was to see the children fully immersed in the process of painting using a non-traditional "brush."
One morning after a snowfall, we set tubs of snow on one of the choice tables. Of course, alongside the tubs were sticks! One Firefly quickly got to work making a popsicle, which inspired us to try to make our own popsicles in the classroom. 
We took a vote on which flavor to make--apple won! The voting process introduced vocabulary words such as “least” and “most” and let us practice our counting skills.
After the Fireflies carefully poured apple juice into their cups and added sticks, the cups were placed in the freezer. Periodically throughout the morning, we checked on the popsicles. We began to talk about changes in matter from liquid to solid when the popsicles became cold. At the end of the day, the popsicles were fully frozen. “Delicious,” many Fireflies exclaimed.
We have been using sticks in various ways producing some extremely creative results. We recently completed a beading branch.
With a branch as a base, we wrapped wire around various sections. The wire served as a medium to do a beading activity, adding bright colors to the natural branch. The Fireflies had some great fine-motor exercise and practiced their organizing, counting and sequencing skills. 
Our investigation of sticks continues and will surely lead to other discoveries, such as where sticks come from, and what else do we get from trees?