The term "know" is a very difficult concept for children to acquire. "Know," of course, has several meanings, but the one most commonly thought of in a school setting is the, "I know that is true." It is the recognition that something is a fact. It can be proved to be true.
In teaching children what is true or a fact, it is important to recognize that they must find it out for themselves. A teacher cannot tell them that something is true and have the children know it for themselves.
A "concept" is an idea formed in the brain. A concept cannot be handed from one person to another. Words may not give another person a clear picture at all. In fact, they may confuse the learner.
Each person has to make his/her own concepts. The easiest way for children to obtain a concept of something is to have an experience with it--not through listening to someone else's words.
It is extremely important for the teacher to understand just how a person gets his/her actual personal knowledge of the things in his/her world. Teachers often resort to "talking to" or "telling" a class, instead of literally "showing" them the subject. This can be avoided by providing experiences for children in which they participate. They use one or more of their senses as they learn. They learn by "doing" and "saying."
The sensory stimulation activities provided earlier will assist children in recognizing the different sensory organs with which they learn.
Through a light wave, or a sound wave, or some form of taste, touch, smell, an impression is picked up and lodged in the mind. There is no literal picture in the mind, but there is an impression that begins to form a picture as continued experiences accumulate and meaning grows.
Throughout the year, teachers should provide activities that help children to obtain concepts in science, math, social studies, art, and music by providing concrete or vicarious experiences.
An example follows.
Air Is Real
First, give each child a straw, paints, and white construction paper. Have the children place paint drops on the paper and blow them with a straw. Ask, "What is making the paint drops move?" "Can we see what is moving the paint?"
Next, blow up a paper bag. Ask, "What is in the bag?" "What made it get bigger?" "How do you know air is in it?"
Finally, have the children expand their chest size by inhaling. Place a piece of yarn around the child's chest while standing quietly. Next, have the child take a deep breath, hold it, and again measure around the chest with a second piece of yarn. Compare the lengths of yarn. Have each child compare the lengths of their two pieces of yarn. Have them feel their chests expand as they fill their lungs with air.
Materials Needed: Straws, paint, white construction paper, yarn, paper bags.
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