Magnets...Documenting through a "Learning Story"

We are always watching to see what the children are interested in, if something sparks their curiosity, and planning around those ideas.
Here's a great example of what happened when we watched one child explore a magnetic wand she found.

 This child was fascinated by the wand "sticking" to many things in the classroom.  She did notice that it didn't stick to wood!
She created a "magnet ship that pulls in all things that are magnetic".
After careful observation, we created a quick and easy learning story using PicCollage.

Learning stories were developed by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee, both from New Zealand.
They are "narratives that describe learning and help children see themselves as powerful learners."
(Pedagogical Documentation in Early Childhood by Susan Stacey)

Although the above learning story is brief, it was a way for us, as educators, to see there was an interest in magnets and made us think of ways we could extend that interest.

The next day we created this provocation, or invitation for learning.

We wanted to start simple so a few types of magnets (wands and horseshoe) were placed on the table with various objects, some magnetic and others not.
Then we sat back and observed.

E.S.:  It sticks together and I'm not even using the wand!

M.R.:  I am trying really hard to put these together but they won't go this way! 

M.R.:  Let's try together!
J.M.:  It's still not working, I don't know why because I'm strong!  Let's keep trying!

We began to notice that the children realized that the magnets had 2 ways of working: "sticky" side and "pushing away" side.  They are certainly on the right track with their thinking!

We decided to try a fun experiment...we froze a variety of magnets in ice cubes to see what would happen.
Here are our wonders...
"Would the magnets be able to attract through the ice?"
"How would we get the magnets out?"
"Is everything in here magnetic?"

A.M.:  We stuck together!!!

This provocation was created by the children as we noticed that they started documenting their own learning by taking pictures of objects in the classroom that they found which were magnetic and not magnetic.  They wanted to continue to explore that concept.

After just over a week, the interest in magnets slowly started to fade away, despite our efforts to alter the provocations.  Sometimes these things just happen!  The children are telling us that they have explored, questioned, and learned all that they wanted to.

We wanted to compile our documentation so we sorted through the many photos we took and read over our notes.
Since it wasn't a big inquiry, we decided to create a learning story.

This was a wonderful way to show our learning!

Try it out!
I created this learning story in PowerPoint.  Simply add pictures, text boxes (which you can add borders around or shade them like the header).  I find it to be the easiest and most user-friendly program, especially is you are just starting out with documentation!

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