2s GROCERY STORE INQUIRY CYCLE
Building Understanding Through Recreation
Children in the 2s work to understand a sense of self in relation to the other children in the room and all curriculum is built to reflect this development. This might be as simple as a child understanding that all the snack on the table is not just for them or as complex as a child wanting a toy that another child is using. One way the teachers extend this concept is through their Opening Circle and specifically their “Tuesday Chat” which begins in the second half of the year.
When children return to school after their weekend, they take time to share what happened outside of school through this Tuesday Chat. Children build language around time (yesterday, last week, etc.) as well as similarities and differences (“I went to the movies too, but I saw a different movie!”). Teachers noticed that many children were talking about going to the grocery store with their families over the weekend. Teachers also recognized that dramatic play was filled with constant food preparation play. After professional reflective meetings together, the 2s class teachers concluded that they needed to launch a grocery store inquiry cycle that would culminate in cooking and recreation.
When children play and recreate the world around them, they integrate knowledge through meaningful contexts. This was a perfect opportunity to do just that. The first step was to determine what everyone wanted to cook. (Cooking is a monthly activity in the class and children were excited about deciding what they wanted to make.) During an Opening Circle, the group agreed upon Buttered Pasta (no cheese!) and Guacamole (no tomatoes and lemon, not lime!). A list of ingredients was created with words and pictures for children to reference. The group ventured into the kitchen with their list determining what we had versus what was needed. Then it was time to go to the grocery store!
Every child was given an ingredient they needed to pick out and with the support of an accompanying adult, they went shopping! There were lots of conversations about where items were located in the store, the quantity of a certain item needed and then… how to pay for it! Children proudly brought their bags of groceries back to school.
Over the following weeks, children cooked with their ingredients, eating their final products with pride. The dramatic play area in the classroom was transformed into a Grocery Store, where children could play out their understanding of the experience (searching for a desired item, waiting in line to pay for it, determining if they wanted to use cash or credit and then cooking with pretend ingredients).
Teachers wanted an opportunity for children to reflect on their experience, so a class book was made that documented the Inquiry Cycle, written in such a way for children to access the information, even reading the pictures. Each child was given a copy of the book to take home and share with their families. It was truly a highlight of the year.