Who knew you could do so much with acorns! My backyard is filled with them, they are everywhere. I have only seen acorns as a nuisance until this year. Now they are a treasure trove of learning for the classroom. Sometimes I feel like a kid in a candy store with all the discoveries we make with children’s learning. It all started with a bag of acorns. The children looked, played and discovered. We gave each child a bag to take home and fill with acorns from their own backyards.
Some children didn’t have any in their yard so we wondered where else they could find them. We decided to go outside and search the school yard to see if we could find any there. We looked up, we looked down and finally found some on the ground! There was excitement everywhere.
We brought our book outside to see what we could learn.
One child looked closely and discovered small acorns still on the branch.
We leaf matched to see if what we found in the book was the same as what was on our acorn tree.
Through our research we found that oak trees take fifty years to grow before they begin producing acorns. To give the children a visual of what the number 50 meant, we counted out 50 acorns in lines of 10 across. At the top of the graph there are 4 acorns to refer to the children’s age. We made the comparison.
Next came patterning, acorns with tops and no tops. We added stones and popsicle sticks for variation and choice.
The next day we brought out the hammers.
Discovery was recorded in their journals.
Look closely, this child thought this acorn looked like a chicken egg.
Next acorns came alive as story starters, “Once upon a time there was a family named Acorn. They were a family of five, Joe and Jon Acorn, their sister Mary Acorn and Mom and Dad Acorn.” Thus began children’s conversations about family, siblings and how many people in their families.
We introduced one to one correspondence. Each child started with 10 acorns. Using our wooden number set, the children counted out the corresponding number of acorns and positioned them under the appropriate numeral.
After the number line was complete, we asked, “How many acorns do you have left? Now find your matching number card in the block area”. This child used 7 acorns for our acorn number line so she had 3 left from her original 10. She found her 3 number card. Sound complicated? not to these 4 year olds!
Acorn Mania is still going on in our classroom. Just yesterday on our Forest Friday journey the children filled bags with acorn discoveries of all colors and sizes. Every time we go outside they continue to go on an acorn hunt. Each time they find one, they come running over with delight “look”, they shout, “I found another one!” This just proves how often we take for granted the wonders of all nature has to offer. The simplest things can offer the greatest treasures. How do you use acorns in your classroom?