One Sunflower

same and different

on October 14, 2009

I’ve decided a four year old could summarize most of their learning with these two words: same and different. 

My students are quick to notice if a peer has similar shoes, backpack or Spiderman t-shirt.  It is their primary way of connecting and finding kindred spirits in these early days together.  I do my best to capitalize on this innate desire to find commonalities and use their triumph at noticing such to build social skills and oral language. 

Going beyond our personal likes and dislikes, we’ve explored the similarities and differences between apples and red peppers, between our Mr. N Letter puppet and Ms. W, who arrived in our classroom yesterday.  I loved the comment by one of my students, “They must be friends!”  “Why?” I asked.  “Because they came on the same bus!”  (Wish all our friendships were as simple as that.)

I’ve added to the theme of our foam faces project (see earlier entry) by bringing pairs of students up in front of the class to identify what is the same and different about each set.  Same eye color, different hair color.  Same height, different color skin – always the skin color is different.  Of course the students loved it when my aide and I stood side by side – my graying hair compared to her dark auburn curls, my brown eyes rimmed in glasses compared with her large  Spanish eyes.  I’m a tiny bit taller, our skin color is as unique as each of the children’s.    Next we pulled out the nuts we gathered at the end of the field – walnuts, chestnuts, and hazel nuts.  Different insides and outsides, sizes, shapes, colors, but all nuts.   Soon I begin to hear the language of our comparisons echo in the student’s conversations, “that’s the same as me,” “this one is different.”

Much of my learning about my students could be summed up by the same words.  Today we celebrated the birthday of twins in my classroom.  At first it was hard to discriminate between these two, they look very much alike and they often wear similar clothes.  I can’t tell them apart when I see them from the back and sometimes even from the side it is difficult.  Of course they have distinct personalities!  One of them saunters off the bus with his head up and an air of confidence.  He wants to be first in the classroom and eagerly asks what we are doing each day.    Even though they sit in the same seat on the bus, the other will come off the bus more slowly, solemn, head down.  He revels in making a scowling face and when I offer a hug, he takes it.  They each have a place in my heart but this scowling little prince has no idea how hard I am working to help him feel special.

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