Thank you Shivonne for inviting me to blog about Kieran’s Lemonade Stand Project. If Kieran wasn’t a Kindergarten student we would have had him blog his story for you but rest assured his voice is in this blog entry!
Kieran first heard about #geniushour from his brother Liam in Shivonne’s class. Liam had been talking about Genius Hour at home with a lot of excitement and no doubt that excitement rubbed off on Kieran. We had been talking about Genius Hour in our class as well as it fits with our Full Day Kindergarten (FDK) Program philosophy. Asking big questions and encouraging the children to be innovative and peruse their passions during play.
One day Kieran came to me and my teaching partner Patti and told us he planned on doing a Genius Hour project. When we asked him what he was interested in doing he walked the circumference of the outdoor play area over and over thinking. Then he came back to us and told us he wanted to make a lemonade stand and “give away” the money. We talked about the word donate and why we donate to help people. When we asked him who he wanted to give the money he paced the area again. Even at this point Kieran knew that he wanted to use the money to help someone. He just needed to find the right cause to donate to. After some thinking he decided he wanted to raise $6.00 to buy mittens for The Massey Mitten Tree. He said, “kids need mittens.”
We started asking him questions to get him thinking about the process. We had been tweeting a lot with “experts” to answer our inquiry questions. We often Tweet Rob Ridley @RangerRidley to ask him questions about our Tree Inquiry Project #treeinquiry and insects we find on our walks (Thanks Rob!). As Kieran began to plan and organize his project his enthusiasm and excitement spread! The lemonade stand became a class project. The students spent time learning about lemons and researched on the iPads how to make lemonade.
Kieran’s family donated some boxes and the student set to work creating the lemonade stand. As an educator it was hard to pull back and not tell them how to make a beautiful stand but let them problem-solve, ask questions and figure out how to make the stand stable. The students amazed us with their ideas and excitement. The next day they decided that it needed to have some sparkle and they spent the day adding finishing touches!
We talked a lot in class about why Kieran wanted to donate the money and how important it was to help those in need rather than buying our classroom new trucks and toys. We wondered how children with no mittens felt so we decided to try an experiment. We put our mittens in a bag and went outside to see what it was like. The students discovered that it was hard to play and have fun. One student told us that he could not learn as he felt too cold. They began to realize how lucky they were. They finally understood that it was important to help and even though they were 4 and 5 years old, they could make difference!
The students engaged in lemonade experiments. We taste tested lemons, which created some interesting conversations about facial expressions. Then we made fresh and canned lemonade and voted on which we liked best. As an authentic writing experience some students chose to create invitations. We had been tweeting form our class Twitter account (@K5Kinders) about the progress of the lemonade stand and decided to send invitations out on Twitter as well. They were excited when some of their Twitter friends tweeted back that they would come. Thanks @Mr_Cariati, @tina_zita, and @PeelSchools for constantly retweeting our progress.
On the day of the stand, the children set up and created their vision of the lemonade stand and enjoyed selling lemonade and treats while explaining their purpose. The room was filled with joy and excitement.
The next day students used Pic Collage to create and share photos of the day. They counted the money and were excited to find out how many mittens we could buy! Thank you to Kieran and his family for baking lots of yummy treats and for taking Kieran shopping to purchase the mittens.
When the mittens arrived we read the story The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen . We sorted, counted, graphed our mittens. The students we so excited to put the mittens on the Massey Mitten Tree.
We wrapped up with a community circle where students shared their feelings on the experience using pictures we had taken during the process. The pride on their faces was priceless and you could tell that they had learned the impact that helping others makes. Even though this became a class Genius Hour project they all honoured Kieran by calling it, “Kieran’s Lemonade Stand.” They understood that none of this would have happened if it wasn’t for a big idea from one small boy!
Michelle Philpot @K5_RP
Stay tuned for Kieran’s next project!