Group Two had the opportunity to visit a cookie factory as they explore the question, “How does food get to the table?” This visit provided a rich study of the different kinds of work necessary to produce and package cookies, as well as the interdependence of one job on another.
Before their visit, the children investigated packaged foods in their lunches and determined how the food traveled from the farm to the grocery store as well as what happened to the food on its journey. Six and seven year olds are very proud of their knowledge and tend to be reluctant to say what they do not know, so they were full of predictions about factories. Following this process, they prepared questions for the owner of the cookie factory.
After their field trip, Group Two worked in small groups to determine the most important areas of the cookie factory. They came together as one group to graph their ideas, observing which areas were noted the most. Graphing gave a visual representation to the children’s thinking and provided a springboard for more ideas, drawings and discussion.
The concept of sequencing underlies all of this study. Asking “What must happen before this can happen?” provides an example of how basic mathematical concepts are given context in the realm of social studies and internalized through experience. Group Two began to observe ‘sequences’ throughout their daily lives. After much discussion and some adjustments, the children pinned their factory drawings along a clothesline where they believed the drawings belonged in the cookie factory sequence.
This was the process that led to Group Two’s reconstruction of the cookie factory with large blocks, and illustrates the children’s understanding and appreciation of the interlinking facets of food production. Block building requires problem solving and committee work, especially when everything is linked together by a conveyor belt!