Making it Tangible

One of the things teachers learn in their training is to make things tangible for students.  Many things in life are abstract and it helps to start with the concrete and build up from there.  I’ll never forget in a teacher training session one time, we were to put in order from concrete to abstract these 3 items: the word apple, a picture of an apple, and an actual apple.

CONCRETE: an actual apple–it can be felt, manipulated, cut into, eaten, observed

LESS CONCRETE: a picture of an apple

ABSTRACT: the word apple

If a child has not had experience with the real apple, the word apple will not mean too much to her. It is the same with reading many unfamiliar words.  Our kids need to be able to feel it, manipulate it, “cut into it”, “taste it”, and observe it to make understanding come easier.

Here are some ideas on making it tangible:

FIELD TRIPS:  And they don’t have to cost any money.  Visit a local fire house, a grocery store (behind the scenes), daddy’s work, an apple orchard, a farm, a post office, your own backyard, etc.  I think a mistake that we can make with field trips is that we go after we’ve studied a certain subject to “wrap up” our study.  But going first would actually be better because it’s the tangible.

FAMILY TRIPS: Take a trip to the mountains.  The beach.  The state capital.  The zoo.  Anywhere you can see something new.  Feel the sand between your toes.  Breathe in that mountain air.  Watch a monkey pick bugs off another one! 🙂

MEDIA: Books, DVDs, the internet, even cell phones these days can show kids things that they wouldn’t be able to see any other way, making it more tangible than simply talking about it.  Quite often when I’m trying to explain something to ALuv, I’ll get on youtube or google images and see if I can find a tangible way to show him.  (Caution: As innocent as your search may be on the internet, sometimes images pop up that you don’t want little eyes to see. Searching beforehand, bookmarking it, then showing later is always a good idea!)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Brenda
    Apr 02, 2011 @ 12:02:21

    This area is very interesting to me. I recently read an article a teacher wrote about how many kids in her kindergarten had never been to places like the post office, a bakery or even the library. To your point earlier it is hard to comprehend that which you know nothing about! These topics have inspired me to try taking my son to or read about at least one new place/subject a week to increase awareness and prepare for kindergarten.


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