Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Explanation Game

One of the essential questions for the ECE tree study is "What creatures live in trees and why."  In order to answer this question, the class looked at a variety of pictures of creatures in trees, including birds, squirrels, bees, and monkeys.  We used the pictures as a basis for discussion about animals in trees and tried to develop theories about why an animal would live in trees.  After the discussion, we also read a book called "Who Lives in Trees."   This book provided some information supporting and/or disputing the theories.

At the end of the study, the children created a book and used their thinking from our Explanation Game discussion on their page about animals that live in trees.

A raccoon lives in a tree because it needs a home and wants to meet squirrels

A bee lives in a tree because it needs to hide from its predators

Bees live in a tree because they need to hid from animals that want to eat them

A squirrel lives in a tree because it likes nuts that grow on trees

A monkey lives in a tree because it is eating bananas

I hope to include the explanation game as part of every study (and possibly a few times within a study) in order to help the students construct their own knowledge.  The ECE team is using the Backward design template at the beginning of each study so that we are more intentional in our planning and focusing on our essential  questions. 


  1. Gail,

    Thank you for this post. ECE is a very foreign place for me, so I am so impressed with the work that you do. They clearly were doing a good job of answering your Essential Question. Tell us more about the Explanation Game. Is this one of the routines?

  2. Loved the way you took the learning and bound it into a collection of facts (the non-fiction books). I was thinking about what I have 5th graders do sometimes when reading non-fiction. We read the information and highlight only the key facts we find that are responses to our Essential Questions. I don't have any early childhood experience with developmentally appropriate activities, but would it be appropriate or did you go back into the books and show them how they answered the Essential Question? Love the work your doing it is so helpful in preparing them for reading for a purpose.

  3. Gail, what a thoughtful way to allow your students to express their understandings!

  4. Gail,

    I had not had a chance until now to see some of the work your children did with the books. I was pretty impressed with my children and what they were able to gain from the unit, but think your children took it to a deeper level in that their responses were varied. Mine tended to be somewhat superficial about food only and I'm wondering how you led discussions during this unit to solicit this deeper understanding. I loved the tree unit study and while I knkow we took out time with it, I sstill don't feel like I did enough around trees a habitats. Great job!