Sunday, February 14, 2016


Valentine’s Day is a very low-key affair at our school. Some years the children are oblivious to Valentine’s Day, but then after the event there is a flurry of activity making love notes.  Other years we are so engrossed in projects and investigations that this holiday is irrelevant in the classroom.  Every year is different depending on the children’s interests. 

This year an interest in hearts started in January when one of the two year olds came to our classroom with the gift of a paper heart for a friend.  

This friend was so pleased she immediately wanted to reciprocate the gift.  She didn’t have much experience making hearts, so a teacher helped her figure out how to draw hearts. 

Before long she was making lots of hearts and teaching other children how to draw hearts.

 We started to notice more children making hearts.

A heart made with bicycle chain

And then when a child was missing his mother he decided he wanted to make a heart for her.  He fashioned a heart out of a blue pipe cleaner (because “blue is her favorite color”).  He also showed other children his technique by making pipe cleaner hearts for them. 


He had such a clear idea of how to go about making these hearts that I asked him if someone had shown him how to make hearts – how did he come up with this idea?  He replied that, “I figured it out in my brain”. 

I then asked him if he could tell me more about how he came up with the idea – I drew a circle and said, “if this is your brain, can you show me how you figured it out?”

He started by drawing his idea for the pipe cleaner heart inside his brain.  Next he drew his mother because he was thinking about her when he had the idea.  Then he drew the process of his brain working on the idea.   

Finally he drew a picture of his mother receiving his gift – she has a big smile.

This drawing of how an idea takes shape is a compelling example of metacognition – thinking about thinking.  

It is always thrilling to observe moments of metacognition because we know that children who are aware of how their brains work are actively engaged in learning, which is a critical part of being an independent thinker.

Happy Valentine's Day!