Stop, stare, wonder and share with Smart Pickings

Posted: 4th Jan 2017

Smart Pickings Sample Page Montage

Ever looked at your children’s science books and thought ‘I did that when I was at school!’ or ‘That looks familiar!’… sometimes the life and work race we live through on a day to day basis can limit the amount of time we have to stop and stare. Stopping, starring, wondering, sharing and investigating are at the heart of Smart Pickings – a new children’s science book relevant for age 3 years and upwards!

If you could meet a scientist… who might it be?
When you are a scientist… what will you be?
Now you are a scientist… what is your question about?
… are just some of the questions that lead readers through this picture-based book. As a large book it provides ample opportunity to share the experience with others and for each reader to pick the things that interests them. It embodies my passion for child-led investigations, and offers every individual the chance and choice to be a scientist in their own unique way… picking the things that interests them, that makes them wonder, that inspires their mind to race!

Examples of how I’ve recently seen the book being used are in:
-classroom circle time discussions, with the teacher encouraging the children to pick and explain their choices to their peers
-as a table top stimulus between four children leaning over the desk, and making rapid choices that allows science to bounce around with possibilities
-at bedtime between daughter and dad vying to select the ‘very best’ choices and laughing with each other about their selections
-as an individual child sitting on the carpet having some quiet time, looking and noticing the pictures and cartoons and allowing for quiet murmurings of ideas developing

The book is linked to the majority of curriculum topics and profiles contemporary scientists as well as those from the past. It is fully embracing of encouraging child-led investigations which encourages the ideas which promote working scientifically, as identified in the revised National Curriculum for Science in England. What’s special is that it doesn’t provide the answers – it prompts the questions. It frames the discussions that we all have as we move from an idea, to a question to a possible investigation plan and to the sharing of those outcomes in creative ways.

Smart Pickings has depth in the way it offers teachers chance to adopt a constructivist approach to the teaching and learning of Science. It allows us to listen to the ideas and theories that children currently have and to allow them the chance and choice to develop them in ways that offer them rich opportunities to develop scientific habits of mind.

No longer will you hear about the science investigations you did at school, or hear something that sounds too familiar – as what this book creates are unique journeys into scientific wonderings that start from the child, stay with the child and become the child’s own scientific endeavour. I wish you many smart pickings!

This blog was written by Dr Lynne Bianchi, the author of our latest publication Smart Pickings. Dr Lynne Bianchi is a primary science and engineering education researcher and innovator at the University of Manchester.