- Introduction: A Project about Doors and Gates
- Launching the Investigation of Doors: The Teacher’s Role
- Considering Children’s Potential Interest
- Locating Resources for the Project
- Looking at Doors and Gates before the Project Begins
- Making the Teacher’s Topic Web
- Gathering Reference Materials
- Planning for Documentation throughout the Project
- Phase 1: Getting Started
- Collecting Data Outside of School
- Recalling Prior Experiences Related to Doors and Gates
- Posing Provocative Questions
- Making Observations of Doors and Gates at School
- Creating a Topic Web with the Children
- Helping Children Ask Questions and Make Predictions
- Forming Subtopic Groups
- Involving Families during Phase 1
- Phase 2: Fieldwork
- Gathering Data on Doors and Gates
- Interacting with Visiting Experts
- Making Site Visits
- Creating Collections of Artifacts and Specimens
- Incorporating Science Activities
- Incorporating Language Arts and Literacy Activities
- Incorporating Math Activities
- Incorporating Social Studies Activities
- Incorporating Fine Arts Activities
- Incorporating Physical Development and Health Activities
- Debriefing after Fieldwork
- Involving Families in “From Door to Door” during Phase 2
- Phase 3: Bringing the Project to a Close
- Revisiting the Question Table
- Facilitating Play
- Planning for Final Displays of Documentation
- Planning a Culminating Activity
- Involving Families during Phase 3
- A Final Word
- Appendix A: 2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Benchmarks Addressed During a Project on Doors and Gates
- Appendix B: Children’s Literature Related to Doors
- Appendix C: Teacher Resources
Doors are so much a part of our daily lives that we tend to take them for granted. But once we begin to look, we become aware of the variety of doors around us—car doors, bathroom doors, pet doors, microwave doors, barn doors, garage doors, revolving doors, cabinet doors, storm doors. There are also many gates to be seen, such as toddler gates, tailgates, turnstiles, and many more! Doors and gates are made of a wide range of materials. Important principles of physics and engineering are involved in designing and building them, and they are made to withstand a number of natural forces that might affect them, such as wind, extreme temperatures, and gravity. Doors and gates serve many purposes in the lives of children and their families. Many young children can become interested in them and their diverse features—the opening and closing of elevator doors, the workings of a latch on a pasture gate, the way a front-loading washing machine door keeps water and suds from leaking out.
A project about doors and gates has the potential to engage most preschoolers from the very first conversation about the topic. Many types of doors and gates can be found in any home, school, and community, which makes the topic well suited for programs in which children cannot make site visits far from school. They can do much of their fieldwork at school and at home.
A project on doors invites children to “find the extraordinary within the ordinary.” It is the kind of project that can strengthen children’s motivation to better understand the world around them, even the parts of it that seem most familiar. This slide show by Illinois photographer Durango Mendoza suggests the wide variety of doors and gates that might become part of the project.
An investigation of doors and gates could also work well as a first project for very young children who have not done project work before. For tips on ways to facilitate a brief “practice” project, see the article “Teaching Project Skills with a Mini-Project”.
This guide includes ways that investigating doors and gates can address Illinois Early Learning Benchmarks in all learning areas (see Appendix A). Any phase of the project can include activities related to physical development and health, social and emotional development, science, social studies, language arts, mathematics, and fine arts.
This Project Guide outlines possible steps to take to engage preschool-age children in a project about doors and gates. Please keep in mind that this guide offers suggestions, not lesson plans or “recipes.” Not every activity suggested has to be included in a project. The way the project develops will depend on several factors—the program’s location, the time and resources available, as well as the children themselves. Their ideas about what directions a study of doors and gates might take are likely to emerge as the project progresses. Many other worthwhile experiences are possible beyond what is suggested here—and often the children themselves come up with related ideas to pursue.
Several steps may be involved for the teacher who is thinking about getting the class started on an investigation of doors and gates:
- considering children’s potential interest
- locating resources for firsthand investigation
- going to look at nearby doors and gates without the class
- making a topic web in anticipation of the project
- collecting reference materials related to doors and gates
These steps are discussed in detail below.
Considering Children’s Potential Interest
Preschoolers are likely to have a great deal of data about doors and gates! They may have noticed how the school bus door works. Their families may use “toddler gates” to keep younger siblings safe. They may know someone whose finger has been pinched in a cabinet door. Preschoolers can easily be encouraged to look more closely at the doors and gates that are all around them: How do people use doors? What are they made of? Who makes them? What are some different kinds of handles? Are there windows in the doors? Children’s curiosity about and interest in doors might take the project in directions the teacher might not expect!
Picture books and counting rhymes sometimes mention doors and gates in ways that are memorable to children. See Appendix B for a list of children's books that may be useful at the beginning of the project.
Locating Resources for the Project
Before starting the project, it is helpful for the teacher to explore available local resources and potential sites where children could safely study a variety of doors and gates. The school building itself is likely to have several kinds of doors, and more can be found on vehicles parked nearby. Nearby offices, shops, supermarkets, places of worship, health care facilities, farms, museums, and similar places may also be worthwhile sites to visit. Historical sites (especially those with restored older buildings) may also have interesting doors and gates. It’s a good idea to find out if the staff of these places will be receptive to having young children visit.
Local architects, contractors, cabinetmakers, auto-body repairpersons, locksmiths, and others whose work involves doors and gates can be invited to help the children with the project in a number of ways. Draftsmen or architects who are familiar with computer-aided drafting software may be willing to help some of the children use the software to design spaces with doors or gates.
If the classroom budget permits, the teacher might want to check local secondhand stores or flea markets for inexpensive used door and gate hardware that can be cleaned up for the children’s use. Printed materials such as catalogs or sale flyers from local hardware or home improvement stores may also be useful.
Looking at Doors and Gates before the Project Begins
Before launching the project, it helps if the teacher takes a walk to look in and around the building where the classroom is located, taking note of the various doors or gates that children can see there. Walking for a few minutes around the neighborhood may also turn up some additional examples.
It’s a good idea for the teacher to take photographs to show the class. The children may recognize some of the doors or gates and have experiences or ideas to share about them. The teacher might also bring some small doors (such as cabinet doors or doors from building sets) and samples of keys, locks, and other door hardware for the children to examine and discuss to provoke their initial interest in the project topic. Businesses such as a locksmith or hardware store may be willing to lend or donate some items.
Making the Teacher’s Topic Web
Teachers usually find it helpful to make a topic web before beginning the first phase of the project with the class. Below is an example of a teacher’s topic web about doors and gates.
The topic web above includes concepts, ideas, information, and vocabulary related to doors and gates that the teacher believes are worthy of the children learning more about. It is meant to help the teacher anticipate what the children might learn from the project, and to be a reminder of the wide range of possible subtopics that the children can investigate, rather than an outline of lessons or activities. (For more ideas about anticipating what children might learn from a project, see Project Approach: Anticipating What Children Might Learn.)
The teacher’s topic web can include elements such as types of doors and gates found indoors and outdoors, materials used to make different kinds of doors or gates, purposes of doors and gates, safety features of doors and gates, how people design and make doors, and the functions of various types of hardware, including keys and locks. The teacher’s web may also include specialized vocabulary related to doors and gates, as well as possible sites to visit and experts to invite.
Once the project is underway, the teacher might decide to make some changes to the initial web based on what he or she learns about the children’s interests, understandings (as well as mis-understandings), and knowledge of the topic.
Gathering Reference Materials
As the project begins, teachers can collect some good-quality references and other sources of information for their own use as well as to share with the class. A librarian can help with this process. Nonfiction picture books, encyclopedias, cabinetry catalogs, videos, and magazines related to architecture, home building, interior design, home improvement, and automobiles are likely to be useful throughout Phase 1 and Phase 2 of a project about doors and gates. Local historical societies or nearby natural history museums may have resources related to doors and gates from the past that teachers can check out. Blueprints of the school building can show children how architects and contractors represent doors and may even help children locate some of the doors in the building.
Appendix C lists additional resources that may be helpful, including some Web sites focusing on doors in the arts. A librarian can also help the teacher find other reliable Internet resources on topics related to doors. Keep in mind that although Wikipedia may be a source of basic information, it is notoriously inaccurate. (It is not a secure site, and users are sometimes able to insert misinformation.)
Planning for Documentation throughout the Project
The main purpose of documentation is to tell or represent the story of the project so others can see what occurred and so that the children can revisit it too. It’s a good idea for the teacher to decide before the door project begins how to document the children’s work during each phase. Many aspects of documentation during a project on doors and gates will be similar to documentation for any other project. On the other hand, as children find out more about the doors and gates in the classroom and the school, the doors themselves can become the focus of some of their documentation. For example, children may want to attach labels to a door naming its parts for visitors to see.
For resources to help with documentation during any project, see Appendix C.
- asking children to collect data outside of school to share with the class
- inviting them to recall prior experiences related to doors and gates
- posing provocative questions
- taking the class or small groups on a tour of places nearby to see doors and gates
- creating a topic web with the children
- helping the children form subtopic groups
- involving families in the initial phase of the project
Collecting Data Outside of School
One way to start the investigation of doors and gates is for the teacher to have children find out about doors and gates that they see where they live:
- Provide each child with paper, a clipboard, and black markers or pencils to take with them for an evening or over a weekend.
- Suggest to the children: “When you get back to where you live, take a look around and sketch the doors and gates that you see there.” (For ways to help children get started with sketching and drawing, see “Helping Children Sketch and Draw from Observation”.) Include a note to families explaining the homework.
- When the children return, invite them to share their drawings with their classmates. It often helps for the teacher to ask children before the class meeting what they want to tell the group so that they can rehearse what they want to say.
- Give children opportunities to compare the many things they have drawn. For example, which ones were indoors? Outdoors? What shapes were the doors they saw? Which ones had windows? Locks and keys? Which ones had round handles? Straight ones?
Recalling Prior Experiences Related to Doors and Gates
As the children talk about their drawings of doors and gates, it is likely that some of them will recall and bring up related personal experiences. Perhaps when one child shares her drawing from home, a classmate will say, “That drawing looks like my grandma’s refrigerator door! But her fridge has magnet letters, and I can spell my name.”
Some of the children may be reminded of personal stories that are unrelated to the sketches: “We had to get a new pasture gate after the river flooded.” “One time our cat climbed on the screen door, and her claws got stuck.” The teacher can invite the class to continue sharing memories over several days. To include children who are slow to recall their experiences, or who may be reluctant to speak, they can be invited to do so several times. The teacher might tell one of his or her own experiences as well.
Asking children to draw or paint something that they recall about doors or gates is another way to help them share their memories. The teacher can then write down the children’s dictated memory stories. These stories and drawings can give an idea of what sorts of experiences children have had, as well as what misconceptions they may hold and what subtopics may interest them.
Sometimes listening to a book related to doors or gates can remind children about their own experiences. (See Appendix B for lists of children’s picture books related to the topic of doors.) The slide show in the previous section, which shows a wide range of doors and gates, might also spark discussion among the children about the topic.
Posing Provocative Questions
Asking provocative or probing questions about an “everyday” topic such as doors can help children to see ordinary things in new ways. One such question might be, “What might happen if we didn’t have doors?” Another question could be, “If all of the doors in the school disappeared, what do you think might happen?” The teacher can list the children’s responses. The teacher might then follow up by saying something like, “You have thought of a lot of the ways that doors are useful to us. Now I wonder—what are some differences between a gate and a door?”
The teacher might also pose questions based on observations of the children's daily activities; for example, “This morning I saw Pascal and Genevieve pointing to letters on the front door. I wonder—do you suppose that any other doors in the school have letters on them?” Another way to focus children's attention on doors and gates around them is to ask questions such as, “How many doors do you think people walk through to get from this classroom to the playground?”
Making Observations of Doors and Gates at School
The next step might be for the children to walk around the school building (inside and out), where they can closely observe cabinet doors, appliance doors, interior and exterior doors, gates, locks, etc. If possible, the walk can be extended to include the neighborhood. If enough adults are available to help supervise them, small groups of the children (three or four per group) can walk in different directions to find doors. If too few adults are available, one teacher or an assistant can take three or four of the children at a time while the others remain with another teacher in the classroom or on the playground.
During the walk, the teacher or other adults can do several things to help children collect data:
- Have the small groups stop occasionally to talk about the doors and gates that they have noticed.
- Let each child carry a clipboard, some drawing paper, and a pencil and encourage them to sketch what they observe or to take photographs.
- Make time for the group to measure doors and gates using standard or nonstandard methods.
- Remind the children that later on they will be asked to describe what they have observed to classmates who were not with them.
It’s a good idea for the teacher to keep a record of what children pay attention to and wonder about during these first observations. This information can help foster discussions among the children throughout Phase 1 and Phase 2. It can be especially useful during the children’s webbing process and when they are working with the question table. (See discussion of the question table below.)
Upon their return to the classroom, the small groups can report to the class about what they saw and what they included in their photos and drawings. The teacher can encourage children in different groups to compare the doors that they have observed and to ask each other questions about what they noticed:
- Invite them to talk about some things they noticed about the doors and gates they saw (colors, textures, size, shape, writing on the doors, etc.).
- Ask the children to share and compare their drawings: What are some ways that these doors are similar to each other? What are some ways that they differ? “Adrienne, you drew a screen door at home. Robby, you sketched your screen door, too. Let’s look at both pictures. What are some ways that you think the two doors are alike? Different?”
- Suggest comparing the children’s sketches from home with what they drew at school.
Creating a Topic Web with the Children
After the children have begun to talk during group meetings about doors and gates at school and elsewhere, it’s a good idea for the teacher to help them create a topic web. The topic web discussion should focus on children’s current understandings and their ideas about how to proceed with the project:
- What do the children already know about doors and gates?
- What would they like to find out about various doors and gates?
- Whom do they think they could talk to about doors and gates?
- What places could they visit to help them find out more about doors and gates?
As the children talk about what they know, what they think, or what they wonder about, the teacher can write the words directly on the topic web paper or on a sticky note. Very young children, or children who have little experience with projects, might not say much at first during the webbing process.
From time to time, the teacher may want to remind children of things they said during earlier conversations about their memory stories and drawings.
Making the topic web may take more than one group meeting session, depending on the children’s ages and the range of their experience with the topics and with webbing. When it seems that the children have offered all of their current ideas and questions about doors, the teacher can invite them to help categorize or group the sticky notes. For example, if several sticky notes are related to car doors, the children might group them separately from sticky notes about garage doors or locks and keys.
Helping Children Ask Questions and Make Predictions
The teacher can develop a question table as shown in the examples below, based on the questions that the children ask:
|What would you like to find out? (Question)||What do you think the answer might be? (Prediction)||What did you find out? (Answer?)|
|Does every door in the school have a lock on it?||No, because the restroom door doesn’t lock.||
|How do car doors stay on the car?||Because wires hold them on.
Strong magnets are keeping them there.
|How do bus doors open and close?||The bus driver pushes a metal stick and that makes the doors open.
People push on the doors.
|How come the grain elevator has a door high up off the ground?||Because people need to get out of there, and they can use a rope to get down.||
For more information about making and using a question table, see Lilian Katz’s blog entry titled “The Question Table” on the Illinois Projects in Practice Web site.
It’s a good idea to post the question table on the wall where children, with the teacher's help, can refer to it regularly during all phases of the project. Teachers can encourage children to continue asking questions throughout the project in a variety of ways:
- Ask the children what they want visiting experts to show them and to talk about. For example, the teacher might ask, “When the cabinetmaker comes, what would you like for him to show us?”
- Help children restate “wonderings” as questions. For example, if a child says, “I want to know if my mom’s wheelchair fits through all the doors at school,” the teacher might say, “So your question is: ‘Are all the doors in the school big enough for a wheelchair to get through?’”
- Encourage children to ask questions when their classmates report findings from fieldwork during Phase 2.
- Write new questions on the question table as the children raise them during fieldwork.
- Suggest other ways that the children might express their questions (for example, drawing a picture of something that they are curious about).
Predicting possible answers and sources of information is another important part of project work that can begin during Phase 1 and continue throughout the project. When a child asks a question, the teacher might ask that child, or the whole class, “What do you think the answer might be?” or “What do you think the visiting expert will say when you ask her that?” Occasionally the teacher can ask “What makes you think so?” to encourage children to explain their predictions. Children may also want to make drawings that represent their predictions.
Children’s engagement in making predictions may vary with age and experience. The teacher can also encourage children to make predictions about other things throughout the project:
- Which books or other resources do they think might help them answer a specific question?
- What do they think they will see on a site visit? (For example, “Do you think the farmer will push a button to open the barn door?” “Winona thinks that the hotel doors will all have numbers on them. Jamar, what do you think about that?”)
- What might happen during “experiments” or explorations that they design? (See discussion in Phase 2 below of explorations and experiments.)
Forming Subtopic Groups
If several children show interest in the same question about doors or gates, they can form a subtopic group to try to find answers to the question. Another approach to subtopic groups is for the teacher to ask a small group of children to focus on a particular door, gate, or type of hardware. For example, several children might want to find out all they can about baby gates. Three or four others might investigate the tools used to install doors, while a few may be curious about doors to ovens, refrigerators, or other appliances.
The teacher can be involved with subtopic groups in several important ways:
- Use what one knows about the children’s social relationships when subtopic groups are forming to help guide subtopic group formation to increase the chances that members of each group will be able to work well together.
- Work with each group to help the children decide what they might do to get the information they need. For example, the subtopic group that is interested in hinges will benefit from particular references, experts, and site visits. A group that is trying to find out how revolving doors work will probably need to use different resources.
- Help each group locate resources to address its questions.
Involving Families during Phase 1
It's a good idea to send notes to families letting them know that the class is studying doors and gates:
- Inform families about plans for the project (potential site visits, visiting experts, etc.).
- Include what the children have said and done so far about the topic.
- Encourage family members to make their own sketches and photos of doors and gates for the children to bring to school.
- Ask for specific help from family members. Are they willing to come to class to share interesting experiences related to doors or gates? To talk about making or installing doors for a job or hobby?
- Suggest that family members help children recall their experiences with doors and gates.
- Invite family members whose home language is not English to tell the teacher or teach the class words in their languages that are related to doors and gates.
- Suggest that, from time to time, parents informally ask their children to talk about what they have found out recently about the topic.
Children might take surveys home so they can ask family members and neighbors such questions as, “How many door keys do you have?” or “Do you have a screen door at your work?”
- gathering data on the doors and gates at home, in school, and in the community
- interacting with visiting experts
- visiting other sites to look at doors and gates
- collecting items related to doors and gates
- conducting experiments and explorations
- participating in activities related to benchmarks in language arts, math, social studies, physical development and health, and fine arts
- reporting to classmates about what they have found out
These activities are discussed in detail below.
Gathering Data on Doors and Gates
One of the teacher’s key roles during Phase 2 of a project is to facilitate children’s firsthand experiences related to the topic. These activities may vary based on the children’s ages and prior knowledge of the topic. Here are some examples of things that the teacher might do during the project on doors and gates:
- Arrange for children to investigate doors, gates, etc., in a variety of settings—indoors, outdoors, in school, at home, in businesses, on cars in the parking lot, in restaurants, in museums, and so on.
- Suggest that small groups of children focus on particular kinds of doors (for example, sliding doors, automatic doors, revolving doors, hatches, or security doors) or gates (for example, turnstiles or baby gates).
- Provide children with clipboards, paper and pencils, and cameras, if available.
- Offer magnifiers so children can take a close look at textures and construction features (such as doorknobs, hinges, etc.) of the doors, gates, etc., they encounter.
- Give each group time to sketch and photograph doors or parts of doors. For example, the children might want to sketch many door handles to record the similarities and differences among them.
- Provide crayons and paper so that children can make rubbings to show surface textures of various doors and related objects.
- Suggest that children collect artifacts related to doors. For example, a child might ask a parent to lend the class a level that she uses when installing doors or to pick up a sale flyer featuring doors and gates from the home improvement store.
- Encourage the children to…
- notice whether specific doors or gates open into a space or outward from it, and to talk about why it works that way.
- notice colors, textures, and other properties of the materials used to make doors and gates.
- list different types of materials used to make an object (for example, a gate might be made of wood, metal mesh, and solid metal).
- pay attention to the hardware and other materials used to make or install a particular door or gate (for example, bolts, screws, glue).
- use a tape measure, Unifix cubes, or nonstandard measuring tool to measure such things as the height and width of a gate, how high off the floor doorknobs are, etc.
- keep a record of such things as the number of locks on various doors or the different kinds of doors in the school building.
- notice unusual or identifying characteristics of particular doors or gates—vehicle doors and hatches, closet doors, turnstiles, elevator doors, etc.
- notice safety features of various doors and gates, such as locks, safety glass, etc.
- record their data on paper by sketching, writing, making tally marks, etc.
Interacting with Visiting Experts
It’s a good idea to help the children generate a list of potential visitors who have relevant expertise and can provide information about doors, gates, and related subtopics. The list might include some of the following people:
- People who design doors and gates for buildings, vehicles, boats, etc.
- People who make, install, or repair doors, gates, etc. (such as carpenters and building contractors)
- People whose work involves locks, keys, etc.
- Dollhouse makers
- Interior designers
- People who buy doors and gates for schools or businesses
- People whose work involves getting in and out of vehicles (buses, tractors, fire trucks, boats, etc.)
- People who work in places with specialized doors and gates (bank vaults, airplane hangars, boats, hospitals, train stations, etc.)
- People who use wheelchairs
Some experts may be willing to correspond with the children via email if they are not able to come to the school.
The teacher may have several roles in inviting these experts to talk with the class:
- Arrange the visits, perhaps with a few of the children helping to make an invitation or dictate an email message.
- Suggest that children draw or dictate their questions for the expert prior to the visit.
- Help them rehearse their questions to make the best use of the expert’s time with the class.
- Provide the guest with the children’s questions prior to the visit. (Many visiting experts like to know ahead of time what the children want to ask them.)
Making Site Visits
If necessary, a class may be able to conduct their investigations without leaving the school building or grounds. However, visits to sites away from school via bus or car can provide valuable opportunities to study types of doors and gates not available at school.
The teacher might want to keep in mind that site visits should be made by subtopic groups as much as possible. When children in a subtopic group have decided what their questions are, the teacher can help them to decide where they might go to find the answers: A park? A farm? A bank? The local historical society or museum? Occasionally, a whole-class visit to a site (a door factory or museum, for example) can be useful, particularly if each child or small group of children has specific data to collect.
During the site visit, children can use the same data-gathering techniques described in the section “Gathering Data on Doors and Gates” above, such as making observational sketches, taking notes, and collecting artifacts (with permission). They may also have opportunities to ask questions of people who work or live there. (See “Interacting with Visiting Experts” above.)
On their way to a site visit, children can examine the doors on the cars, buses, or trains in which they are traveling. On outdoor site visits, the teacher may want to remind the class to follow the usual safety procedures for outdoor activities (for example, wear sunscreen, avoid poison ivy, dress warmly in winter, do not litter). It is a good idea for the teacher to remind children to ask permission to touch things or to collect artifacts during any visit.
Creating Collections of Artifacts and Specimens
Helping the class build and maintain a collection of artifacts related to doors and gates can be another important role for the teacher during Phase 2 of the project. Here are some ways that the teacher might help:
- Invite families to add to the classroom collection.
- Suggest that children gather related items from home (with parents’ permission).
- Ask owners of local shops, etc., to lend the class some door-related items.
- Set aside a specific part of the room for the collection to be kept.
- Provide time for children to explore the collection. (See “Examining the Collection” below.)
During a project on doors and gates, the class may be interested collecting some of the following artifacts or specimens:
- advertisements for doors and gates
- toy vehicles with working doors
- construction sets that include doors and gates
- dollhouses with doors
- small tents that have a variety of doors
- hardware, tools, and other items (without sharp edges) that are used to make, install, and repair doors or gates, including locks
- different types of mesh used in screen doors
- a variety of door keys, doorbells, door knockers, and door openers (such as for garage doors)
- magazine pages or other illustrations of doors and gates
- other items from field visits and visits with visiting experts
As children add to the collection, the teacher can help them label each item with its name, the date it was collected, where it was collected, and the name of the person who provided it. Children may be interested to know that the term for such documentation of artifacts is “provenance.” Some teachers use boxes with dividers to organize smaller items with their provenance.
Teachers may also want to bring in items to add to the collection, especially if there seem to be “gaps” (for example, no hinges or locks).
Children should have many opportunities to examine items in the collections and to make observational sketches and drawings of them.
Incorporating Science Activities
As children learn more about doors during Phase 2, they may have questions that can best be answered through planned scientific explorations or experiments. Such activities may include closely examining items in the collection, trying out different designs for doors, gates, hatches etc., and setting up experiments.
Examining the Collection: Children can learn a great deal by examining objects in the class collection. Teachers might encourage this activity in several ways:
- Call children’s attention to new items that are added to the collection.
- Offer magnifiers so children can examine the collected items closely.
- Ask them to describe what they notice—textures, smells, colors, sounds, etc.
- Provide balance scales, spring scales, tape measures, etc., so children can weigh and measure the items in the collection.
- Let children take some items apart to see how they work. Various locks and other mechanisms may be especially interesting to the children.
- Invite them to sketch or photograph what they observe. Extreme close-up “macro” views can be an interesting challenge for some children.
- Ask provocative questions: “What do you think these things are made of? What holds them together? What do you think people use them for?”
- Suggest that children add their sketches and photographs of items in the collection to a display or book that tells the story of the project.
Designing, Making, and Testing Doors: Some children may want to create scale models of the doors they have studied or design their own doorways, gates, hatches, etc. Others may want to build small houses with doors for insects or pets. As they do so, they will have opportunities to learn the principles of design and engineering used by adults who create such things. The teacher can help with this process in several ways:
- Provide paper so children can draw their initial plans.
- Ask them about the purpose of the objects they want to design—a door to keep water and laundry inside a washing machine? A deadbolt? A gate for a dog run? A revolving door? A triangular tent door?
- Offer a wide range of construction materials for the children to choose from—large boxes, clay, pieces of untreated wood, wire, pipe cleaners, plastic interlocking blocks, drinking straws, paper clips, “boxes and junk,” fabric, netting or screen material, commercial construction sets (for example, Lego or Tinkertoys), magnets, a variety of fasteners.
- Talk with individuals about the materials and tools needed. What materials does a child think might work well for making the door she has designed, and what makes her think so?
- Help children think through how to change their plans if the materials they want to use are not available or have not worked as well as they expected.
- Encourage children to consider comfort and safety in their designs. (“Check and see if the beetle could escape under the door of your insect house.” “Your plan shows a door with no hinges and no latch. How can you keep it from falling over?”)
- Arrange for parents or other volunteers to assist the children with tasks such as drilling or nailing.
- Talk with the children from time to time as they test their designs. Find out how they are dealing with such problems as balance, movement, and the sturdiness of materials. Invite them to talk about their designs during class meetings.
- Suggest that children ask each other for ideas to help solve design problems. (“Emma and Charlie, you were trying to get the rear door of the truck you built to go up and down. Jalen and Ephrain had the same problem with their garage door. You might go ask them to show you what they did.”)
Setting up Experiments: As children continue to investigate doors, a number of questions may arise during the project that can be addressed through planned experiments:
- Which material will make a stronger model of a gate—wood, plastic, or heavy cardboard? What are some ways to test the gate’s strength?
- Is it possible to make a dollhouse door that opens and closes properly but has only one hinge?
- Can a fan blow hard enough to make the classroom door blow shut? Can the same fan blow a car door shut?
For an example of how one teacher facilitated children’s explorations and experiments, see “Magnets and Cars”.
Incorporating Language Arts and Literacy Activities
Introducing New Vocabulary: Learning words to accurately describe various doors and gates and their parts will be valuable to children’s growing understanding of the topic. The ages of the children involved may affect what words and concepts they learn and use. Subtopic groups may also learn some specialized vocabulary. For example, a group studying car doors will probably hear and use words such as shell, relay, molding, and door check.
The following list includes some terms that children might encounter during a project about doors and gates. Some of the terms will be useful and some may not, depending on the questions the children address. The teacher can help the class find and record the definitions.
- Push bar
- Raised panel
- Revolving doors
- Pocket doors
- Weather stripping
- Wrought iron
- French door
- Wire gate
- Wicket gate
- Storm door
- Door knocker
- Rough opening
- Energy efficient
- Batwing doors
Some older preschoolers may want to explore different uses of the words “door,” “lock”, “gate,” and related terms—for example, indoors, outdoors, doorman, door prize, bar the door, locked up, locked in/out, gatekeeper, starting gate, or down the hatch.
Some children may be interested in print messages found on doors and gates, including room numbers and such words and phrases as “Open,” “Exit,” “Emergency Exit,” “Keep Out,” “Danger,” “Please Use Other Door.” The teacher can encourage them to use these numerals, words, and phrases in their drawings and to find out the purposes of those messages.
Writing in the Context of the Project: Teachers can suggest a variety of writing activities during Phase 2:
- Encourage children to label the parts of their field sketches, drawings, and photographs.
- Invite them to make lists of the words and numerals they see on doors and gates during fieldwork.
- Help them add their own labels to professionally made schematic drawings (such as a drawing of the inside of car door).
- Suggest that some of them dictate or write the “story” of what occurred during a site visit. This activity can be done at group meeting so that children can compare their own recollections with those of their peers and decide what happened first, last, etc.
- Let them dictate or write thank-you notes to visiting experts, the librarian, parent helpers, and others who assist with the project.
- Invite older preschoolers to explain complex concepts and relationships between objects as the teacher writes their words. For example, if a child says, “A gate is more open than a door,” the teacher might ask her to explain what she means.
Using Books and Other Reference Materials: It is helpful during Phase 2 for children to have regular access to good informational picture books, magazines, and other resources directly related to doors and gates. Children can look at these resources on their own, or an adult can read them aloud. Key tasks for the teacher during all phases of the project include providing such reference materials. Here are some examples:
- books and other resources that label parts of doors, gates, hatches, etc.
- books and other resources that show and identify types of doors and gates (including magazines and books about home improvement and architecture)
- books and other resources that explain how people make different types of doors and gates
- books and other resources with information about jobs related to making, installing, and repairing doors, gates, etc.
- reliable Web resources that may address children’s questions about doors, etc. (See Appendix C for teacher resources.)
Incorporating Math Activities
As the fieldwork progresses, the teacher can suggest a wide range of math-related activities that help children answer questions and express new understandings, depending on their ages and experiences:
- Use standard and nonstandard measurement tools to measure and compare the height and width of various doors, gates, etc., in the classroom and elsewhere. Cardboard brick blocks, Unifix cubes, clothesline, and measuring tapes are among the items that children may want to use to measure.
- Investigate symmetry in doors and doorways.
- Find answers to such questions as, “Which doors in the school are used most often?” “How many doors in the school are made of wood?” “Which door is the smallest?” “How many doors do/don’t have locks? How many locks have keys, and how many are electronic?”
- Make charts or graphs of findings to show comparisons among various doors and gates—their shapes or sizes, the types of materials used, etc.
- Keep a record of the shapes of the doors or gates they see. How many are rectangular? Square? Triangular? Round?
- Sort and categorize tools, door hardware, keys, and other collected artifacts.
- Select photos or sketches that illustrate comparisons among types of doors and gates (for example, the widest gate and the narrowest gate).
- Find out how long it takes (months, weeks, days, hours) to make or to install a screen door, a security grille, a gate, etc.
- Develop a “time line,” storyboard, or set of cards showing the sequence of steps for processes such as installing a door, a doorbell, etc.
- Use protractors, flexible curves, and similar tools to investigate curves and angles in the design of various doors, door hardware, etc.
- Find and compare the costs of specific doors and door hardware, using a catalog, the Internet, or other resources. (This activity may be suitable for older preschoolers and kindergartners.)
- Conduct surveys of classmates and family members that ask questions related to doors and gates. Children can tally and report their results.
- Lay butcher paper on the floor under a door and tape a pencil to the door’s outer edge at the bottom so that it touches the paper. Predict what kind of line it will make when the door swings—a straight line? A curve? A zigzag? Test the predictions. What happens when the pencil is taped to another part of the bottom of the door? Experiment on doors of different sizes and compare results.
- Some older children may want to observe an architect or draftsman using drafting software to design spaces with doors, gates, and hatches.
Incorporating Social Studies Activities
During Phase 2, some children may want to investigate the ways that people use doors and gates. The teacher can encourage them to try a range of related activities, depending on their ages and experiences:
- Make maps or floor plans showing where doors are located in some familiar spaces such as the classroom, the playground, or a local business. Children may also want to find out how the placement of the doors affected furniture arrangement, etc.
- Create a display of their photographs and sketches of doors and gates, which children can label with the location and other information about the photographs.
- Keep a list of the different uses people have for doors or gates.
- Make a display of photographs, sketches, and magazine cutouts of people working with doors or gates (making them, installing them, putting in doorbells or knockers, etc.)
- Look at books and other resources that show a variety of doors and gates from around the world. Compare the different types of doors and gates used in different places.
- Ask family members who have lived or traveled outside the United States to share photographs of doors and gates from the places they have been. Do the same with types of vehicle doors.
- Develop surveys and interview questions that allow them to investigate other peoples’ perspectives on doors:
- What sorts of doors or gates do people use (or see) at home? At work? When they travel?
- Do people have furniture at home that has doors?
- How do people decide what kinds of doors or gates they want to have? What goes into their decisions about doorknobs, doorbells, door knockers, etc.?
- How do people decide how much money a door should cost, or a doorbell, etc.?
Incorporating Fine Arts Activities
During Phase 2, the visual arts, creative movement, drama, and music can offer a variety of ways for children to represent what they find out about the doors and gates around them. The fine arts may also provide sources of information. The teacher might try several approaches to engaging the children with the fine arts, depending on their ages and interests:
- Share CDs that feature classical, folk, or popular music related to doors and gates. Examples might include Mussorgsky’s “The Great Gate of Kiev,” a movement from his suite “Pictures at an Exhibition: A Remembrance of Viktor Hartmann”; the English folks songs “Who at My Door Is Standing” and “Frog Went A-Courtin’”; and “The Wheels on the Bus.”
- Share art prints, children’s book illustrations, and artists’ Web sites that depict doors and gates. Encourage the class to discuss the different ways that artists, artisans, and illustrators represent doors and gates—their uses of color, line, and other artistic elements to convey information or feelings. Examples include Viktor Hartmann’s painting of the Great Gate of Kiev, Shonto Begay’s In My Mother’s Kitchen or Free from the Tethers of Motion, Edward Hopper’s Artist’s Bedroom in Nyack, Henri Matisse’s Interior at Nice, Vincent van Gogh’s The Yellow House, and Claude Monet’s series of Rouen Cathedral at different times of day.
- Show the class photographs of doors designed by well-known architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Sullivan.
- Invite children to talk about aesthetic elements in the design of various doors: What do they find “beautiful” or appealing in the design or decoration of a particular door? Let them use multiple media to represent a special door they would like to have for their home or classroom.
- Suggest that small groups of children decorate a school door to look like a unique door that they found interesting during the project (for example, a barn door or the entrance to a local historical site).
- Offer crayons or chalk and paper so that children can make rubbings of keys, hinges, screens, and other small items related to doors and gates.
- Photocopy children’s various representations of doors, gates, and related items for them to cut out and assemble into a collage.
- Talk with the children about sounds that are associated with doors (for example, the click of a lock, the squeak of a hinge, etc.). What do they think causes those sounds?
- Invite the class to compose or improvise their own music using parts of doors and gates or by imitating the sounds using their own voices.
- Suggest that children work in small groups to find ways they might move their bodies to represent doors, gates, etc., or to pantomime closing or opening doors.
- Invite children to create a performance involving doors—opening and closing doors, climbing on a gate, hiding behind a door, installing a door, getting fingers caught, etc.
Incorporating Physical Development and Health Activities
Doors and gates serve many health and safety purposes for people. From time to time during the project, the teacher may want to initiate some discussions about how doors and gates can help keep people safe and healthy:
- Ask children to share their ideas about how doors and gates help people be healthy and safe: How do specific doors or gates provide privacy? What are some ways that they protect people (or their animals or belongings)?
- Encourage them to talk about how to use doors and gates safely. Help children notice that words on some doors may contain safety messages (such as “Keep Out” or “Not an Exit”). Some children may want to make posters about door safety.
- Introduce children to built-in safety features of doors, such as deadbolts, shatterproof glass, etc. Show them doors that have been specially made for protection, such as fire doors, security grilles, or hurricane-proof doors.
- Find an expert who would be willing to answer questions about how people try to make doors and gates safe when they design and build them.
The teacher might also help the class address such questions as, “What does a person’s body do in order to close a door? Open a door?” Children can take turns opening or closing various doors (heavy ones, lighter ones, automatic doors) so that classmates can observe what is involved in the process.
Debriefing after Fieldwork
It’s a good idea to make time for subtopic groups to report to the class regularly about how their investigations are progressing and what they have found during fieldwork. It can also be an opportunity to ask their classmates for suggestions and questions they might have about the subtopic.
The teacher might facilitate these discussions in several ways, depending on the children’s ages and interests:
- Have the small groups briefly rehearse what they want to say before they report.
- Help the children “tune in” to differences and similarities that they have observed among doors, gates, and other items they are studying (for example, materials used, location, purpose, sizes, shapes, structure).
- Suggest that children use any new terms they have learned during their fieldwork and explain those terms to their classmates.
- Refer children to the question table: Does this group’s report include some answers to earlier questions?
- Encourage shy or reluctant children to talk about what they have observed when they feel ready.
- Suggest that children talk to each other about their ideas, findings, and questions.
Involving Families in “From Door to Door” during Phase 2
Multiple opportunities for family involvement are likely to arise during Phase 2 of a project on doors and gates. Teachers can use their newsletters or special invitations to engage families in a variety of activities:
- Send home small kits of construction toys, with notes asking family members to work with their children to create models of doors.
- Create “homework” that asks children and family members to list or sketch various doors in the neighborhood or at home.
- Create some homework to encourage families to find out together about doors in the community. For example, children and parents could count the number of doors in a restaurant near home, or they could sketch the doors they see in a movie theater or on a delivery truck.
- Ask family members to bring in photographs of doors that they have seen on their travels away from the community.
- Remind family members to look at “From Door to Door” documentation that is displayed in the classroom.
- Suggest that family members help out with site visits or with supervising and assisting children who are making models of doors or gates.
- Invite family members who build, install, or repair doors to serve as visiting experts.
- Have children ask their family members survey questions related to doors and gates (for example, “Did you ever fix a broken door?” or “Do you have a locker at work or at home?”). For more ideas about surveys in project work, see “The Project Approach: Children Taking Surveys” and “Helping Children Take Surveys”.
- Ask families to send in clean reusable items (“boxes and junk”) for children to use when constructing models of doors and gates.
- Ask families to lend the class some tents with a variety of openings for indoor or outdoor play.
A project about doors and gates might last from 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on what resources are available and the extent of the children’s interest. The teacher can help the children bring the project to a close in several ways:
- Revisit the question table with the class.
- Facilitate children’s use of their new knowledge in their play.
- Assist with plans for displaying their documentation.
- Work with them on plans for a culminating activity.
- Invite families to participate in a variety of ways throughout Phase 3.
It is important to keep in mind that a culminating activity may be very simple or more elaborate. Much will depend on the topic, the children’s ages and experience, and the resources (time, materials) available. There is no single right way to end a project.
Revisiting the Question Table
As the study of doors and gates begins to wind down, the teacher can look at the question table with the class or with individual children:
- Which questions have they answered?
- How did their predictions compare to their findings?
- Which questions are still unanswered, and what might be done to find answers?
- Do some of the children seem to misunderstand anything about the topic?
- What might be done to address their misconceptions?
If the teacher sees that some “answers” actually indicate misunderstandings, it’s a good idea to suggest to the children that they look further. Sometimes the children will catch each others’ errors during a discussion of the question. At other times, the teacher may need to direct the children’s attention to the problem. For example, a teacher might comment, “Some of you are saying that the turnstile you saw in the train station is made of wood. Some of you say it’s made of metal. Can you think of a way to find out for sure what it’s made of?”
The children may also want to contact some of their visiting experts or consult books and other references to answer remaining questions or to clear up misunderstandings.
Children’s spontaneous play may reflect new knowledge and understandings of doors and gates throughout the project, but especially during Phase 3 when they can apply what they have found out about using, designing, making, repairing, selling, and buying various doors and gates. Depending on the ages and interests of the children, teachers might take several approaches to encouraging such play:
- Share action songs and fingerplays that include lines about doors (for example, several counting songs rhyme “four” with “door” and “eight” with “gate”). (See Appendix C for links to some songs.)
- Read or tell older preschoolers some simple “knock-knock jokes,” and encourage them to share the jokes with their families and friends.
- Teach games that involve doors in some way (for example, “Colored Eggs” is an active game that involves pretending to knock on a door; The Secret Door is a commercial board game for young children).
- Encourage children (especially older preschoolers) to create their own active games, guessing games, or board games that incorporate what they have learned about various doors and gates.
- Provide materials for children to make models of doors and gates, door parts, and repair tools to use in dramatic play—blocks, construction toys, boxes, etc. Suggest making a full-sized door or gate from cardboard or other lightweight material to use in the dramatic play area.
Planning for Final Displays of Documentation
When the children’s questions about doors have been addressed, or when their interest seems to be moving to some other topic, the teacher can suggest that it is time for the class to plan how they will display their findings from the project. The teacher’s involvement in this process may vary with the children’s ages and levels of experience:
- Have children plan displays that “tell the story” of their work—their questions, the data they collected, and what they were able to find out about doors and gates. Encourage them to think of creative ways to display their documentation.
- Ask the subtopic groups, “What are some ways that you could share with other people what you found out about doors and gates?” Help them record and refer back to their ideas.
- Help the subtopic groups select drawings, photographs, 3-dimensional models, and other items they have made for display.
- As children complete their representations of specific doors or gates they have seen, ask them to photograph their representations and the original door or gate. Both pictures can be arranged side by side on paper, with labels, as part of a class book about the topic.
- Let the children write or dictate captions for their work.
- Suggest that they include specimens and artifacts that they collected, such as parts of doors, tools used for making or installing doors, catalogs showing doors, and so on.
Planning a Culminating Activity
A key decision for the subtopic groups is how best to share their new knowledge, understandings, and skills with others. The children may then decide as a class that they want to take on a complex final activity, such as putting together a performance or hosting an event when others can view displays of their work. They might prefer to plan a less-complex final activity such as making a slide show for the school Web site or a book that can be passed around among families. Some groups may be able to handle these decisions with little teacher input; others will benefit from some adult guidance.
The teacher can meet with the small groups to discuss the children’s decisions:
- Ask the children questions such as, “What do you especially want others (for example, parents or another class) to know about your study of doors and gates?” “What do you think might be especially interesting to (your father, your little sister, the principal, etc.)?”
- As needed, inform the children of limitations such as time, space, and money that may affect what they can do for culminating activities.
- Serve as an advisor when the groups run into challenges.
- Provide the materials requested by the groups.
- Let the children do the work.
- Help the children set and stick to deadlines for completing their representations.
As the investigation ends, children may feel inspired to imaginatively express what they have been learning about doors and gates as part of the culminating activity. The teacher can foster their creative work during Phase 3 in several ways, depending on the children’s ages and interests:
- Introduce the work of local and widely known artists and artisans to inspire children to express ideas and feelings about doors and gates.
- For example, Illinois artist Gerald Guthrie often uses doors in his mysterious, surreal images. (See A Blessing in Disguise.) The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Web site offers teacher materials related to an exhibit of doors.
- Other unusual images that feature doors or gates include René Magritte’s The Unexpected Answer or The Balcony and M. C. Escher’s Relativity, Balcony, or Waterfall.
- Help the children find out about artists who treat doors or gates as art.
- Let the children represent something of particular interest to them related to doors and gates. For example, Rashad may want to arrange the door keys he has collected into a pattern and glue them on a piece of wood, while Martina would like to make up a song about doors in her house. The teacher can consult with children about what they want to do and provide the fine arts materials such as wood, foam core, paints, clay, wire, and other media needed for these projects.
- Share picture books with the children that include poetry and fantasy stories involving doors and gates. Suggest that the class act out stories that involve doors and gates, such as those mentioned in Appendix B below.
- Invite children to create their own poetry, music, original stories, or dance related to doors and gates.
Involving Families during Phase 3
Family members often enjoy seeing what children have done and learned during a project. As the investigation of doors and gates comes to a close, the class may think of a variety of ways to share their work with their families. Here are some ways that teachers can help:
- Let children create invitations to family members to view the displays of documentation.
- Display photos, sketches, or models made by family members along with items the children have made.
- Include family members’ photos and sketches of doors and gates along with their words in a class book about the project.
- Provide volunteer opportunities for family members during preparation for the culminating activities (for example, helping children type their poems or stories into a computer for publication).
- Invite parents to reflect on their children’s participation in the project (for example, by asking them to use “comment cards” next to different parts of the children’s display).
This Project Guide is meant to suggest possibilities, to support the teacher who wants some ideas for ways to get started with a project like “From Door to Door,” or to help maintain momentum once an investigation is underway.
It is important to remember that the children themselves are likely to find many worthwhile ways to investigate doors and gates. In fact, as children pursue what interests them, any project may end up with a main focus very different from what was originally expected. A study of doors and gates could become just a small part of some other topic that engages the minds of many children in a class.
“From Door to Door” slide show and additional photographs by Durango Mendoza. Permission for photographs from Wolfe Orchard, Monticello, Illinois, given by Ron and Hope Wolfe. Permission for photographs of doorknob art given by John Bryan. Permission for photographs of appliances and hardware given by Lowe’s of Champaign, Illinois. Permission for photographs of emergency vehicle given by Urbana Fire Rescue Services Department. Photographs of locomotives and railroad cars taken at Monticello Railway Museum by Durango Mendoza.
Thanks to Becca Johnson for document review.
Appendix A: 2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Benchmarks Addressed During a Project on Doors and Gates
The following table suggests some of the benchmarks from the 2013 Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards that might be addressed during a project on doors and gates.
|Benchmark||Benchmark Is Addressed When…|
|1.A.ECc Provide comments relevant to the context.||
…children participate in making the topic web.
…small groups and individuals report their findings.
…children comment on classmate’s findings.
…children contribute to discussion of what to do for a culminating activity.
|1.B.ECa Use language for a variety of purposes.||
…children make comments or ask questions during discussions about doors and gates throughout the project.
…children dictate labels or captions for their drawings and other representations.
…children dictate questions that they want to ask guest experts.
…children explain their findings to others.
…children write/dictate invitations or thank-you notes to guest experts and other adults.
…children negotiate roles during dramatic play that is related to what they are learning about doors and gates.
|1.B.ECb With teacher assistance, participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners (e.g., peers and adults in both small and large groups) about age-appropriate topics and texts.||
…children help to create a topic web as a class.
…in small groups, children decide what they want to find out about their subtopic and where to get information.
…children talk or correspond with experts on the topic of doors and gates.
…children discuss books and other resources about doors and gates with classmates and teachers.
…children help to plan a culminating activity.
|1.C.ECa Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with teacher assistance, provide additional detail. View sample lesson plan||…children report to the class about what they have done during field work, answering questions from classmates and teachers to clarify what they have said.|
|1.D.ECc Understand and use question words in speaking.||
…children develop a list of their questions about doors and gates.
…children plan questions they will ask guest experts.
…children create surveys of classmates, family members, and others.
…children question each other about their findings.
|1.E.ECb Exhibit curiosity and interest in learning new words heard in conversations and books.||…children ask about and begin to use specialized vocabulary related to doors and gates that they hear during field work.|
|1.E.ECc With teacher assistance, use new words acquired through conversations and book‐sharing experiences.||…children accurately use new vocabulary related to doors and gates into their conversations, questioning, labeling, dictations, dramatic play, and representations of what they have learned.|
|2.A.ECa Engage in book-sharing experiences with purpose and understanding.||
…children use books to find information about doors and gates.
…children create books to report what they have learned about doors and gates and share the books with classmates and others.
…children create books that include their original stories or poems related to doors and gates and share the books with classmates and others.
|2.C.ECa Interact with a variety of types of texts (e.g., storybooks, poems, rhymes, songs).||
…children use reference works, magazines, informational books, advertisements, and the Internet to find answers to questions.
…children listen to and tell stories that involve doors and gates.
…children look at diagrams, instruction sheets, and schematic drawings related to doors and gates.
……children find printed words, numerals, etc., on the objects they are studying, such as manufacturer’s labels.
…children make their own books, diagrams, etc.
…children sing songs related to doors and gates.
…children learn and tell “knock-knock” jokes.
|2.D.ECa With teacher assistance, discuss illustrations in books and make personal connections to the pictures and story.||
…children discuss the various ways that artists depict doors and gates in books, paintings, drawings, sculpture, etc.
…children illustrate their own books involving doors and gates.
…children listen to and act out stories that involve doors or gates, such as “The Three Little Pigs.”
|3.A.ECa With teacher assistance, ask and answer questions about details in a nonfiction book.||…children use nonfiction books as sources of information about doors and gates.|
|5.B.ECb With teacher assistance, use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic. View sample lesson plan||
…children dictate labels or captions for field drawings and photographs.
…children write or dictate what they have found out during field work.
…small groups report to the class about what they have observed or found out, using their drawings as visual aids.
|5.B.ECc With teacher assistance, use a combination of drawing, dictating, or writing to narrate a single event and provide a reaction to what happened.||…children tell what happened during a site visit, interview, or experiment by drawing, writing, and/or dictating to an adult.|
|5.C.ECa Participate in group projects or units of study designed to learn about a topic of interest.||
…in large or small groups, children discuss what they want to find out about doors and gates.
…children follow up on their own questions during field work.
…children actively investigate many aspects of doors and gates.
…children share information with classmates and others in a variety of ways.
|5.C.ECb With teacher assistance, recall factual information and share that information through drawing, dictation, or writing.||
…children use newly acquired knowledge when they illustrate, dictate, or write their findings and ideas related to doors and gates throughout the project.
…children help create displays of their work for parents and others to see.
|6.A.ECa Count with understanding and recognize “how many” in small sets up to 5.||
…children count items they observe (knobs on a door, doors in the school, etc.).
…children count items they will need for their representations, such as pieces of wood to make a model of a gate.
…children count out items (photographs, drawings, artifacts) to be used in displays.
|6.A.ECd Connect numbers to quantities they represent using physical models and informal representations.||…children create models or other representations that include correct numbers of parts such as panels, hinges, latches.|
|7.A.ECc Use vocabulary that describes and compares length, height, weight, capacity, and size.View sample lesson plan||
…children describe or discuss differences and similarities in length, height, and weight of various doors and gates they have seen during field work.
…children discuss differences in size and weight of various types of door and gate hardware (hinges, bolts, etc.).
|7.A.ECd Begin to construct a sense of time through participation in daily activities.||
…children investigate how long it takes to build or install a door or gate.
…children keep to a schedule for completing their representations of what they have found out.
…children help to plan, prepare, and host a culminating activity.
|8.A.ECa Sort, order, compare, and describe objects according to characteristics or attribute(s).View sample lesson plan||
…children discuss or make drawings that show the ways various doors and gates are similar to or different from each other.
…children sort collected items such as bolts, screws, keys, and locks when making real graphs, Venn diagrams, etc.
…children use drawings to illustrate differences among various doors and gates.
…children use words such as high/low, large/small when discussing doors and gates they have observed.
|9.A.ECa Recognize and name common two- and three-dimensional shapes and describe some of their attributes (e.g., number of sides, straight or curved lines).||…children discuss and describe examples of collected tools and hardware (hex wrenches, wedge doorstops, rectangular or triangular hinges, etc.) for doors and gates.|
|10.A.ECa With teacher assistance, come up with meaningful questions that can be answered through gathering information.||
…children say what they would like to find out about doors and gates.
…children talk about potential ways to find the information they need.
|10.A.ECb Gather data about themselves and their surroundings to answer meaningful questions.||
…children closely study various doors and gates, noticing aspects such as textures, odors, sounds, and visible properties (size, patterns, colors, etc.).
…children use a variety of methods to collect information, including observation, counting, measurement, and experimenting.
…children collect and study artifacts and specimens related to doors and gates.
…children interview experts about doors and gates.
…children take surveys of peers and family members on topics related to doors and gates.
|10.B.ECa Organize, represent, and analyze information using concrete objects, pictures, and graphs, with teacher support. View sample lesson plan View module for activities||
…children use objects they have collected as examples when they report findings.
…children collaborate to make graphs, charts, or Venn diagrams using information related to doors and gates.
…children make accurate and detailed pictures or models of doors and gates.
…children organize drawings, photos, and other documentation to tell the story of their investigation of doors and gates.
|10.B.ECb Make predictions about the outcome prior to collecting information, with teacher support and multiple experiences over time. View module for activities||
…children predict possible answers to their questions about doors and gates.
…children speculate about possible outcomes of an exploration, experiment, or survey.
…children check their findings against their predictions.
|11.A.ECa Express wonder and curiosity about their world by asking questions, solving problems, and designing things.||
…children ask “what, how, when, or why” questions or state what they want to find out.
…children find solutions to challenges throughout the project, individually or with others.
…children design experiments to answer specific questions related to doors and gates.
|11.A.ECb Develop and use models to represent their ideas, observations, and explanations through approaches such as drawing, building, or modeling with clay.||
…children use a variety of media to create representations of what they have seen or learned during the project.
…children create items related to doors and gates (a door for a block structure, pretend tools, etc.) for their dramatic play.
|11.A.ECc Plan and carry out simple investigations.||
…children plan explorations or experiments that address specific questions, such as “How do these deadbolt locks work?” or “Is cardboard a good material for a door?”
…children carry out the explorations and experiments and share their findings with classmates.
|11.A.ECd Collect, describe, compare, and record information from observations and investigations.||
…children take notes and make sketches during field work and use them to report findings to classmates.
…children notice and discuss differences in their findings (e.g., “The door I sketched has 4 panels. You drew a door that has no panels.”).
…children help to create displays showing what they have found out about doors and gates.
|11.A.ECf Make meaning from experience and information by describing, talking, and thinking about what happened during an investigation.View sample lesson plan||
…children revisit their initial questions and predictions to discuss how their understandings about doors and gates have changed.
…children discuss and think about what they especially want others, such as parents or another class, to know about their investigation of doors and gates.
…children bring ideas and information about doors and gates into their dramatic play.
|11.A.ECg Generate explanations and communicate ideas and/or conclusions about their investigations.||
…children decide on formats (mural, booklet, video, open house) to use for sharing what they have found out with others.
…children summarize their knowledge and understandings about doors and gates in ways that are accessible to others (for example, a list, a display of models with explanatory notes, a guided tour of doors in the school building).
|12.C.ECa Identify, describe, and compare the physical properties of objects.||
…children talk with each other about the structure of various doors and gates.
…children explore and discuss properties of a variety of materials (metal, wood, glass, etc.) used to make doors and gates.
…children discuss what makes certain materials better than others when making doors and gates.
|12.D.ECb Explore the effect of force on objects in and outside the early childhood environment.||
…children test the strength and durability of different materials (cardboard, wood, etc.) when making models of doors and gates.
…children test the holding power of glue or fasteners they use when making models of doors and gates.
…children investigate what is involved in opening and closing doors and gates, including revolving doors, bus doors, and security gates.
…children investigate sounds (creak, slam, click, etc.) associated with doors and gates.
|13.B.ECa Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.||
…children use magnifiers, binoculars, levels, plumb lines, and other tools to examine various doors and gates.
…children use string, tape measures, unit cubes, etc., to measure various doors and gates.
…children use protractors to help them draw objects or measure angles.
…children weigh hardware and other items used in construction of doors and gates by using balance scales, spring scales, etc.
…children investigate drills, screwdrivers, and other tools used in making and installing doors and gates.
|13.B.ECb Become familiar with technological tools that can aid in scientific inquiry.||
…children use digital cameras to record data about doors and gates.
…with adult help or independently, children use the computer to find and record information about doors and gates.
|15.A.ECa Describe some common jobs and what is needed to perform those jobs.||
…children interview people whose work involves doors and gates (architects, builders, bus drivers, farmers, locksmiths, etc.).
…children examine the tools used by people who make or repair doors and gates.
…children report what they have learned from people whose work involves doors and gates.
…during dramatic play, children take roles of workers who are involved with doors and gates.
|15.D.ECa Begin to understand the use of trade or money to obtain goods and services.View sample lesson plan||
…children investigate prices of various doors, gates, hardware, and tools.
…children investigate costs of installing doors and gates.
|16.A.ECa Recall information about the immediate past.View sample lesson plan||
…children report to others about what they have learned during fieldwork.
…children create a time line (with adult help) to show the steps involved in their field work.
…children bring ideas from their field work into their dramatic play.
|17.A.ECa Locate objects and places in familiar environments.||
…children can identify doors, gates, and related items in the classroom, on the playground, or at home.
…children use terms such as beside, across, around, at the top, etc., to describe the location of a particular door or gate.
|17.A.ECb Express beginning geographic thinking.||
…children describe some aspects of where doors and gates are located, such as “the metal gate on the playground” or “the door to the broom closet.”
…children help make a map of the classroom or other settings, showing where certain doors and gates are located.
|18.A.ECa Recognize similarities and differences in people.||
…children interact with a variety of people whose work involves doors or gates.
…children take surveys of classmates, family members, and neighbors about experiences and habits related to doors and gates (such as “Did you ever pinch your finger in a gate?” or “How many door keys do you have?”).
…children take a variety of roles in dramatic play related to doors and gates.
|19.A.ECe Use writing and drawing tools with some control.||
…children use pencils, pens, markers, or crayons to make observational sketches and drawings.
…children explore the use of protractors and other drawing aids when drawing doors and gates.
…children make signs, etc., for dramatic play related to doors and gates.
|19.B.ECb Demonstrate body awareness when moving in different spaces.View sample lesson plan||
…children explore how their bodies move when opening or closing doors or gates.
…children pretend to use doors or gates during creative movement activities.
|23.A.ECa Identify body parts and their functions.||…children discuss which parts of the body are involved in locking, unlocking, opening, and closing a variety of doors and gates.|
|25.A.ECd Visual Arts: Investigate and participate in activities using visual arts materials.||…children use a variety of visual media (painting, photography, videography, sculpture, etc.) to represent what they have learned about doors and gates.|
|25.B.ECa Describe or respond to their creative work or the creative work of others.View sample lesson plan||
…children discuss the creative processes (making models, painting, dramatics, etc.) involved in representing what they have learned.
…children talk about the ways that various artists depict or use doors and gates in their work.
|26.B.ECa Use creative arts as an avenue for self-expression.View sample lesson plan||
…children use a variety of visual materials to express their ideas, feelings, and new understandings about doors and gates.
…children use creative movement, drama, and music to express ideas, feelings, and understandings about doors and gates.
|30.C.ECa Exhibit eagerness and curiosity as a learner.||
…children participate willingly in a variety of activities related to the project.
…children involve their families in some activities related to doors and gates.
|30.C.ECb Demonstrate persistence and creativity in seeking solutions to problems.||
…children persevere when faced with challenges when creating models and other representations.
…, as needed, children try multiple approaches to tasks such as explaining ideas, making graphs, or carrying out experiments.
|30.C.ECc Show some initiative, self-direction, and independence in actions.||
…children involve their families in some activities related to doors and gates.
…children develop surveys and ask classmates, teachers, and family members to participate.
|31.B.ECa Interact verbally and nonverbally with other children.||
…children ask classmates questions or respond to questions from classmates during group discussion.
…, in small groups, children plan ways to investigate doors and gates.
…children collaborate with peers to make models, create displays, write books, etc.
…, with peers, children play games or engage in dramatic play related to doors and gates.
|31.B.ECb Engage in cooperative group play.||
…children play games with classmates related to doors or gates.
…children’s dramatic play involves doors or gates.
Some teachers like to start a project by sharing well-written, accurate informational books or articles from children’s magazines. Having reliable factual information—whether from the text or the illustrations—is especially important for children during Phase 1 and Phase 2. Realistic fiction (stories that do not involve magic) may be appropriate during all phases of project work.
Children’s direct experiences with doors and gates can help them respond to the descriptive language of poetry during Phase 3. Magical elements in folktales and fantasy stories related to doors or gates may engage the imaginations of some children during Phase 3. Children may also enjoy looking at the different ways that illustrators of picture books represent doors and gates.
The following lists of books and other items may be useful during a project on doors and gates. The lists are not comprehensive; teachers may know of additional books.
Informational Picture Books
Below is a sample of books that can provide factual information about various aspects of doors and gates—how they are made, how people use them, various parts of them, and so on. The books listed contain some text and illustrations that preschoolers might find helpful, but many were written with older children in mind. The teacher might talk about specific pages with subtopic groups or during class meetings, or she might make the books available for children to browse through.
- What’s Inside? by Giles Laroche. Houghton Mifflin, 2009.
- Inside Freight Train by Donald Crews. HarperFestival, 2001.
- An Apartment House Close Up by Peter Schaaf. Four Winds Press, 1980.
- Houses and Homes by Ann Morris. HarperCollins, 1995.
- The New Way Things Work by David Macauley with Neil Ardley, Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
- Housebuilding for Children: Step-By-Step Guides for Houses Children Can Build Themselves (2nd ed.) by Lester Walker. Overlook TP, 2007.
- Woodshop for Kids by Jack McKee. Illustrated by Rusty Keeler. Hands On Books, 2005.
Realistic Fiction Picture Books
The following picture books are fiction with no magical elements. Some contain several illustrations that depict doors or gates, and others include doors or gates as part of the plot or involve people going in and out of doors or using gates, etc.
- Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia (15th anniversary ed./Edición quinceañera) by Carmen Lomas Garza. Children’s Book Press, 2005.
- Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber. Sandpiper, 1975.
- The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Greenwillow Books, 1989.
- Deron Goes to Nursery School by Ifeoma Onyefulu. Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2010.
- The Line Up Book by Marisabina Russo. Greenwillow Books, 1986.
Picture Books of Poetry
The following picture books feature poems and rhymes related to doors or gates.
- A Carpenter by Douglas Florian. Greenwillow Books, 1991.
- Don’t Slam the Door by Dori Chaconas. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. Candlewick, 2010.
- Subway by Anastasia Suen. Illustrated by Karen Katz. Viking, 2004.
- Night Train by Caroline Stutson. Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. Roaring Brook Press, 2002.
Picture Books of Folktales and Fantasy
Doors and gates are important to the plot in a number of traditional stories (folktales and fairy tales), including Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Gingerbread Man, and Little Red Riding Hood. The following list of picture books also includes folktales and fantasy writing involving doors and gates.
- Bandit’s Surprise by Karen Rostoker-Gruber. Illustrated by Vincent Nguyen. Marshall Cavendish, 2010.
- There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer. Penguin Putnam, 1968.
- Willa and the Wind by Janice M. Del Negro. Illustrated by Heather Solomon. Marshall Cavendish, 2005.
- The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007.
- Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard, E.P. Dutton, 1926.
- The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. E.P. Dutton, 1928.
- Knock, Knock by Saxton Freyman et al. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2007.
A number of books have doors or doorlike flaps as part of their illustrations, including the following.
- Yum! Yuck! by Linda Sue Park & Julia Durango. Illustrated by Sue Rama. Charlesbridge, 2005.
- Machines Go to Work by William Low. Henry Holt, 2009.
- Grandma and Me by Karen Katz. Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Music for Children
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences “kids” Web site provides lyrics and instrumental audio for many popular children’s songs, including several that mention doors or gates, including “Frog Went A-Courtin’,” “This Old Man,” “In a Cabin in the Woods,” and “Playmate, Come Out and Play with Me.”
Other Sources of Music
- European Playground, Putumayo World Music, 2009 (Biella Nuei sings a track titled “Tarantainas de la casa sin pared,” which mentions a house without doors. In Spanish.)
- African Playground, Putumayo World Music, 2003 (the track titled “Hoya Hoya” by Seleshe Damassae mentions a door).
The following resources—encyclopedias and other reference books, magazines, articles, Web sites, and so on—may be useful to the teacher during the project “From Door to Door.” The lists below are not meant to be comprehensive. Teachers may know of additional resources related to doors and gates, and a librarian may be helpful in locating others.
Books, Magazines, Encyclopedias, and Related Resources
These books may offer the teacher background information, as well as some ideas to use in the classroom during a project on doors and gates.
- Fences & Gates: Plan. Design. Build by the editors of Creative Homeowner. Creative Homeowner, 2002.
- Doors by Bob Wilcox. Firefly Books, 2009.
- The Language of Doors by Paulo Vicente & Tom Connor. Artisan Books, 2005.
- Doors of the World by Jean-Philippe Lenclos & Dominique Lenclos. W.W. Norton, 2005.
- Build Like a Pro: Windows and Doors by Michael Dresdner. Taunton Press, 2002
Articles in magazines such as Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, Architectural Digest, and others may include interesting photographs and information about doors and gates.
Teachers may also want to locate and use entries related to doors, gates, and other entryways in the World Book Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc.
Resources about Projects on Similar Topics
The teacher may find it helpful to look at articles by teachers who have implemented projects that involved investigating structures and spaces that have doors, gates, and other entryways. For example, see the following.
- “The School Bus Project” by Ruth Harkema
- “Faces to the Window: ‘The Construction Project’” by Julia H. Berry & Elizabeth Allen
- “The House Project” by Laura DeLuca & Sandy Dunn
- “The Library Project” by Candy Ganzel & Jan Stuglik
Web resources that are not directly related to doors and gates may also provide ideas for the teacher during the door project. Concepts and suggestions from the following Web sites may be adapted for preschool.
Web Resources Related to Doors and Gates
Several major door, gate, and turnstile manufacturers have Web sites that feature drawings, photographs, or descriptions of their products. Some include a glossary for visitors to their sites. Some home improvement and hardware stores have sale flyers online, which children can use to check prices of doors and related items.
- The Door Book—Volume 1, an online book by Michael Dobson, includes striking photographs of doors from around the world.
- Open and Shut: Artists’ Doors from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art offers teacher materials related to an exhibit of doors. The photographs may be interesting to the children, and some activities can be adapted to preschool.
- Lincoln’s New Salem State Historical Site offers a virtual tour of New Salem buildings on its Web site. The doors to a number of the park’s 1830s-style log structures are visible in the photographs.
Sesame Street’s video archive includes some short clips related to doors.
Other Resources Relevant to Project Work
The teacher may find helpful information and suggestions in the following books, videos, and Web resources during any project, including a project about doors and gates.
- Windows on Learning: Documenting Young Children’s Work by Judy Harris Helm, Sallee Beneke, & Kathy Steinheimer. Teachers College Press, 2007.
- Getting a First Project Started with Young Children
- The Project Approach Catalog 4: Literacy and Project Work edited by Judy Harris Helm
- Projects in Inclusive Early Childhood Programs by Rebecca K. Edmiaston
- Rearview Mirror: Reflections on a Preschool Car Project by Sallee Beneke
- Documenting Projects
- Experiencing Documentation: The Turtle Project
- The Project Approach: Display and Documentation Techniques by Sylvia Chard
- The Project Approach: Helping Children Ask Questions.
- IEL Tip Sheet: Path to Math: Classification About
- IEL Tip Sheet: Path to Math: Real Graphs for Preschoolers About
- IEL Tip Sheet: Path to Math: Measurement with Young Children About
- IEL Tip Sheet: Path to Math: Geometric Thinking for Young Children About
- IEL Tip Sheet: Project Approach: Children Taking Surveys About
- Helping Children Take Surveys
- IEL Tip Sheet: Predicting: Helping Preschoolers Look Ahead About
- Problem Solving in Early Childhood Classrooms