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Sidewalk Flowers offers a wonderful opportunity for early childhood gifted education—Sidewalk Flowers, the book, is told without words. Nevertheless, the book is rich in poetic expression as well as emotional and intellectual depth. Sidewalk Flowers is the perfect vehicle for fostering talent development in grades Pre-K to 2. (You need only one copy of the book).
The related unit is full of inquiry, higher level thinking development, challenge, play, exploration, art, storytelling, and creativity . . . best practices for primary gifted education.
Because we should never separate cognitive intensity from emotional intensity, this primary-aged gifted unit also serves as a social-emotional lesson. As Susan Daniels, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Meckstroth, M.Ed., M.S.W. state in their chapter in Living with Intensity: “gifted children tend to be more intense, more sensitive, and more prone to experiencing emotional extremes.”
· Sidewalk Flowers Critical Thinking—little-kid style at a challenging level. As discussion … way more questions than you should use!
· Storytelling Extensions—primary gifted kids use storytelling, improvisation, role playing and their imagination. It’s best practices!
· Science and Technical Drawing—kids are encouraged to pay close attention to detail as they draw and color a real flower just like naturalists have been doing for hundreds of years.
· Blossoming—the social-emotional component in which kids think about the people and things they value most. It’s a little kid GATE version of a social-emotional lesson.
· Shadows—we learn about shadows and their relationship to the sun in the sky and the time of day. Lots of skills to challenge kids in this activity!
Guided as Well as Independent Learning and Exploration
For some portions of the unit, the learning is guided by the teacher, a para-educator, or a parent volunteer. Other tasks can be handled more independently (at least after instructions are given). If students are flexibly grouped by ability for literacy rotations, this lesson will be appropriate for the students who show the highest potential.
Most schools do not formally identify students for gifted programming until 2nd or 3rd grade, so this unit encourages talent development for potential and high ability—for students who may or may not be formally identified gifted learners one day in the future. The NAGC recommends this talent development approach of talent development and meeting needs for our youngest gifted learners.
Within this unit you will find a variety of activities to choose from—much more than you will need to use. In fact, you probably should NOT do EVERYTHING here. Keeping in mind that the most effective talent development for primary GATE offers opportunities for appropriate challenge and higher-level thinking, for play and exploration, and for creativity, many of these activities cross over between all of these categories. Choose what suits you, your kids, and your supervision opportunities best.
Gifted learners are whole people! Their intellectual abilities cannot be separated from their social-emotional and spiritual lives. Think of it this way: Giftedness is a physical trait as well as cognitive and emotional ways of being. A gifted person’s brain is hardwired to work on many frequencies, zip and zap across hemispheres, make connections others would not see, and construct meaning from the most unlikely places. It is no wonder that gifted learners experience the world in a more intense emotional, spiritual, and physical way.
For this reason, Sidewalk Flowers is designed to serve as a little-kid-sized social-emotional exploration as well as an intellectual challenge. In an age-appropriate way, we explore relationships, family, graciousness, and even touch on death here.