How do I use thinking routines in kindergarten? Below is an example of one of our recent activities.

Age Group: Kindergarten 5 years old
Students’ Background: This is the students’ second year in our Early Years Program. The native language of the learners is Turkish, English is their second language.
I showed a surrealistic work of Vladimir Kush ‘Departure Of The Winged Ship’ (attached) and worked with my children one-on-one. I started to reveal the students’ thinking by using ‘See-Think-Wonder’. This routine helped to develop a better understanding of what the children noticed and made connections from small objects to big ideas. For example, one child first said that he saw ‘water’, then he clarified that it might be ‘a sea’ and in a few seconds he added that he saw ‘rocks that might be a land’.
At some point I also asked my children what made them think the way they thought especially when they started to describe things they noticed.
S: “I see people… bad people!”
T: “What makes you think that these people are bad?”
S: “They want to catch butterflies!”

After asking the main question of STW routine one of the children said he thought that there was a story and I caught myself on trying the routine ‘Beginning, Middle, End’
I was very surprise because this routine helped my little people make more observations, connect what they noticed before and encourage them to use their imagination to extend their ideas. It was great to see children being very reflective to this routine that I assume was encouraging students to look for connections and meanings. This routine encouraged them to make a story and many children enjoy it.
In the Artful Routine booklet it was mentioned that this routine is “especially useful as a writing activity”. I would like to underline that from my experience using this artful routine with 5 years olds in Kindergarten, by telling their stories was very powerful and their stories were influential.
I asked a few students to draw the end of the story that they imagined while looking at the masterpiece of Mr.Kush.
I document the STW routine by posting the artwork on a big piece of paper and I used post-its to display children’s thinking. But I stuck post-its gradually to show how ‘seeing’ turned into ‘thinking’.

Here are three examples of stories that three kindergarteners came up with by using the Artful Routine “Beginning-Middle –End”

bmend thinking routine


Student 1.Kaan’s story
“I think people in this story are bad people. They catch butterflies. I think butterflies want to travel to a butterfly land. They all sit on a ship that will take them to the Butterfly Land. The butterflies were very big and the ship became heavy and it got broken. Here it is… this part of the ship is broken. So… the butterfly could not go to the land of the Butterflies and they stopped here where the bad people were waiting for them.
How can we rescue butterflies?”
Student 2. Boran’s thinking
“I think this boat is broken and butterflies help carrying the boat.
What happened before … I think the ship cracked on the rock and these people were catching fish.
I think the butterflies will bring the ship to the land and after rescuing that ship they will return to their homes.”
Student 3. Atahan’s story:
“I see water… boat…This ship is floating on water. I see clouds … this is evening. I see butterflies… They will fall asleep. Waterfall… the butterflies are looking for the waterfall.
People… bad people… they want to catch butterflies… they want to fry them and eat them.
I see a butterfly (on the left) … it is not on the ship… this butterfly can swim…. The bad people can’t catch this butterfly.”

The above mentioned stories are typed and displayed next to the artwork in the classroom in the Art Center. These stories will be in the children’s portfolios.