This was the lesson plan I used at Ms. Citrin's 4th Grade class at
LeConte School in Berkeley, CA on January 11, 2008:
I explained that I was here to talk about the concept of change. I
asked, "Have any of you changed?"-
(were you ever a baby?-can babies walk, talk, dress themselves?)
Anyone lost a baby tooth recently?
Anyone got a haircut?
Has anyone learned anything in school-to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, divide,
So every thing changes, but how do things change?--They change bit
by bit, then all at once you have its opposite. Pump up balloon (with a small bicycle pump) until it pops notes:
--close the classroom door--it's loud when it pops!
--practice at home; you may need to pinch the base of the balloon
with both hands to keep air from leaking out. That gives one of the
students a chance to pump up the balloon, which they enjoy
--use a small water balloon, not a big balloon, which would be too noisy
--explain--"The air inside the balloon is getting stronger and stronger
bit by bit, but the skin of the balloon is still strong enough to hold
it in. What will happen when the air inside is stronger than the skin?"
I wrote on the board-- Examples of opposites:
In the house___________
Out of school--_________
Consider three types of changes:
Planting a seed-The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss This is a book for very
young children so I suggested that they could read it to their
younger brothers and sisters to explain change to them.
Rain-manufacture a rainstorm in my popcorn popper I added about 1/4 cup
(100 ml) of water to an electric popcorn popper, put on the clear plastic lid,
and plugged it in. I asked, "What happens when water heats up?" The kids
answered, "It evaporates." And then, as the cloud of water started to form
in the popcorn popper, I said, "What happens when the air gets so full of
water that it can't hold it any more?" It rains--and that's what happens in the
popcorn popper--the water condenses on the sides of the popper and pours
down like raindrops.
Holding your breath--I asked everyone (including me) to take a deep breath and
hold it. I explained that, at first, everything is fine, you don't need any
more air right away. But bit by bit, you body tells you that it needs
more air, so you have to take a breath.
These three changes--a seed sprouting, raindrops falling, and taking a breath
are illustrated in the song, "Everything Changes Bit by Bit" on this site at
Dialectics, the Musical
I sang the song, asking the kids to sing along on the words "bit by bit" and "opposite"
I asked what kind of changes the kids would like to make. Answers
included saving money, bit by bit, to buy something they wanted; getting
smarter every day; getting stronger every day. Then I asked what
kinds of changes they would like to make in the world. Answers included
stopping global warming and stopping the war (the kids brought these up,
I ended with the question: How do things change?
and I got the answer "Bit by bit, then all at once" and I added
"you have its opposite"
A few days later the kids sent me a collection of thank you notes, which
you can read by clicking here.