Skip To Main Content

To the Mountains We Go!

To the Mountains We Go!
Coral Balubar

Our inquiry journey has continued to lead us forward as we have used the children’s connections with Mānoa’s mountains to question and theorize. N.M.’s wondering, “How were Mānoa’s mountains made?” was an inspiring prompt to help us tap into prior knowledge while simultaneously opening our minds to possibilities. Once again, we engaged in theorizing, this time to ponder how the mountains that loom over our campus were created. One of the biggest reasons theorizing is so important for children is that it supports and requires risk-taking and out-of-the-box thinking. Theories are not about “being right” or “having a correct answer.” Theories are about allowing others a peek inside your mind--letting others in to see the world through your eyes. The children embraced this message wholeheartedly as they began developing their theories about mountains. You will notice that many of the children’s theories begin with the word “Maybe.” This word has been one that we utilize when theorizing. It is a simple, yet powerful word, as it allows the theorizer to develop ideas without the constraints of absolute truth. "Maybe" allows for possibilities, creativity, and imagination.Please check out some of the children’s theories below:




Over the last several weeks, we have moved from theorizing about how mountains were made to gathering information. When we gather information, it is important that the children have an understanding of the wide variety of sources for this information. In our nonfiction reading unit we have learned that texts are a valuable resource for gaining knowledge, but that is just one way. Together, we brainstormed a variety of ways that we could go about learning more about Hawaii’s mountains and finding answers to our wonderings and questions, and then we set to work using these resources to gather information.

We set out on our mission to gather information by watching short video focused on bird feathers. The video confirmed several of the ideas presented in several of the children’s theories, but also provided our inquirers with new takeaways as well:

  • The Hawaiian Islands and mountains were formed by underwater volcanoes. D.K.
  • Volcanoes build layer by layer, making the islands in weird shapes. S.S.B.
  • In a long time a new island will be made by the hot spot. It is called Lōihi. Lo. T.
  • Lava is smooth and builds in layers. N.G.
  • It’s called “magma” inside the earth and lava when it is out. J.K. 
  • Magma from the bottom of the earth breaks through the crust and is called lava. M.S.
  • The Big Island is the youngest, 400,000 years old, each island created goes from oldest to youngest. The oldest of our islands is Ni`ihau and Kauai. K.H.
  • The lava in Hawai`i is extra hot because it is from a hot spot. O.S.
  • Magma is inside the earth and lava is on the surface of the earth. R.Y.
  • It takes a long time for lava to pile on top of each other to make a mountain. N.M.
  • The hot spot doesn’t move and the top of the earth moves so there is more and more islands being made. A.T.
  • Magma goes through cracks in the earth and piles up, exploding and exploding to make a volcano and then a mountain and then an island. S.C.
  • When it is inside the earth it is called magma, and when it comes out, it is called lava. K.P.
  • The lava comes from inside the earth from the hot spot in the ocean and then layers on top to make the islands. E.P.
  • The Hawaiian Islands are special because they were made by a hot spot. R.K.
  • The lava piles on top of each other to make the islands. Le.T.
  • Our islands are special because the lava comes from a hot spot, which is different than other islands. N.G.
  • The hot spot is where the magma can rise up and form chains of volcanoes. H.R.S.
  • The lava in Hawai’i is really liquidy–different from lava in other places. -M.F.
  • The hot spot doesn’t move, but the islands move slowly. -S.B.
  • The earth cracks, and the lava escapes and comes out. Then it hardens. -N.R.
  • The Big Island is still growing, because it is over the hot spot, and a new island, Lōihi, will form in 200,000 years. -Z.R.

The children also engaged in an experiment to learn more about how the earth tectonic plates move and how the “hot spot” created the Hawaiian Island chain over millions of years. The children worked as partners, one designated as the “hot spot” (represented with Elmer’s glue) and the other as the slow moving tectonic plate. The children worked together to reenact the creation of the Hawaiian Islands. I also want to thank D.K. and N.G. for sending in materials for more volcano experiments!



Mo`olelo (Hawaiian Legends)
We have explored the mo`olelo, “Kahalaopuna,” which describes Kahalaopuna, the daughter of the rain and wind. She falls in love with Kauhi, but Kauhi betrays Kahalaopuna leading to his punishment. As a consequence for his actions, the sky gods turn Kauhi into a mountain so that he must stare at the sky in shame for all eternity. This mountain is the very Wa`ahila Ridge that we can see looming over our campus each day. We have also delved into the legend of Pele and her role in Hawaiian mythology in shaping the land through volcanic eruptions. The children have been so captivated by these stories, their eyes wide with wonder and excitement as they learn and gather information from so many different perspectives and vantage points.

Learning from experts is always special, and often we don’t have to look too far to find people with a wealth of knowledge to share! We tapped on our very own Ms. Leslie Gleim (Mid-Pacific Preschool Pedagogista) to share her experiences from behind the lens of her camera flying in helicopters! Ms. Leslie came to our class armed with breathtaking bird’s-eye view (and sometimes even higher than bird’s-eye!) aerial photos of various stages and settings of volcanic activity on the Big Island. Ms. Leslie and her photographs offered the children an immersive journey above lava flows, fissures, and landscapes, enabling them to witness firsthand the stunning beauty and formidable power of Pele.


Research Trips
Coming up this week we will venture to Wa`ahila Ridge to explore and learn from the mountain we have read about and observed from below. This research trip will allow us a new vantage point from which to gather information.

The journey continues, and to the mountains we go!

Latest Blogs