Concept Maps in Kindergarten
Concept maps were used in 21 schools of the MIUR Pilot Project "Le parole della scienza" with the participation of 6,000 Italian children to promote meaningful learning. The experience with concept maps described in this paper refers to scientific language teaching to 4-5 year old children in kindergarten. In 2003-2004 school year 56 children built concept maps in two different classes. Children produced a total of about 180 maps on their notebooks regarding manipulation experiences with the following objects: pumpkin, nest, papier-màché, vintage, cement, water, orange, sand.
Another significant aspect of the experience in Falconara Alta is the creation of concept maps with drawings, following manipulation and clinical conversation with the teacher. Concept maps proved useful because they stimulated and facilitated children's reflection on experience and experience organization, making meanings and knowledge emerge in children. The comparison and sharing of learning favored the development of verbal and iconic language as well as socialization. In Meaningful learning Joseph Novak writes: "We found out that concept maps are a useful system to help teachers organize knowledge for teaching and a good method for students to discover the key concepts and principles contained in lessons, readings, and other teaching material." The experience with 4-5 years old children in Falconara kindergarten is consistent with Novak's fmdings.