Friday, April 27, 2012

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs and Birds!

Younger Classes, April 23-27, 2012

Room 15 AM 
We have been doing an exploration of bugs and their habitats over the past couple of weeks in the Younger Class.  We have been reading books, looking at real bugs, creating our own bugs in their own habitats, helping to tell stories about bugs and making up our own.  We have even been watching caterpillars as they grow.  At this point almost all the caterpillars have made a chrysalis and we are anxiously watching for the butterflies to emerge.  We have been careful to mark the progress on our chart - so far we are at Day 20!  Here are some of the highlights of this exploration:
One day we talked about different kinds of habitats where insects live.  Then we decided what kind of habitat to make for an imaginary bug.  We used glue and different kinds of things like grass, sand, rocks, and flowers to create our bug habitat.
The next day we created bugs out of play-dough and all kinds of collage materials to live in our habitats.  We told a story about our bugs and took a photo so that we could remember it.

On another day we watched and learned about real garden snails as they moved about in something we called a "snail circus".  They are amazing creatures and we enjoyed watching them and learned to be very careful so they would not be hurt.

We had fun playing a snail board-game and recorded which snail won each race by putting a sticky-dot on a graph.

On another day we followed a recipe to make our own snack which was called "Ants on a Log".  Most people agreed it tasted good but lots of them thought it was a funny name for something to eat!

RM 19 AM
Bugs, bugs ... We love bugs!
After planting and gowing their grass, the younger class made bugs with playdough, feathers, chenille stems and googly eyes to add to their gardens.  We also observed snails and watched them crawl across a wire, through a tunnel, climb a slide and make watercolor tracks.

RM 15 PM
Our generous parent helpers enrich our curriculum in many ways.  One of those is by involving the children in preparing their own snacks.  On Tuesday, a parent brought an apple corer and peeler and gave each child a chance to turn the crank.  Yesterday our parent helper brought the makings for "Bugs on a Log," and each child placed their raisin "bugs" on their celery and peanut butter "logs."  Some of the other benefits of snack time are the chance to practice independence (pouring water, passing the serving dish, etc), practice table manners (using those "magic words"), and slowing down enough to enjoy casual conversation with one another.  Yesterday, the slower pace of our snack time enabled us to observe a bird outside our window.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scavenger Hunt, Dinosaurs and Grocery Store

Older Classes, April 16-20, 2012

Room 15 PM
Here are some pictures from our recent scavenger hunt in the woods next to our playground.  We spent some time talking about what signs of spring we might find on our walk, and then headed out to see if we could spot the items that had been "planted" by one of the teachers. Among the found objects were a nest, some eggs, moss, and a realistic-looking bird.  One child even spotted a nest that had not been planted.  We were careful not to disturb the mama bird that was preparing a nest for her babies.

Back in the classroom, Teacher Meryl created a tree on one of our bulletin boards with paper, paint, wire and some moss from a craft store.  One of the branches is holding a bird statue in a nest, and there's a (stuffed animal) chipmunk scampering up the trunk.  The tree has blossomed with flowers that the children have created.

Room 15 AM
Several of the children in our classroom this year are very interested in dinosaurs so with the goal of building upon and extending their interest, we have been doing an exploration of dinosaurs over the past couple of weeks.  We have done many fun art and math activities related to this topic, read lots of stories and learned songs about them.  The most popular of all the activities, though, seemed to be the making of Dinosaur Land.
We began by using the paper-mache process to construct the basic land formation using a big box-lid as our base.  We looked at pictures in books to give us ideas for what we should include.  Of course, we knew volcanoes were important so we built two!

On the next day we used paint and all kinds of collage materials (rocks, sand, grass seed, etc.) to decorate our Dinosaur Land and make it look authentic.

For the next few days we had our Dino Land out on one of the tables along with plastic dinosaurs and lots of books about dinosaurs for the children to play with and explore.  There was lots of imaginative play and lots of discussion about dinosaurs in this area!

During Group Time we culminated this exploration of dinosaurs with the eruption of the biggest volcano.  As you can imagine there was lots of excitement  and lots of oohing and ahhing as we watched the volcano erupt.  We had done an experiment with baking soda and vinegar earlier in the year so the children figured out that was how we made the "hot lava" overflow but it still looked amazing and magical to all of us!

Room 19 AM
This week was the grand opening of our classroom grocery store.  It was a very popular activity with the students.  They took turns working the cash registers, shopping and stocking the shelves.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Kindergarteners Study Life Cycles

Spring is a wonderful time of year to take a closer look at the life cycles all around us. Trees and flowers are blooming, birds are building nests and at Small Friends we're very excited for our baby chicks to hatch.

Teacher Wil went to the farm last weekend and got a dozen eggs for our incubator. We put them in on Monday and children are counting down the days it will take for the chicks to make their way into the world. We've been reading lots of books about how the embryo will develop during its 21 days of incubation and children created their own timelines as well.

We've also been looking at trees and talking about the seasonal cycles they go through. Children sketched evergreen and deciduous trees with Teacher Sydney.

Then we did a project about how an apple tree changes from winter to autumn.

         Snow on bare branches...blossoms blooming....leaves and apples...colored leaves falling...

We'll be sure to post again when our chicks hatch (fingers crossed). Until then, enjoy the signs of spring and the cycles in the world around us!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Caterpillars, Shadow Screen and Nature Scavenger Hunt - Younger Classes, April 9-13, 2012

Caterpillars, Shadow Screen and Nature Scavenger Hunt

Younger Classes April 9-13, 2012
Room 15 AM
We are lucky to have a wonderful wooded area outside our school and try to take advantage of it whenever we can.  On a beautiful spring day at the beginning of this week we used it to go on a "nature scavenger hunt".  In preparation for this the teachers "planted" some natural items along the trail where the children would be able to have success in finding them.  Before going outside we talked about what kinds of things we would be trying to find.  It was exciting going into the woods on our search and, even though we knew what to look for, it was still challenging to find them since they were camouflaged in their natural setting - a good lesson for "budding naturalists".

Last week each child planted grass seeds in a cup.  We talked about what they would need to help them grow - including time.  We also made a chart so we could count the days until we actually saw some grass and each child got to guess how long it would take.  This week we were excited to see the grass growing!  Today, before sending them home, the children each made a flower as an art project to "plant" in their grass cups.  The cups all looked so pretty and colorful - a little bit of spring to make us smile.

Room 15 PM
We recently had an overhead projector and a shadow screen in the classroom. The children had great fun seeing their buildings enlarged on the screen and inserting themselves into the picture. They also played a "guess who's behind the screen" game, and we read stories that enhanced their understanding of how shadows are made and how they change size and shape depending on the distance and angle of the light from the object.

Room 19 AMWe noticed that some of our caterpillars are on the top of the box, getting ready to make cocoons.  We planted and watered grass seed.  We will be adding playdough bugs after it grows.  Some friends retold 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' story with the book and flannel board pictures.  The baby washing station was also very popular this week.  We heard one boy say, "our babies are really getting clean".