Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Small Friends Garden - Teacher Marah

We are very fortunate to have a lovely strip of gardens outside of our classrooms. We do projects throughout the year to take "nature outside" with the children visiting the garden, and bringing "nature inside" when we cut flowers we have planted or dig in dirt from outside. It "takes a village" to keep our garden in shape and the garden committee is one that parents can choose to be on. Several times a year, we have a garden day and families come and work in the garden. We had one just a few weeks ago to get the garden ready for summer. Families came and spent a few hours on a Saturday morning.


It was really fun because some siblings came and helped out too.

Each of the teachers take a turn coming to one of the garden days.

We have really been enjoying our garden this year. One of our parents, master gardener Mariano Masolo, offered to help redo the garden last year and make it more child friendly. We now have some raised beds and some perennials and other bushes that are green year round. We really appreciate all of the work that Mariano put into making our garden even more enjoyable.

Visit Mariano's website to learn more about his landscaping business: 

We appreciate the garden committee for helping to make our garden grow and be an amazing experience to share with all of our small friends.

Artists in Bloom - Teacher Meryl

Walking down the hallway to our classroom you will see some beautiful artwork by the children from the morning and afternoon older classes. This activity was inspired by the artist Georgia O'Keeffe and her paintings of flowers. Observing the different way each child  approached this activity and the amazing results they achieved makes it one of my favorites.

We learned a little about the early days of Georgia O'Keeffe's life, how growing up on a farm gave her a lifelong love of nature.

Georgia O'Keeffe loved to look closely at flowers observing their detail, but also their simplicity. We noted how she covered her canvas with color using just one or a few flowers, putting in more detail at the center with stamens and a different color. Teacher Sydney set up a little art gallery of Georgia's work for us to look at.


Then the fun began!

Words used during the painting of this flower.... "Look I'm an artist!"

Concentration.. filling in the background.

Big, bold strokes.
Here the blank piece of paper was almost too overwhelming, but with encouragement and a starting point of a large circle the end result was gorgeous. 


Our own Small Friends Art Gallery.




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Glyph making in Kindergarten - or how to be a detective...

In Kindergarten, we have been trying something new this year in math.  We have been making glyphs!  Glyphs are a way of showing a large amount of data through pictures.

The first time we made a glyph, the lesson was very teacher directed.  (As teachers, we learn as we go along too!) Each child decorated a butterfly, but the decorations described themselves and their family life.  Questions about gender, age, birth order and siblings were all answered.  Each child made their own butterfly, but we did the steps together as a class.

The second glyph was also tied into our current theme of learning about insects.  This time, the chart was read to the children, but they had to figure out on their own what their glyph would end up looking like while following the “clues”.  Students were able to do this task with far less help than with the first glyph.  

The glyph "clues".

The boys made caterpillars...

...while the girls made ladybugs.

The children then wrote about what “bugs” them.  We ended up with lots of cute ladybugs and caterpillars and found out that there was not one child in the class that did not like bugs! 

What bugs me...

Our latest glyph was made on pajama day and related to Mo Willem’s story Knuffle Bunny.  The children were given very little direction this time – they were able to figure out each clue to make their own bunny.  The only intervention Lisa and I had to do was in the glue department! (Those floppy ears can be tricky).

All of this may make you wonder what “educational value” there is in glyph making?  The first is that  children start appreciating that symbols can represent other things (a precursor to algebra which comes much later).  Glyph making also requires organization – students need to follow the steps in a certain order or their glyph will not represent what they want it to.  They need to problem solve when looking at glyphs so they can interpret them correctly. Finally, students learn how to communicate what they see.  All this while practicing the fine motor skills of drawing, writing, cutting and pasting!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Younger Class Quilt of Faces - Teacher Marah

One of the projects we do in room 15 in the younger class is have the children make their face. We are looking to see if they are "representative" when it comes to their features. It is a fun way to "look" at and make ourselves.

We have them look in the mirror at themselves. They choose a background and then the color of their face. We give them several options, but let them choose whatever color they decide their skin is.

We ask them about their hair and have colors of yarn for them to choose what they want their hair to look like. Sometimes they choose a color close to theirs, sometimes they decide they have a completely different color of hair. Some add lots of hair and some are minimalist. We honor what the child wants.

We continue the process asking what else is a part of their face. We have buttons for eyes, cut out pieces for nose and yarn and rick rack for mouths. Some friends add all of their features, but not all do.

We end up with very creative and unique faces, just like each child in the classroom.

On our wall outside of our classroom, we have had a quilt of faces, showing the special features of each child.