Saturday, June 10, 2017

What's going on?

It's certainly been a busy spring! And here we are, going into our last week of school. Sometimes time flies, and other times, time FLIES! Speaking of flying ... 

We spent much of April reading about, researching and writing about birds. What amazing skills we covered through this process. We discussed as a group what we knew about birds, then what we wanted to know about birds. 

We each chose a bird that we wanted to learn more and write about. We looked through books and found the facts we needed to write about where our bird lived, what it looked like, what it ate, and other interesting facts. We illustrated our pages and created a book, which we shared with our classmates and families.
We spent time investigating bird nests and bird parts, drawing and labeling the parts of a bird, gathering materials and making a nest, observational drawing and bird painting.

We made bird feeders and hung them outside our window. We really enjoy watching the various types of birds come around to our feeding area!

For three weeks, we eagerly awaited the hatching of our chicken eggs in the incubator. It was wonderful to hold them and feel their soft feathers. 

We really enjoyed our bird investigation! It even triggered a week or so of more interest in flight and the making of MANY paper airplanes, which carried over to our outdoor learning where we tested their flight capabilities!

Since we end our day in the outdoors, we rarely share what's happening out there and how much learning (and expending of energy) is occurring outside. 

So much teamwork, sharing, imagining and discovery is going on all of the time.
 We are busy building and/or trying to break through dams in Colin's creek, creating elaborate games of freeze tag, meals of mud cakes and grass and leaf soup. 

 We are soothing friends who have fallen down, we are planting a garden and caring for it each day. 

We challenge our abilities constantly through climbing, running, lifting and moving. 

We are treasure finders and sometimes, treasure sharers. We practice carpentry by sawing and hammering wood. 

We collect flowers, write with "chalk made from wood", and discover, and discover, and discover. 

Playing outdoors presents such amazing opportunity to learn more about our friends, share our ideas, work together, and explore our natural world. 

 Our days are so rich with learning, from start to finish. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Learning about Geometry

During the month of March our math focus was on learning about Geometry.  We had the opportunity to learn a lot of new vocabulary, not only the names of shapes; rhombus, trapezoid, sphere and cylinder to name a few, but also words that help us describe shapes like vertices, edges and faces. 

We started our shape investigation with a simple question about circles and squares.  Can you fill a large circle with small square tiles?  

Most of us were pretty sure there must be some strategy to make this work.  After manipulating the squares and trying various ways, such as building up and overlapping squares, some came very close.  In the end we all came to the same conclusion: you can’t make an actual circle with squares because a square has straight lines and a circle is a curved line.  This began our discussion on the attributes of two dimensional shapes.

 The next day our question was about how many ways there are to make a hexagon using the pattern blocks.  Again, with some manipulation of shapes, flexibility in thinking and a little bit of collaboration we were each able to come up with at least six different ways to make a hexagon.  

This naturally led us to try to see what else we could create with the pattern blocks.

 We spent time looking around our environment trying to find shapes. It was amazing to see how many two dimensional and three dimensional shapes we could find in our classroom, outside and around the church.  

 We created shapes using toothpicks and clay, read books about shapes and categorized shapes using their properties. 

 It was exciting to watch each student expand and build on their current knowledge of shapes!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Building Leprechaun Traps

The month of March found us deeply involved in a building inquiry. So, as St. Patrick's Day approached,  it seemed appropriate to ask the question "can we build something to catch a leprechaun?" Let's back up a little... some of us had never heard of a leprechaun, so we had to list what we knew about leprechauns before anything else occurred! 
We read the book Clever Tom and the Leprechaun, a story about a man who catches a leprechaun, only to be tricked by him when it comes to finding his treasure. Before we could even pose our question, the students were discussing the ways THEY might catch a leprechaun!
So, we broke into groups and set out to build a trap for a leprechaun. Before we could build a trap, we had to discuss and write a plan. We drew and wrote our ideas down, editing as we changed our minds. 
When you are a kindergartner, it is not always natural to collaborate, listen to your partners, and compromise ideas. It takes a lot of practice, but these kindergartners did just that... after a bit of trial and error, of course. 
There was a table of supplies to "shop" from. All ideas had to be talked about and agreed upon within the group before anyone ran to grab a material. We had to answer why we wanted to use a certain item. What would our trap look like? What would attract a leprechaun? 
"We need gold!" "They like rainbows!" The ideas were flying. It's amazing to watch the process of collaboration and how one idea may spark another. The level of excitement was high as each individual did their part to make the whole plan come together. 

Of course, there were times of struggle. Times of giving up on a great idea to make room for someone else's great idea. It was messy. It was loud. But, it was also enjoyable to hear their excitement as their plans came together and they explained to us how their trap would work. Some practiced their expertise in making the trap beautiful. Others were more focused on the action of the trap. By day two, all three traps were completed. Not one was like another. 
 This one drew the leprechaun in with it's shiny gold. There were cozy beds to draw him in, and lots of foot traps dug into the styrofoam to catch his little feet!
"We buried the trap!" - B.W.
 "It needs to be beautiful so the leprechaun would want to go in the trap." - B.E.
"If his foot goes here, his shoe won't even come out!" - P.G.
"If the gold (beads) breaks, he will flyyyyyyyy into the trap!" - K.T.
 This one also had  gold added to entice a leprechaun. 
"We made a house with a chimney and three beds that are traps." - C.S.
"We put three beds in. I made a little basket with a little pillow inside of it with a blanket." - S.B.
"You walk in and you get stuck in one of the beds." - D.J.
This included a bridge to run across, where he would be caught in a hole as he headed towards the shiny treasure. 
"So, he'll run into the hole. He's trying to get gold. I made the bridge." - I.A.
"There's a hole, but when it doesn't fall in the hole, we will just trap him!" - S.D.
"I'll tell you about it after we finish making it!" - G.G. 

During reflection, we had a lot of ideas to share about what we liked and what was difficult about this project. As teachers, we love how this group so openly shares their ideas and is willing to discuss their feelings on a topic without hesitation. Isn't that the essence of collaboration? To cooperate and work together towards a common goal, each contributing in our own way?  Besides collaboration, we used skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, and persistence. And while we may not have captured a leprechaun, we continue to gain incredible life skills that will not only help us in future projects at school, but as workers and members of society for the rest of our lives.