Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"It's All Good!"

One of our favorite series of books is the beloved "Pete the Cat" books by Eric Litwin and James Dean. We enjoy the fun illustrations, the predictable text that helps us join in and read along, the funny things Pete say and does, the songs he sings, and his laid back attitude, taking everything in stride. (You can watch a live version of the author reading and singing "Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes" at the following link: )

Throughout our exploration of Pete the Cat books, we were inspired to:

  • Practice math skills using groovy buttons
  • Read and write color words
  • Write about the shoes WE loved, kind of like Pete with his white shoes. 
  • Take a sensory walk with our bare feet, feeling and describing how each step on the path felt.
  • Learn to draw Pete the Cat by following step-by-step instructions
  • Put on puppet shows with Pete the Cat and other characters, too.

We also learned that we were going to see "Pete The Cat: The Musical" onstage. Live!
We discussed what happens in a play and how it is different from seeing movie characters or characters in books. There are a lot of elements to putting on a play, both onstage and backstage and way before the show! There are costumes, sets, words to learn... so many roles for many people. 
The day of the play was very exciting. We met in the lobby with our special grown-ups before walking in to the beautiful theater together. 

Upon returning to school, we reflected on the play and shared our favorite things. "I liked when the cat catcher tried to catch Pete!" "I liked when the girl wanted to get married and she put a tutu on him!"
Once we expressed our ideas, we drew and wrote about it in our journals. 
We were so inspired that we decided to put on our own play. Through much dialogue, we decided the setting of our play would be at the beach, so we got to work creating an ocean and beach backdrop.

We also discussed possible characters. We needed costumes! We drew a design of our character, if we chose to be one, then gathered materials to make our creations.

A play usually needs words, so we split our class into two groups and worked collaboratively within our groups to write a script. Both groups were set at the beach, since that was what we decided as a large group. Each group came up with a bit of a different story, with characters they created previously, and, of course, Pete the Cat. Some friends narrated and some friends worked behind the scenes. We all took part in the process, which really is what it's all about! 

 Once it was all put together, we practiced, then presented our plays to our friends in the preschool. The Kindergartners did an amazing job, and the preschool was a fabulous audience. 
After performing, we reflected on how we felt about the process. Some of us felt nervous once we saw the other kids watching. Some said they were nervous, but then the nervousness went away! (These kids are so great about expressing how they feel!) 

We love what can happen when you start with a simple idea ... "we're going to see the play Pete The Cat"... add a few books, a few more ideas, then follow the children's lead after that. As we often say, Kindergartners really can do amazing things! 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Happy New Year (Part 2)

December was a short month, but we managed to squeeze in a lot of fun, festivities, and learning. We began by exploring The Gingerbread Man. The predictable text and repetitive lines made this a fun and rewarding story to explore. Our investigation of the book, and variations of the story, really brought about some in-depth learning, especially in the area of literacy. 

We compared and contrasted what was the same/different in each book. We voted on our favorite version of the story, read a Gingerbread Man poem, and even built traps to try to catch the Gingerbread Man!
First, we drew our plan for our trap and thought about the materials we would need to build it before getting started. 
One of our goals in Kindergarten is to install the practice of making a plan for our work, even our play. Mapping out an idea is a very important part of learning how to prioritize, be intentional in our actions, and organize our thoughts and movements. It also helps us gain a sense of ownership in our learning. 
Once our plan was drawn, we went to work building. It's always great to see ideas put into action. Sometimes, we have to alter our original plans based on materials available, or to improve functionality. Revising a plan is another important way to increase our flexibility in our thinking, and to build onto an idea. 

It was fun to share our trap with the class and explain the thinking behind the design, and how it works. Some of us built our traps alone and some of us helped our friends build, paint and test the traps.

Our Gingerbread focus ended with a cook day baking... you guessed it... Gingerbread Man cookies! We rolled and cut the dough, then decorated and ate them once they were baked. We don't think any of them ran away. Taking a bite might have made us sympathize a bit with the Fox in the story. They were delicious! 
There is so much learning happening when we can "dive in" to a particular focus. Learning math is fun when you are playing a "build a Gingerbread Man" game or measuring a giant Gingerbread Man using various measuring tools. We feel confident as budding readers when we recall familiar text when reading "You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man". We explored our five senses by making a book, creating a page for each sense. We were also engineers, designing and building Lego bridges for the Gingerbread Man to get across the river!

December also found us getting ready for Christmas, writing Christmas cards and making gifts for our family, building countdown chains, exploring melting Christmas trees in science, and learning about the first Christmas when Baby Jesus was born so long ago. 

This month, our focus has been on Pete The Cat! We look forward to sharing the fun we are having and the learning that is going along with it very soon. As Pete likes to say, "It's all GOOD!" 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Happy New Year! (Part 1)

Wow! It feels as though we should be saying "Happy Thanksgiving" or "Merry Christmas", but here we are in a new year already. Here's what we have been up to in Kindergarten in the past couple of months. 
In November, we were busy planning and preparing for our Thanksgiving Feast. From start to finish, we decided what it meant to have a "celebration", what we would want to include in that celebration, and got busy making it happen.

We made decorations, wrote a menu, made the food and invited our families to our special event.

The day of our event was exciting. We decorated the Davis room and patiently awaited the arrival of our families. 
After seating our families, we performed for them, then each had a job serving them before we served ourselves. Again, a lot of patience was required! 

We were happy to join our families for the feast,  give them our "thankful" gifts...

  ...and eat some of the delicious meal we made. 
It was an event worth dancing about!

All the while, throughout the month, we practiced skills like collaboration, organization, and decision making; practiced writing and learned new vocabulary; shared our creativity through our ideas and artwork; practiced math through measuring ingredients, and so much more!

Stay tuned as we give you a glimpse into the month of December and what's happening now. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Color Investigation

Last month, we finished our first investigation: an exploration of color. 
We began by talking about what we knew about colors and what we wondered. 
We set out watercolors to explore mixing and observing how they changed. Did we form new colors when we mixed two? What if we mixed more than two? 
It was fun creating new colors. We decided to freeze some of them in the ice trays we used to mix and save them to paint with colored ice! 

We explored color science! We predicted what we thought might happen when we dropped food coloring into milk. Unlike the water, we discovered the colors danced and moved!

 We learned about primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – and spent time exploring them further. What happens if we mix two primary colors? What happens if we mix more than two colors? We had ample opportunity to test our theories and find answers through various art explorations.

We used primary paints and mixed colors to create a color wheel. After we painted each section, we glued loose parts onto their appropriate section. 
We also explored a box of 64 crayons and determined which colors belonged where on the color wheel. It’s not always an easy determination when looking at a pinkish-purple or periwinkle crayon! 

 We spent time talking about the various shades of colors. We examined paint chips and worked to mix paint colors to show lighter and darker shades. 

We know that blue and yellow mixed together make green. We know that red and blue mixed together make purple. We learned that adding white or black can change the shade of a color. We took our learning and went on to create our very own colors. We mixed, tested, and mixed some more until our color was finished. After creating our very own color, we gave it a name. 
 All the while, we noticed the colors were changing all around us outside. We brought some of those colors in to explore and paint. 

 Throughout this exploration, we learned new vocabulary, answered questions we wondered about, tested our predictions, made beautiful art, and discovered just how much our world is full of color!