Saturday, November 9, 2019

All Things Fall In Room 201

Young children are naturally interested in, and curious about the things around them! It is one of the reasons we usually study the seasons as they happen. We usually study leaves and then harvest, but this year, the leaves didn’t start changing until the end of October...about two weeks later than usual so this year they overlapped into all things Fall! 

The kids had been bringing in all kinds of little treasures they had been finding in nature. I never asked them to...they naturally wanted to bring nature inside and investigate it more! 

We collected all their treasures to look closer and to practice sorting objects by attribute like scientists do! 

They used black ink pens and Sharpies to document what they noticed as they looked closer.

We read “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert and then made our own! I laminated these leaves six years ago and they are still going strong!

Here was an area where they could use loose parts to create oral stories and use them to inspire stories to write later! 

We went on a field trip to the farm where we fed animals, went on a hayride, played and each got our own pumpkins!

We brought our pumpkins back and measured, weighed, and put them in buckets of water to see it they could float. We documented our observations and then painted them.

I had a few pumpkins so I put them out for them to explore...

...but then, a local farmer donated a few pumpkins since Halloween was over. 😂 This picture doesn’t even show all of them!

We had so many, our Kindness Ninjas decided to deliver a baby pumpkin to each student in the upstairs kindergarten hallway to brighten their day!

I now could use all kinds of pumpkins in our learning areas! I created these invitations to explore:

An area to look closer and document as scientists.

An area to measure height, circumference, and weight as mathematicians.

Here they can explore the concepts of heavier and lighter with a balance scale. 

They were fascinated by all of the gourds! 

After reading “The Ugly Pumpkin” the kids took gourds to their tables and wrote stories with their gourd as a main character. 

We have had a lot of learning experiences so far with all things Fall! Next week we will open a bunch of the pumpkins and gourds up and see what we discover!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

An Insect Inquiry: Following Student Interests

I have learned that if the class is truly interested in something, they will use reading, writing, and math skills as they explore their interests naturally. I observe and listen closely to discover what they are interested in. Sometimes a book or story will spark an interest. Sometimes an interest is sparked by something a friend shared with the class. Sometimes I notice interests by listening to their stories and their play.  Our last large group interest was sparked when one of our friends found an almost dead praying mantis. The kids were fascinated with it and wanted to look closer, observe, and find out more.

Every time we went outside they wanted to look for insects! 

I set out some invitations for them to explore insects further.  They quickly started looking through books and models of insects to see what they could find out. I started encouraging them to record what they noticed using different materials. 

One of their favorites was the book Microsculpture:Portraits of Insects by Levon Biss. It truly took a closer look at insects including closeups of legs, wings, eyes feet, etc. it was such a beautiful book. I set it out with materials for them to create their own beautiful portraits of insects showing what they noticed. 

They are starting to figure out how to try to spell unfamiliar words by writing the sounds they hear in words. They practiced labeling their insects here also.

But the insects they got the most excited about were the ones completely covering our milkweed plants! They wanted to know all about them! 

We looked at a picture of one and made our thinking visible by recording what we saw, thought and wondered. Then we got our Entomologist tools, took them outside and found out everything we could about them!

They were amazing and thorough Entomologists! 

We recorded everything we noticed and then put some of our information in the computer and found out they are called Milkweed bugs! We then did an observational drawing as Entomologists and used our writing skills to label what it is and some body parts. Here is the display outside our room showing everything we learned about them!  

The other insects all took a backseat to the milkweed bug! I could have done a traditional insect unit, but these kids noticed something in their environment where they could truly experience it, so I followed the direction they took our insect study. I often let the kids direct our curriculum! They show me what they want to learn and I follow their lead and learn along side them. They were much more involved, interested and excited about learning as we followed their interest. Also, this fell naturally into our science standards of living things and what they need! I can’t wait to see what other interests this group will have that we can dig deeper into! They are definitely bringing in leaves by the bucketful...

Here are some other things going on in our classroom:

We are still working on those fine motor skills! Our finger muscles need a lot of work!

Stories are being created in all of the areas of our room as we learn about story making!

Here they are encouraged to show math in an open ended way. At the moment they are working on the numbers 1-10, shapes, writing numbers to 10, counting objects and matching to the correct number, counting to 25, subitizing and patterns. They are also learning to notice math all around us and how we use it in our every day lives.

Some Fall art inspiration with sunflowers.

They drew pictures of Mrs. Coberly wearing Michigan State colors and wrote “Mrs. Coberly loves Sparty!” Then we decorated her door! They loved this! Unfortunately, the Buckeye/Spartan game did not end well for me!

It has been a busy place filled with all kinds of learning!