Sunday, January 17, 2021

An Inquiry on Magical Creatures: Interest Based Learning

One way that I get my students to be excited about learning and using their emerging academic skills is by teaching through their interests. Sometimes it might be a small area set up for a small group who is interested in a topic and sometimes it is a whole inquiry involving all of us and our classroom environment. This group has been showing their love of unicorns, dragons and mermaids since the beginning of the year! Now that we are back to face to face learning, I was able to take this interest and use it!

Earlier in the year when we were face to face for a few weeks, I had these Story-Telling Bins for them to explore and create stories. They were a favorite!

After a few weeks of going back to online learning, we were able to come back. I took everything from those story bins and set up and area where they could use the magical creatures together in the stories. Oral story telling is an important skill that will help them in writing. It also builds vocabulary and allows them to build their creative thinking skills and use their imagination! Later, I will add story booklets to encourage them to write the stories they play!

I set up an area to inspire them to write stories about their favorite magical creatures. We have been working on writing sentences and how a story is organized with a beginning, middle and end. Here, they can practice those skills writing about something they were interested in! 

The library was filled with books about magical creatures and some fairytales to encourage reading for pleasure and to inspire their own stories!

I put the scarves in our Dramatic Play Area with some clothes pins so they could create costumes and become magical creatures. 

They could hone their creative thinking skills in the art area! 

They experimented with colored vinegar and baking soda to create dragon breath!

You can’t investigate unicorns without exploring rainbows! We used prisms, CD’s and a flashlight!

They also practiced making all the colors of the rainbow and their different shades using only primary colors.

We used magical creatures to practice creating number stories and solving addition problems.

We also explored real dragons that live in our world and did some informational writing as they wrote a fact about their favorite one!

Here are some other math and literacy experiences they had this week! Bang is a favorite game to practice reading sight words. They pick a card and read it. Then they choose if they want to draw again. If they get a BANG card, they have to put all their cards back! Whoever has the most cards at the end wins!

They practiced reading cvc words by trying to match their word cups to the picture cups. These came from @real_learners_play’s TPT store.

They sorted by beginning sound.

And practiced sight words with play dough and tracing the letters in Himalayan sea salt! It’s a great sensory experience! 

We have also been practicing adding and subtracting using our new Math Racks.

We will continue our Magical Creature Inquiry into next week! Stay tuned to see what else we come up with as we follow this interest! Meanwhile, I leave you with this thought:

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Kindness Ninjas: Spreading Encouragement All Around

The Kindness Ninja came back this year to recruit a new group to change the world one random act of kindness at a time!

We read many books about how even just one random act of kindness can change the world and spread kindness all around and wondered what we could do for our first Random Act of Kindness as Kindness Ninjas! We discussed how people right now are in need of kind words that will encourage them and give them joy and decided to make posters as tools to spread encouragement to others. We brainstormed phrases that people would like to hear to cheer them up and brighten their day, then got to work making them into posters!

Here are our Kindness Ninjas with their words of encouragement!

We walked around our building first to encourage whoever we ran into! We also stopped at Nurse B’s office and the main office to offer everyone who worked there some encouragement.  

Then, we decided that all the administrators in our districts Central Office needed encouraging words because running a school district during COVID is hard! We knew we couldn’t go in due to COVID regulations so we stood outside their windows and yelled our encouraging words to them as we held up our signs. 

We made sure to go to every office window!

Our kindness Ninjas loved seeing everyone smile and wave through the windows...evidence that their Random Act of Kindness was working!

Channel 2 News was told about us and we were asked if we would give a repeat performance for all the administrators who missed it last time!

The Kindness Ninjas were excited to do it again and be on the news!

They got to see more smiling eyes over masks through the windows!

They loved seeing themselves on the news!

We were told that some were so touched by their kindness that they were brought to tears! We got emails thanking us and telling us that the kindness and encouragement we gave them was exactly what they needed! Some said that we reminded them that they also needed to make sure to do the same and encourage others too! I told them that they had not only spread joy and encouragement, but inspired others to do the same!

The kids loved hearing about all the joy that they spread, just with some kind, encouraging words and cannot wait to do another Random Act of Kindness to spread more joy very soon!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Exploring the Holiday Season

Here are some experiences I had set up for our class for the Holidays when we came back for face-to-face learning! 

They could explore math concepts such as patterning and symmetry, along with using both their critical and creative thinking skills as they created mandalas using loose parts.

They worked their finger muscles and enjoyed the sensory experiences of smelling spices as they used the mortar and pestle to grind the spices! They came up with recipes for spice mixes and added the number of different spices used. They also looked closer and recorded what they noticed.

They created a Christmas tree out of boxes and used materials they could find around the room to decorate it.

They practiced ordering by size by creating a Christmas trees.

We practiced cutting skills by creating beautiful poinsettias! 

They created beautiful observational paintings of poinsettias!

We made yummy Christmas trees to snack on during our last day before Winter Break!

Here are a few of the invitations to explore teen numbers.

They were invited to create letter books, practice sight words, and sorting by beginning sound in our literacy area.

It was so wonderful to be back face to face and actually explore along side of each other (masked and at a safe distance) again! I can’t wait to see what experiences await us in the new year!