Monday, June 6, 2016

Tortoises, Feathers, Sound and Farewells: Our Last Days

The last two weeks were filled with fun mini inquiries and projects during their play. 

I told the class that I would bring my tortoise Steven to class for a visit, but first they would need to create a safe and fun area to keep him in! This would be our last project. The kids worked in teams to draw and label plans and we took the elements from their plans to create this fun habitat for Steven!

We had a maze team, nature maze team and Lego maze team. We also had a wall team to create the enclosure, a ramp team, a quiet place team, and a beautification committee.

The wall team made sure that the area was totally enclosed so that Steven could not get out. All the maze teams worked hard to create mazes that Steven could travel through. They were careful to make them wide enough for him to fit through them. 




The beautification committee did a great job of making his habitat beautiful! They choose to use colorful glass beads. 


Can you see all the math happening here!? Measuring, patterning, grouping, symmetry. It is amazing how much math there is in art!


This stuffed turtle was close to Steven's size so they used him as a model to make sure the maze walls and cave were all tall and wide enough.


I put out materials for the kids to document what they noticed about tortoises. Paints at the easels, oil and chalk pastels...



and clay for my sculptures. 


Their attention to detail amazed me!


When we researched Russian Tortoises we found out they are vegetarians. They were curious what his favorite food would be. 


It ended up being the apple, which most of them predicted!



We did observational drawings of Steven as he crawled around visiting them.



Writing was also used to predict and record what his favorite food was.


Of coarse he spent a lot of time in the special area they created for him!




The measurements for his "quiet area" we're perfect!


Steven had a lovely time interacting with all of the kids! They are more social than you would imagine! He is a really great pet!


Another interest evolved in the last week with creating sound again! They started using recyclables to create instruments.


We had a ton of performances. Each band had to write down who was in it, what instruments they needed, and the name of their band! They were all very good! They loved watching the group STOMP for inspiration!


One STOMP video created a new interest in our sound exploration area created for our outdoor area by one of my previous classes. 


I had set out this provocation. I thought they would enjoy drawing these peacock feathers but they grabbed our microscope and took it in another direction so I added some other feathers. They became very good at focusing the microscope. This had been difficult for them before!


The loved using my iPhone to take pictures through the microscope and became quite good at it! We would display their pictures on the promethium board and the class would guess which feather it was.


I added some giant feathers to use as quills and liquid watercolor to our writing area and was amazed at the writing that happened here!


This friend is creating a program listing all the songs his band is going to play.


We also created these math beads as a gift for next years Kindergartners, along with a book of what they can expect in Kindergarten!


We had a Field Day that the kids LOVED! It was so much fun!


These kids hold such a special place in my heart! I really had a hard time on the last day knowing they would all be leaving to start their new journey at their new elementary schools. I know they are well prepared with 21st Century Skills that they have learned and that they will be able to apply them in all of their subjects, but I always wish their early childhood journey could last a bit longer!



Here is our final journey out to the busses on our last day! We had a hug/cry fest in our room just before so we could leave with smiles and happy memories!  Good luck my little friends on your new grade school adventure. Don't ever stop playing, wondering, creating and looking closer! Don't let go of your childhood so easily! I will miss you all always!


Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Poetry Project: A Poetry Cafe Planned By Kindergartners

Every year I introduce my class to poetry and every year they love it! They also love to write it. It gives them a fresh, new reason to write! I start out by immersing them in poetry. The one that always ends up being their favorite is All the Small Poems and Forteen More by Valerie Worth.


This book teaches them that they can look at anything, even the most simple thing like grass, the sky, a rock, or a pencil, and see it so clearly if they look at it with "poet's eyes." They realized that they could write a poem about anything! 

For the next twelve years, they will most likely be told what type of poems they have to write. I just want them to write poems freely without any restrictions. I expose them to list poems, I Like... poems, metaphors, picture poems, haikus, poems with rhythm and poems with rhymes. We talk about how these poems can inspire their own poetry. I love reading their poems and seeing how each child is inspired by different styles of poetry. I also loved reading about the different subjects they would write about. Some were so sad they brought tears to my eyes about real life situations. Some were about happy memories and some were about random things just like Valerie Worth. 

The kids wrote poems for about two weeks and then made their own personal poetry treasuries to take home. They read their poetry books over and over! I asked if they would like to present their poems to our families. That is when the planning for our Poetry Cafe started.  They decided they wanted snacks and drinks and some wanted to make the room "pretty." They voted for sugar cookies for a snack. I volunteered to also bring some popcorn. 

This group has been exploring herbs (which will be another blog post) so we decided to make water with some lemon and our Spearmint plant. 

Cooking with 25 kids by myself was a very interesting experience, (in the past I've always had an assistant) but we got it done! We made the lemon-mint water first. 




The kids love to take pictures of things that they create, but about four kids asked if they could take pictures of the process as we made our cookies and lemon-mint water. Here are some of the moments and things they thought were important through their photos as we made the water. They would even stand on chairs to get a different perspective. They watch me too much! 


We made the cookies next. I usually have the kids make everything homemade but without help and since we were pressed for time, I pushed the easy button and used a mix! I love this sugar cookie mix!! It's my favorite!



Here is the documentation of the process from the kids point of view with their photos.


I pulled out all of my flowers so a group could make arrangements. 



We also made a poetry banner. They wanted to use the colors that were in their favorite painting Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. 



I hung it up in a prominent spot and used its color inspiration as a backdrop for our "Welcome to our poetry cafe" sign. 


We practiced reading our poems in our books and then set them out on the tables along with the flowers. 


We displayed our lemon-mint water with the recipe and a graph showing who liked the lemon-mint water and who didn't.


We also created a snack table. The kids made labels for everything. They even made signs without me knowing about it saying "Eat Here" and put them on all the tables in our room! I also enjoyed the "Get food here" sign someone made and stuck on the snack table. These are examples of purposeful writing. They write for these reasons without thinking writing is a hard thing. They just do it naturally because they feel it is needed. 


Each friend picked their favorite poem to share for the poetry reading part of our cafe. They had a podium and a microphone, and I put their poem up on the promethium board so the families could see it also as they read it. 



After the reading, the kids took their families to their tables to read their Poetry books and Space books to them. Then they took them around the room open house style to show them all of the space projects they have worked on. After that they got to mingle and enjoy some snacks and drinks together. 







I love doing this each year! It is a great way for us to build community and let the kids show all that they have done! You could see how proud they were to put this on for their families! It was very meaningful and purposeful for them all! That's how the best learning takes place!

Stay tuned for the next blog post where I will blog about our space inquiry!