Friday, June 7, 2013

Our Last Day

We had such a great last day of school!  Last week, after reading a book about sunflowers and realizing that they are fully bloomed in the fall, the kids came up with the idea of planting sunflowers as a gift for next years kindergartners.  After talking about it some more, they realized that in doing that, they would actually be leaving something for them to investigate! I had all of this in my mind, but they ended up coming up with this idea all on their own! 

First they made a sign to grab the new kindergartner's attention next year.

We had a soil team and a planting team. The soil team took our worm habitat and dumped it out into our garden. It was great listening to them talk about how the worms would do their job and help the sunflowers grow! Then they used rakes and shovels to even out the soil.  The seed team came up with a plan through discussion and decided to plant the tall Mammoth Sunflowers in the middle and the shorter colorful ones around the edges. 

Hopefully they will grow and be ready next fall for a new set of investigators. What a great and thoughtful gift they are leaving!

To end our day, we watched a video of our year. It was amazing to see how much the kids have grown this year!  It was also fun revisiting all of the different things that we have inquired about.  Right before the video ended, it hit them. They realized we were all going to have to say good bye and the tears started flowing! They hugged me, Mrs. Hoang, each other and sobbed the whole time.  This group truly loved each other. Even with our large numbers, they were all close friends and loved each other very much! This picture says it all:

I can't believe this is the end. I have loved these children with all of my heart and now I have to say goodbye.  This time of year is so bitter sweet.  They will stay in my heart forever.  I must thank each one of them for making my first year of trying a more project/inquiry based way of teaching so much fun! They truly loved learning and made this year such a positive experience! I know that they will be successful in all they do because they are persistent and believe they can do hard things! They never give up! They have grown more than I ever could have imagined! I am so proud of them!  Parents, please feel free to keep in touch! Let the kids email me and please visit!  I thank you for the privilege of learning and exploring alongside your amazing children.  Have a wonderful summer!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Field Day, a Tortoise, Eating Dirt and Goodbyes...

Here are some things that we did this last week of school! We had our Field Day on one of the most beautiful days of the year! Here is a glimpse at a few of the activities!

We also had a very special visitor! My family's pet tortoise came to spend the day with us! 

They predicted which food he would like best, then we put him to the test!

They made all kinds of cards for him and taped them to his box.

They also wrote books about him and documented what he looked like!

We also celebrated the end of our worm project and our summer birthdays by making and eating some "dirt" and "worms." 

It has been such a fun last week enjoying each other and all of the friendships created this year.  Now we just have one more day to go...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Worms- The Project

After we investigated worms, the kids decided on a mural as the project to show what they had learned.  One thing they all helped with was painting the soil, then they worked in teams to make different parts of the mural.

One team cut some green paper for grass.  They studied what worm tunnels looked like and painted them onto the soil.

After each team worked on the part of the mural they signed up for, they wrote information that they wanted to share about their part of the project.
Another team used books to review what worms look like so they wouldn't miss any details! Then they made some worms and added them to the tunnels.

The top one says, "At night worms bring dead leaves into the soil."
 Another team worked on the cocoons which they learned held the eggs until they hatched.

One team wanted to paint flowers and make roots to show how worms help them.

Many kids were very interested in how the worms created castings that helped hide their tunnels from predators and also helped plants grow by providing food.

One big interest that surprised me was the predator/prey relationships! If we had another month of school, I think they would have loved to do an inquiry on the food chain.  After reading a book called "Feathers For Lunch," they made the connection through their own discussion that the worm eats the dirt, the bird eats the worm, the cat eats the bird! They thought that was so cool!

They used the same book to investigate which local birds were worm eaters to add to the mural.  They were also really starting to get into the different types of birds and what sounds they made!  Another possible inquiry had we more time!  They also found out other predators liked to eat worms such as moles, hedge hogs and snakes, so they had to add these to the mural also!  They also glued feathers to wooden clothespins after studying what robins, blue jays and house wrens looked liked.  They did such a great job making them accurate but I didn't get photos of them!

They also added some documentation from worm observations.

Here is the finished mural!

I now know, because of these little  researchers, more than I ever thought I would know about worms! They truly loved this inquiry and took ownership of it!  The more I have learned this year to let go and let the kids pick what to study based on their interests and experiences, the more I see with my own eyes the value in it! I am having more fun teaching than ever before! Of course, this big group of scientists and engineers that I have this year have made it extra enjoyable!