Saturday, May 17, 2014

Inquiring About Music: Our Sound Exploration Area

Before I show you our finished project, here is a quick rundown on the process leading up to it!  You can see the process in more detail at:

Our driving question was "How can we create an area for students at the ECC to explore sound?"  We started out exploring materials and instruments and came up with 5 ways to make sound: blowing, striking, rubbing, shaking, and strumming/plucking.  They organized their data and formed expert groups for each way to produce sound. Each group investigated their way of making sound, created instruments to show how they created sound in that way and presented to the rest of our class. They created a map of our playground and figured out the best place to put a sound area.  They created a list of materials we could use for our sound area.  We realized we needed money to buy the materials so we created class poetry books and sold them to our parents. We made $60.00!  I went out and gathered materials. The rest is our latest adventure with this project. 

They tested out materials we could use.  

My husband took their plans and created a music wall based on their ideas. 

I brought it to our class and we tested it out for a week, documenting what we noticed about it!  They took this exploring very seriously! Here are some of the comments we heard as they explored!

"When you hold it, it makes a quieter sound than when you don't hold it."
"It can't vibrate when you hold it!"
"When you hold it up here it makes a different sound than when you hold it down here."
"You can feel the vibrations!"

"If you rub this with a stick it is loud, but if you rub it with your hand, it is quiet."
"The small pot has a high pitch.  The next one has a low pitch.  The biggest pot has the lowest pitch."

They were verbalizing everything from our science standards about sound!  It showed how much they had learned from our investigation. They loved knowing why it all worked the way it did!  

They created a sign. 

Finally, after a week of testing it out, Mr. Myers and I came in on Saturday and installed it on our playground in the area they decided on. 

I cannot wait for them to see it on Monday!  Our next step is to create a video explaining this area to show to the other classes in our school. 

This has been a very long inquiry and project!  I am so proud of these kids and the 21st Century Skills (problem solving, collaboration, persistence, etc.), math skills, reading skills, writing skills and research skills they used in order for us to get to this point of creating this finished product.  Because of them, the ECC now has an area for students to explore sound!  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day

11 years ago, I received a gift from my son that he had made in Kindergarten with his wonderful teacher, Mrs, Hamm. It was so beautiful, I cried when I opened it and read the poem and realized that I had to have my Kinders create the same thing so that their mothers could feel as I did on the day I received my most special gift.

We started out by posing for our mothers holding flowers that they will be able to enjoy forever.  The boys loved putting on one of Mr. Myers old suits!  I loved the community shown by the kids as they dressed and posed. They were helpful, encouraging, and full of compliments for each other.  They were very serious about posing because they wanted these perfect for their mothers!

Each picture captures their personality perfectly!

Then we created beautiful silvery frames.

The kids glued this poem on the back.  I have no idea who created this poem, but it goes perfectly with their pictures. 

They created gift bags...

and cards.

I hope all of you mothers enjoyed receiving this gift as much as I did! I still have mine, eleven years later. The pasta is disintegrating but it will stay displayed in my kitchen forever. I once asked my son if he would like to remake the frame since the original was falling apart.  He was horrified!  "But mom! I made that frame in Kindergarten!" Lesson learned.  I will keep it, even after all the pasta falls off!

They asked me if they could take "Family Photos" of each group as I took them outside. These "Family Photos" are some of my favorite pictures ever! They truly capture their personalities, their love for each other and the community they have built during this year together!

Inquiring About Butterflies

All of the classes in our school received caterpillars to observe this month!  The kids were so excited to see the provocation set up when they walked in!

The kids documented, observed and wondered as the caterpillars grew, shed skin, and created their chrysalis. Finally, this week, they emerged as beautiful butterflies! This was a favorite area to visit as they observed and documented the butterflies!  Using resources set out for them, they researched and identified them as Painted Ladies. 

After witnessing the life cycle of the butterfly, they documented it using materials set out for them. 

We decided on Friday to let them go.  It was supposed to rain and they had a discussion about how they would protect themselves. They initially did not want to let them go, but when we talked about what they needed and where they would be happiest, they agreed it was for the best. We went outside and enjoyed them, said our goodbyes, and created more happy memories!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Our Poetry Tea: How Academics Are Covered Through a Project.

This month, the kids have been diving into poetry! They learned quickly that poetry can be written about ANYTHING!  They learned how to make a poem look like a poem and were exposed to many different styles of poetry.  They practiced their writing skills by creating their own personal treasuries of poems that they would bind at the end of our study.  We had come up with the idea of creating a treasury of one poem from each student to sell to parents in order to raise money for the sound exploration area we had designed. I truly believe this motivated them to do their best work. 

When I told them about having a Poetry Tea for their parents where they could each recite the poem they had picked for the class treasury, they became very excited!  The planning began at once!  After brainstorming about what to serve our parents, they analyzed data by creating a graph and tally chart to find out what kind of snacks and teas the most friends wanted to make. Based on the data, they had decided on mint, orange-cinnoman, and raspberry tea to drink. For snacks, they decided on chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate chip cookies. 

First we used writing skills by creating invitations to our tea. 

Some friends used their creativity, critical thinking skills and problem solving skills by creating flower arrangements for their tables.

They used measuring skills and following direction skills by following a recipe to bake cookies. 

They dipped strawberries in chocolate. That was just plain fun!

They practiced counting one to one with Mrs. Holton by counting how many chocolate covered strawberries we made (there were 80)!

More writing skills were used as they created labels for the snacks and tea along with recipes to show how we made the tea. 

They used reading skills to follow the recipes for the tea which they took very seriously!  Friends took turns grinding mint leaves with a morter and pestle. 

After we were finished writing poetry, they each gave me one for the class treasury, then put their own together. Choosing paper for a cover was serious business!

Those whose parents purchased a class treasury strengthened fine motor skills by binding them using scrap material.  They had to pull the material through the holes and tie them. 

We put our treasuries on the tables.

After going to Mrs. Garrabrant's class to listen to them recite poems, we invited them to come to our room so that we could recite our poems to them. It was great practice and community building! We used our reading skills to read our personal treasuries to them also. 

We set everything out to get ready for our parents. 

Finally, the moment they were waiting for arrived!  They had been so impatient for this moment all day long!  Every child recited their poem for our parents. I was so proud of every single one of them. The parents loved how every poem gave such unique insight into each child's personality. Kindergartners truly do create the best poetry ever!

After the Poetry Reading, the children went to their seats with their parents to enjoy the treasuries, snacks and tea together.  It was beautiful.  Everyone loved this special day. It is a favorite for parents and the students and I have so much fun putting it together for them!

As you can see, many academic skills were covered in this project! Writing (poems, labels, invitation, recipes), reading (poetry books, friends poems, rereading their own poems, recipes) and math (counting, measuring, graphing, tallies, data collection), along with 21st Century Skills (problem solving, team work, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking).  So many skills in our standards can be covered in such a meaningful way to the kids where they actually are using and applying the skills in real life situations. They see why these skills are needed and work hard to be able to use them during these experiences. 

We raised $60 to put toward our sound exploration area by selling our class poetry treasuries!  Thank you parents for helping support something they are very excited about! Next I will use that money to purchase the materials.  This week, we will explore the materials and fine tune our design. Hopefully it will be built within the next week or two!  I can't wait to share the end product!  Stay tuned!