Saturday, June 14, 2014

The End of the School Year 2013-2014...

Another year has come to an end! This last week we just enjoyed the friendships that were cultivated this year. As they played, here are some explorations that started popping up! If only we had more time so that we could inquire about them further!

Transient Art: The patience and thought process behind some of these designs were awesome!

A "Can You Build It?" Challenge: I loved their interpretations of some of these structures!

Exploring Balance: I have been encouraging this exploration all year, but they just became interested in it this past week!

Dancing: This was a very spontaneous interest that popped up that could have been a very fun inquiry! They were ballroom dancing, ballet dancing, and break dancing! The kids started giving each other lessons! They had to give and follow multiple step directions with each other.  And it was also adorable to watch!

Oh the things we could explore if we just had more time! These kids had so much curiosity and looked at everything as something to explore further.  

The room is packed up for another group of kids to add their personal touch.  I wonder what it will look like next year? It always makes me sad when the personality the room had from our group is gone and it is all so bare. 

will miss them so much but it is time to let them go and become first graders at new schools. I know that they will be successful because of all of the 21st Century Skills they have developed this year! They are super!

Parents, I hope you all enjoy the video! We watched it together no less than 10 times in our room.  I wish you could have heard all 30 of them belting out that song! It was their favorite....even more than "Let it Go!"  I will miss you all.  Have a wonderful summer!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Inquiring about Chihuly

As the year draws to a close, the kids have been working on one last mini inquiry.  I was showing them images of Chihuly sculptures. He is an artist who uses glass to create art. His work is beautiful and inspiring!

I was hoping to inspire them to create this:

But as things usually go, they didn't even notice this style of Chihuly art... BUT, they all did a collective gasp when they saw this image:

"Can we make that?"  Well, yes, I think so!  

I layed out large and small plastic cups, and large and small plastic plates, along with permanent markers at one of our "We Wonder" stations. They got right to work!

They tried to fill every bit of the cups and plates with color. This took a lot of focus, dedication and persistence to cover every bit of space with bright colors!  I took their finished pieces and put them on tin foil on our grill for about 30 seconds on low heat. They turned out beautiful!

I drilled two small holes into each piece and piled them on the table with a section of chicken wire I found in my garage. The kids took wire pieces, threaded them through the cups, and then twisted the wire through he chicken wire to secure them. Talk about a fine motor work out!  It was very hard for them to do, but as they have proven, they are persistent and never gave up on this project!

After watching a Chihuly video showing his process of creating one of his chandeliers, the kids documented what they learned about Chihuly.  

had run out of plastic cups, but the interest was still there so I dug out some plastic water bottles that would mimic his chandelier style.  

These will make a beautiful addition to our sculpture! Some are also hanging in our tree by the window so the light can catch them!

worried that they would get bored or frustrated and we wouldn't have enough "glass sculptures" to finish the project, but they have been working on this for two weeks and still keep going back to work on it some more!  I am so glad that when something gets difficult, these kids press on!  I am so proud of these kids for showing such dedication and perseverance. It is amazing how many 21st Century Skills a project like this helps develope!

So many skills have been developed from projects such as this one that will help them so much as they leave the early childhood setting and start their new adventure into grade school!  Isn't that what early childhood education is all about? Preparing them by teaching them how to learn?  These kids have learned so much through authentic experiences, play, and projects this year.  Not just the basics of how to read, write and do math, but they have learned how to problem solve without the help of an adult, work together in groups as a team, persist when a task grows difficult, see a project to the end without quitting, come up with creative ideas, create plans and stick to them, but tweak those plans if necessary, get along with others, and respect authority. If we don't take time to teach these life skills in Pre-K and Kindergarten, it will be too late for them later.  When these skills are there, the other learning happens.  I am so proud to work in a district that sees the importance of early childhood education!

Here is our finished product!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Inquiring About Tortoises

Every year during the last couple weeks of school, I ask the kids if they want me to bring in my Russian Tortoise. His name is Steven.  Usually, they say yes, I bring him in, we document him, they ask questions, we read a book, they observe him, and that's the end of it. Not this year! 

As soon as I mentioned bringing him for a visit, they wanted to inquire about tortoises! We created a "We wonder..." chart to find out what they wanted to know. They came up with some great questions! Here are just a few:
"Why do they look like a rock?"
"How do they grow? Does the shell grow with them?"
"How do they put their shells on?"
"What do they eat?"
"Why do they need their shells?"
"How do they get passed an obstical?"
"How are tortoises different than turtles?"
We read books and watched videos to help us find out more information and to answer our questions. 

They started creating playgrounds for Steven and our toy turtles and tortoises to play in. This took a lot of planning, collaboration, and problem solving as they worked together.

They created tortoises in the art area using paint and pastels. 

I decided to set out a provacation to encourage documentation through sculptures of what tortoises looked like in the art area when I observed the interest forming.  Creating tortoise sculptures was a favorite!

We incorporated living and nonliving into this inquiry and also discussed what living things need to survive. Here is one chart they made. 

Finally, the long awaited day arrived and Steven the Tortoise payed us a visit.

They observed him by taking a closer look. 

They documented what he looked like and labeled the different parts of a tortoise. They were fascinated by the hexagons, trapezoids and patterns on his shell! 

They let him play on their playgrounds. 

They wondered what his favorite food was. He is an herbivore so I brought in some different things that he likes to eat. He could choose from lettuce, a carrot one of my students brought for him, an apple slice, and green beans. They all made predictions. 

He made a beeline for the carrot! The kids rushed to their tables to document what happened!

We took him outside with us and a group decided to make a playground for him out there!  This was a great gross motor workout as they lifted and arranged logs near a plant for him. They noticed how well his shell camouflaged him!  They decided he needed camouflage for protection since he didn't need it to catch prey. 

The interest in tortoises continues on in our class as we start wrapping up this school year.

We also had field day this week!  It was a day of fun and games!

The Bean Bag Toss

Relay Races

Paddles and Balloons

Very fun hula hoop game where they each have a hope, than as music plays, adults take hoops and they have to find someone to share hoops with. 

Puff Ball Races

Dance Party

Snack and free time outside

I adore all 30 of these crazy kids! I can't believe this year is already coming to an end!

Here is a hint about the last project going on in our room!  I'll post about it next week!