Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Our Sky Inquiry

I have found that most of the interests that the kids show me that lead to inquiries have something to do with the world around them. I have wanted so much to do an inquiry on the ocean or rainforest but they rarely get as excited about those as they do what is going on in our room or in the world outside our window!  Ohio's science standards include inquiring about the sky, specifically the sun, moon, and stars.  To see if I could hook them into this inquiry, I took them outside and we each found a quiet spot to "look closer" at the sky.

We gathered together and discussed what we saw, thought and wondered about the sky.

They wanted to record what they noticed about the sky so we grabbed our clipboards, paper and tool bags and made observational drawings of the sky. They also wrote what they saw, thought or wondered. 

They were hooked! There was so much that they wanted to know about the sky!
-How does the sun move across the sky?
-Why is the sky blue but in space it is black?
-How does the moon change shape? 
-We need the sun, but do we need stars?
-Can we see the moon in the day?
-How was the moon made?
-How are clouds made?
-How do clouds move?

Based on our discussions, I set up some experiences to explore and found books and videos to help us with our investigation. They had discussed that the sky can be many different colors. As we looked closer they noticed that the sky was many different shades of blue.  This sparked a discussion about the colors of sunsets. I set up colors in our Art Studio to alow them to explore and show what they noticed. Blues were on one side, reds, oranges and yellows were on the other. 

We displayed what they noticed in the hallway. 

I set out some books, pictures, and materials for them to record what they might see, think and wonder about the moon.

They thought it was interesting that the moon didn't really change shape. It is always a sphere, but that the sun's light and shadow create the different shapes. 

They also learned that the moon orbits the earth. 

The kids were fascinated by the moons rough surface. They learned that it had not only craters but mountains! I mixed flour with white paint and they used it to create the moon with its rough, rocky surface. They used a water bottle to make the craters, then wrote something new they learned about the moon. 

also set out some books, items and materials for them to explore the stars. 

They learned why they look so small (because they are so far away), and that if you connect them they make pictures called constellations.  They enjoyed creating their own. 

Below, this friend is documenting that he noticed the stars were not all white but also blue and red! He was very excited to share this discovery with the class!

We then found out that each color star was a different temperature. 

We also learned that stars have a cycle and our sun is our very own star that is so close we can see it in the daytime!

I had a small area where they could explore about the sun and create the sun using spin art. 

They took a closer look at the sun to show what it looks like in the hallway. 

They painted it...complete with solar flares...

and wrote facts we had learned about the sun. 

We then showed how the earth goes around the sun (I guess we should have put the earth a bit closer).

The kids found out that it takes one year for the earth to travel around the sun. I posed the question, "So how many times have you traveled around the sun?" This was a great way for them to understand that for every year they have lived they have traveled around the sun that many times! We used this opportunity to document how the earth moves around the sun. 

Kids are always fascinated about the world around them. They didn't initially show interest in the sky, but once I had them look closer, there was no stopping them!

With only one week of school left, I know exactly how to keep them exploring for a few more days! Just wait and see what our last mini inquiry will be as we end our school year!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Our Poetry Celebration

We decided to have some fun with our writing and explore poetry. We read some wonderful poetry books to help them see how poems are different. Some of the poetry books we read were written by kindergartners from my previous classes! The kids were very inspired and excited to get started! 

I started out by showing them how poets can write poems about ANYTHING! My favorite poet to read to them to prove this point is Valerie Worth. Her poems are short, simple, and about very random things!

I put random objects on their tables and told them to look at them with poets eyes. They looked very closely, noticed the details and started writing! 

Next we talked about white space and making a poem "look like a poem." We tell them that they can have fun with their words! They don't have to follow the conventional rules of writing! They loved this and those who had been having trouble with the conventional rules of writing really flourished. Students took clipboards everywhere so they could look at the world with poets eyes and write poems...especially when we went outside!

We started reading and focussing on some different types of poetry that they could  write. Free Verse,  "Sound Poems," picture poems where you incorporate the words into the pictures, -ing poems, list poems, etc. Most seemed to enjoy Free Verse. 
After most had written close to 20 poems, they picked out one poem for our class book. This was the poem they would read for our Poetry Celebration. 

This Poetry Celebration became a very large project! They came up with some menu ideas and collected data to find out which treat to make for our parents. 

Strawberry Torte had the most votes! We then started thinking about drinks. I told them I had found some herbs on the playground that we could make tea from!  We found mint and lemon balm. I also had some in pots. 

We tasted and smelled the herbs and made a graph to gather information. 

We created a banner for our room. 

Some worked on centerpieces for our tables to provide a beautiful setting. 

We wrote the recipes for our teas and followed them. We dried and crushed the herbs ourselves. The room smelled fabulous! What a great sensory experience for all of us! 

We sat the tea in the sun to warm and steep. 

Our next step was to make the tortes. 

We wrote invitations for our families to join us. 

We set up the room and made it beautiful for our families visit!

Our poetry books were displayed proudly on our tables. 

The kids went through and practiced reading all of their poems in their poetry books.  

We set out the refreshments. 

When everything was ready, the parents came in and the kids each read their poem. We had jazz music playing in the background to add more atmosphere and snapped for our friends to show how much we loved their poems. They did such a beautiful job!

After the poetry readings, the kids read to their parents from their own poetry books that they had written themselves and enjoyed some refreshment. 

It was such a lovely time and I truly love connecting with the families. The kids were so proud of all that they had accomplished. Writing poetry gave them a new purpose for writing and a new way to explore writing. They were excited and focused. Knowing they would be presenting to their families gave them a purpose and this made them do their personal best on every page! I do this every year because of the wonderful learning and life experiences that come from it every single time.