Saturday, June 6, 2015

Our Last Week: Inquiring About Tortoises

Every year I bring my Tortoise in for a visit during the last week of school. His name is Steven. 

After putting away our sky inquiry experiences it was easy to set out some pictures for inspiration and art materials so the kids could show what they noticed about Steven and tortoises using different mediums such as water color, pastels, tempra paint at the easel, collage and clay. 

The kids created many beautiful pieces that showed what they noticed! 

They also used loose parts to create tortoises...

and pasta!

They loved trying to create habitats, mazes, and obstacle courses for him. This took a lot of planning, collaboration and teamwork as they came up with designs together and worked together to build them. 

He had so much fun interacting with the kids and exploring!

The kids observed him and documented what they noticed. They labeled all the parts of a tortoise and wrote their favorite thing that they learned about Steven.

We also wondered what his favorite food would be.  They made predictions and then observed!

He chose the carrot first on the first day.  The second day he chose peas. 

Writing was happening everywhere during playtime! Wonderings, cards, stories...all about and for Steven.  The message written by our friend below says, "I wonder what Steven is going to do in the habitats?"

I love this little tortoise sized card one friend made to keep in his habitat at home. 

It was a wonderful way to spend the last few days of school. They were focused on tasks of their choosing and had so much fun together as they did it.

On the last day we watched a movie, ate popcorn, played with each other and enjoyed each other's company. A book was made for the future kindergartners with all of he things they can expect. My favorites were, "You will look closer at everything" and "You will learn about whatever you want" and "You will explore!"  

It was so hard to say goodbye to these special friends! When you spend nine months, five days a week, six hours a day with someone, you create a very strong bond with them. It is so hard to say goodbye as they leave knowing this wonderful community will be split up into seperate elementary schools and most I will never see again. We shed a lot of tears as we said goodbye but we have wonderful memories that we will cherish forever! I will miss these kids!

Have a wonderful summer and please keep in touch!


  1. Darla,
    I LOVE all your inspiring ideas and the way you bring authentic experiences into your classroom. I am slowly trying to do the same but I feel as though each year, it gets tougher due to all the mandates. I have a quick question: Aside from following the common core standards, do you have specific guidelines that you must adhere to? A specific curriculum? Specific assessments?
    I have a specific math program that I am required to use, as well as a specific phonics program. All this seems to interfere with the authentic experiences I would love to incorporate. Any advice?

    1. I am very lucky to work in a district that is trying to get more inquiry and project based teaching and learning in all the grades pre-k through 12! The only curriculum Kindergarten has is a math curriculum but we were told that it is a tool to use as we need to get them to their goals. We are not mandated to use it as it is. I looked through it to make sure I used the proper vocabulary and knew exactly what skills were needed, then incorporated it into inquiries, projects, play and stations. I do have a short calendar time that some of these skills are taught in. So I do have more freedom to prove how well the kids succeed when using authentic experiences to learn and meet their common core goals. I am hopeful that if our administration changes that my track record of success will allow me to continue to teach in this way and help others to do the same! I will be posting my schedule this summer which shows that I still have whole group teaching experiences. Maybe when I get that here on the blog it will help you figure out how to make time for more authentic learning experiences. Good luck and don't give up! We all have to make it work differently based on mandates of our districts, but is still possible!

  2. I would love to be in your class, Darla!
    Enjoy your summer break.
    - Rachel (",)