Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Holiday Happenings, Ornaments and Playful Learning

While we were having our Gingerbread Man adventures the you read about in the last post, we were also having some other holiday fun!

The kids drew and cut out an evergreen and decorated it with buttons. 

Some kindness elves visited us and encouraged us to spread kindness everywhere we went!

Story-telling and writing were encouraged in our block area. 

They created an observational drawing of these beautiful poinsettias. 

We also created gifts for our families. The kids used glass, white balls and colorful sharpie markers to create one-of-a-kind ornaments. Each one was beautiful and unique! 

They also decorated some glass jar rings with jewels, then added their picture to the middle. 

They created Christmas inspired art.

Not everything going on in our room was Holiday inspired! Below you will see many of the things that they explored and learning that took place during their play! 

They created art using rocks.

They explored how to make sound in different ways. 

They explored the qualities of two and three dimentional shapes using many different mediums. 

They explored the concept of addition as adding more to a group to create a larger number. 

They explored the concept of teens being a group of ten with some extra ones. 

They have also been working hard on writing their numbers from 1-20 and from 1-100!

The kids dragged out our scale and rulers with a renewed interest in measuring. 

They have been working on reading sight words quickly,

and matching pictures to the correct letters. 

Even the Engineering Area had some literacy going on!

Of coarse we also have small guided reading groups going on! They are becoming quite the readers! 

There are so many more learning moments that have happened but this post is already plenty long! I am so proud of all of these kids! They have learning moments happening all day long! Enjoy every moment of the last few days of this year everyone!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Our Gingerbread Man Adventure: How Christmas Magic Encouraged 21st Century Skills

Every year Our class gets a visit from the Gingerbread Man! First I read a couple versions of this favorite folk tale and then Gingy makes an appearance.  He is always instantly loved by all! The kids read to him and play with him whenever possible. These friends even made a balance beam/phone system for him at the Engineering table!

Some kids created friends for him and wrote notes. The one below says, "Hi friends. How are you? I am happy to see you." This was just the beginning of all the writing that would take place!

The kids enjoyed his company so much until one day he dissappeared!  This time we were surprised by a message on our promethium board that said, "Run, run as fast as you can! You can't catch me I'm the Gingerbread Man!" Immediately the kids start thinking of ways to catch him! Their first idea was to create missing posters. We looked on the Internet at "Lost pet" posters to get an idea of what they should look like and what they should say. We made a giant one together and then the kids each wrote their own LOST or MISSING poster and taped them all over the school! They worked because every class that passed us in the hallway let us know they were keeping their eyes open for Gingy! These posters spread the magic and excitement all over out school! I'm sure the other teachers loved me for that! 

The next day, the security cameras picked up this! 

We noticed he had a friend! Now they really wanted to catch them! We created a new poster and put it by the office. 

They worked together in teams to create traps to catch them! They needed to use higher level thinking skills to create traps that could actually work! I was very proud of how well they worked together to problem solve when their traps wouldn't work as planned. They were very persistent and refused to give up! Persistence is a quality that is needed in order to be successful in everything they do in their future so we try to provide many opportunities for children to create, test it out, fail, and try again. We want them to realize that failure isn't the end! It is only part of the process to succeed! (We encourage this attitude to cross over in areas of academics also. If a child doesn't know all of their letters yet, but they have persistence, they will not give up until they do! Especially if they have reading as a goal in their mind!) When all the traps were finished, we set them up and left for the day!

When we came back the next morning, the traps were all down with notes in each that said, " Ha ha hee hee you you can't catch catch me!" I loved listening to the kids trying to figure out what the notes said! True reading for a purpose! Not one even thought to bring it to me to ask what the notes said! The security cameras also caught them runnin through the downstairs hallways again!

One friend came up with another idea! Let's create a bakery with yummy things to lure him into our room! We got right to work! 

We brought in some mortars and pestles with whole spices for the kids to grind up in the bakery to create lovely smells in our room of cloves, cinnamon and anise! The kids really worked their finger and hand muscles as they ground them up! They thought the smell may lure our gingerbread men back! 

We checked our bakery multiple times and no gingerbread men were in sight! Finally, while we were working on a Christmas tree craft together, one friend went into the bakery to check and guess who was there! Both Gingy and his friend Mingy! The kids were so excited! I'll bet the whole school heard them shouting! They promised never to run away again and the kids enjoyed them until the last day before break. They knew Santa was picking up his little friends when he came to my house Christmas Eve. They each gave them both tight hugs and kisses before we left. 

We celebrated right before Winter Break by creating our own Gingerbread Men for us to eat! No cookie cutters were used! Only their imaginations and their hands! They turned out adorable! Of coarse they ran away but Mrs. Coberly was able to trick them back into the oven so that they finished cooking!

do this every year because I love their belief in all things magical. I love to celebrate this quality in children. I think even us adults need to just believe in magical moments and look at these moments through the eyes of children! 

Also, the authentic reading and writing that comes from this amazes me every year! I never have to tell the kids they have to write! They purposely write and create the missing posters, plus write their own little notes begging Gingy to come back and tape them all over the room and the hallways!  The signs below say "Gingy Why do you go?" "Trap for Gingy" and "Ha ha hee hee we CAN catch you!" 

They all want to retell  stories about the Gingerbread Man in which they create stories with a beginning, middle and ending, and  a problem and solution! They also have to think about the characters and the setting when they write these gingerbread stories.  Usually they write 3 page stories but most of these ended up being 6 pages or more!

I also love the natural way they start using 21st Century Skills when trying to figure out how to catch the missing Gingy! Problem solving, persistence, collaboration, critical thinking, creative thinking, and communication all were being used as they came up with plans to catch him and then carried the plans out! Even when kids are struggling with the academic side of kindergarten, if they learn these skills, the academic piece will follow! 

It makes for a crazy and loud couple of weeks, but the magic and authentic use of skills make all of the craziness worth it! I hope you all have a happy holiday season!