Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Holiday Fun in Kindergarten

Since we have been investigating birds, we didn’t do a big holiday unit, but we still celebrated! Everyone in this group celebrates Christmas so we focused on our family traditions in our discussions and why our traduces are so special. I did set out some holiday themed experiences! 

In math we are continuing to think of math concepts we have learned and show them! I set out an invitation with a few examples to inspire them.

Here someone made an example of a circular pattern.

This circular pattern has other patterns within it!

Here someone showed an example of sorting.

This friend showed an example of counting and showing how many.

The next two friends showed examples of addition.

There were so many others but since I was testing for report cards I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked!

We made a Christmas tree as this was a tradition shared by all of us! I don’t have a class tree so we make our own!

They also made one with loose parts! 

I put out some spices for them to crush using mortars and pestals. 

This loved this and our room smelled amazing! They created a recipe showing how many of each spice they will use and then added the number of spices together! After they crushed it up, they would put it in a small bowl and take it around the room so that others could smell their spice recipe. Then they put it in a bag to take home. We did hang some in our hallway to make it smell good too!

I put out some dough and loose parts for them to create Christmas cookies...another tradition many did at home.

Their favorite though was the gingerbread man! We read about ten different versions of the story! A mysterious gingerbread man visited us but then ran away! We made posters both collaboratively in small groups and individually. 

We came up with some more ideas to catch him! They made gingerbread friends and taped them in the hallway to lure him leading up the stairs to our room! They said things like, “Come this way Gingy!” “Come up the stairs!” “Keep going!”

Then they made a trap and a gingerbread house in our room to catch him! They made candy canes and used those to make a trail leading to the house and trap.

They not only worked, but also caught another gingerbread friend! The kids were so excited!

I am amazed at how good their reading and writing skills are if what they are writing is truly meaningful for them! The more authentic and purposeful the writing experiences are, the better they write! 

We ended our week with hot chocolate and frosted Christmas trees! 

My gift to them was a scarf! They wore them all day long!

Their parent gift was a Christmas ornament containing a ribbon showing how tall their child was in kindergarten and a school picture. I know as a parent of grown children, I love looking at the ornaments they have made through the years. Especially ones that have pictures of their cute little faces, show tiny handprints (how could they have been so small), and how little they were. 

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Inquiring About Birds

This group lead me to their interest in birds while we were outside playing every day! They were really into building nests. Every day they would show me nests they made. 

They also found nests and they started wondering about the birds that made them. I usually wait until Spring for this type of inquiry, but they were so interested in it now, I decided to follow their lead in the moment. When they have choice and are interested in what they are learning about, they want to be actively involved. They desire to learn more and authentically apply and use the reading, writing and math skills we have been learning as they investigate, explore and create stories related to their interests.

I set up some invitations in the room to invite them to explore, look closer, and create stories. I do this to make our room a place where no matter where they go, they will be using skills they need to be successful in whatever they do, whether it be academic skills from our standards or 21st Century Learning Skills such as creative and critical thinking, collaboration and teamwork, problem solving, etc. The environment itself is a teacher. The Reggio philosophy calls it the third teacher. Here are some of the invitations to learn and what they did with them!

This one was an invitation to look closer at nests and record what they noticed. They could also create their own nests. Most saw stories in these materials and created, told, wrote and acted these stories out! This was the messiest station! 

I created a small world area to invite them to create stories. I was very curious what stories they would see in these materials as they are in the mindset now of seeing stories almost everywhere in our room! You can see how they used the materials to create a setting for their stories with characters playing rolls. They are learning that stories have a beginning, middle and end, a problem and solution, and a setting showing where stories take place! This knowledge carries over during our writer’s workshop time whether they are writing the story they created here or different ones!

In our math area, they learning to find and see math in their stories. We have been learning that math is a natural part of our lives. That we are surrounded by it and use it all the time! Here is the invitation to find math and create math stories. We displayed them on our Promethium Board to let the kids tell their math stories and for the class to tell us about the math they see.

Here are some invitations to look closer at different kinds of birds and use art materials to show what they noticed, or to just be creative.

In our Maker Space, we noticed that blue jays and cardinals were our favorite birds. I was amazed at how creative they were in this space! They created these without any help or guidance from me at all. They had to problem solve and had other kids join them to create what we call an engineering team. The team is used to help figure out how to connect items together that won’t stay or figure out what other materials they can use if what they originally planned for was not available! They help see if there is a flaw in the design and help improved it. I loved the perseverance seen here. Instead of giving up or leaving projects as is, they kept trying or found someone to help problem solve. We all know how important these skills are in life! This is why areas like this one are so important in classrooms of any grade.

Our sculptors also showed what they noticed using clay. Their attention to detail really showed what they noticed!

 For a mini project, the kids created a nest and a bird, labeled it and helped create a display to show some of our learning journey from this inquiry.

The kids loved this inquiry. It has sparked some other ideas for when we come back. They love everything to do with animals and their habitats. I have a feeling we are not totally finished with birds either!  I hope everyone is having amazing holidays with your families! Until next time!