I am a Kindergarten Teacher for West Carrollton City Schools. I have taught kindergarten for 23 years. In this blog, you will see both teacher and students on a journey to build up our minds, muscles, and imaginations through inquiry, investigation, exploration, problem solving and teamwork. I am having inquiring, exploring and learning along side my students.
Our Student Teacher, Mrs. Madison, was noticing that our students were very interested in slime and had also been asking to make their own slime and play dough. They were bringing slime and silly putty from home to share with the class. She decided to run with this interest and connect it to a study on the properties of the states of matter.
She started by introducing the three states of matter: Solid, liquid and gas and their properties.
Here, our friend is showing how liquid takes the shape of its container.
Mrs. Madison set up a station for those who were interested to make a batch of slime. They really enjoyed exploring the properties of their slime! Stretchy, slimy, sticky were the describing words used most! It was more of a liquid in that it took the shape of its container. We mixed Elmer's glue, borax and food coloring to create the slime.
Another group wanted to make slime. After they mixed it, they noticed it had different properties than the slime from yesterday! This was more the consistency of Silly Putty! We noticed it started out as a liquid but was more solid than the slime after it set. Rather than stretching, it would rip apart as seen below.
Next, we set up a station for making play dough. We found a recipe using cold water so that the kids could mix the dough! We displayed the recipe for them to follow.
They loved the sensory experience of mixing the dough with their hands!
They asked for some rollers and loose parts to use with the play dough so I helped some of the kids put together a tray with materials to use.
Mrs. Madison brought in some books and used materials from our room to set up an area for them to be scientists and explore the properties of solids, liquids and gasses.
Here you can see scientists hard at work!
We read the book Snow Balls by Louis Ehlert. The illustrations are created by using loose parts so we set out materials for them to make snow people like Louis Ehlert. We mixed equal parts shaving cream and glue for them to create the snow people on black paper. First they drew the shape of their snow people. The kids then dabbed the mixture thickly on the paper and choose loose parts to decorate their snow people.
After they dried, Mrs. Madison showed them how the mixture changed from a liquid to a solid! They turned out adorable!
We read "Snowmen at Night" and the kids wrote what they thought their snow person would do at night when they were left alone. We displayed their writing along with their snowmen.
The kids explored the chemical reaction that takes place when you mix baking soda with vinegar! They loved this activity. I love their reaction the first time they see what happens!
Mrs. Madison discussed how when they mixed, they formed gas!
We also made root beer floats and discussed and recorded the solid, liquid and gas that they could see. I made the mistake of putting the root beer in the cups first so it was not as easy to see after we added the ice cream. If I did this again, I would put the ice cream in first, then pour the root beer over the ice cream! Usually, you can see the brown root beer as the liquid, the solid ice cream, and the bubbles filled with gas.
We set out some salt and liquid watercolors with some glue and let the kids experiment with salt painting. They loved observing how the colors and spread out across the salt crystals!
We discussed that all matter has properties and set out an invitation for kids to find items in the room made from these three properties. They found many in our room made out of metal and wood. Only our rock collection was made of stone!
I set up an area inviting kids to explore immiscible liquids (liquids that will not mix. I used vegetable oil and water with food coloring. The kids used droppers to drop the water in the oil and see what happens!
"It bubbles!" was the the observation I heard the most as the water would drop down in a spherical shape to the bottom.
Here a friend did not use the sheet I has set out, but used another means of showing what she noticed. This is a true authentic use of writing with not push from me!
Mrs. Madison set up an experience for them each to create their own immiscible liquids bottles. She mixed powdered paint with the vegetable oil to give it different colors, then colored some water with food coloring and let the kids pick the colors they wanted.
They poured each liquid in their bottle using a funnel and then added some beads for fun! Mrs. Madison hot glued the top of the bottles and wrote "Do not drink" on each bottle.
The kids loved shaking their bottles and seeing how the bubbles of liquid would blend together to form a new color, then when they stopped, the colors would separate again!
In math we are focussing on addition. We have been discussing the concept of adding as we subtilize, and decompose numbers but now we are adding the symbolic element. I added a recording sheet to my addition bottles for the kids to try and write addition sentences for each bottle. There are two sets for them to try.
This has been an amazing couple weeks filled with science! Many of these can be done at home to! The kids loved exploring the properties of matter! I am so thankful for having such a wonderful student teacher such as Mrs. Madison to come up with so many amazing experiences for these kids! We will miss her!
It started when I read these two stories about helping the animals by putting food out for them.
We decided we wanted to help the animals around our school find food. Our ground has been covered in snow for a while and through these books, they realized that winter was hard for the animals. We brainstormed things we could use that the animals would like. We dried bread and then set out materials for them to make feeders. Because we have peanut/tree nut allergies we used Crisco as a fat instead of peanut butter to stick the seeds to the bread.
The kids picked this tree in front of our school to hang the food. It looked like the tree in the book "The Night Tree" plus we love this giant tree!
The kids were very excited to hang our animal feeders and scatter nuts on the ground.
Of coarse we had to stop for a class picture. The kids had so much fun! I heard one exclaim, "This is the best day ever!!"
I am always amazed at how kids are so drawn to nature when given the chance to interact with it! As they hung the feeders, they had noticed that the giant tree was like a playground inside! When we went back after the weekend to check our feeders, we noticed that the sunflower seeds on the bread were the favorite! We collected the discarded pipe cleaners and the kids asked if they could play inside the tree. It was a perfect day for it! It was like we were in another world! They loved it.
When we went inside they wrote about what kind of animals they thought ate the food off of our tree! As I looked at their writing I noticed that some of the kids are starting to put spaces between their words!
Another experience that had them wondering were these footprints in the snow on our playground! What kind of animal made these prints?
As soon as we went upstairs we drew a picture and wrote a sentence about what kind of animal they think made those prints! They guessed anything from cats, dogs, raccoons and rabbits to bears and kangaroos! The kangaroo guess actually showed some critical thinking! He noticed some of the prints were longer and felt it had to be an animal with longer back feet like a kangaroo.
The prints and their interest inspired me to put out these experiences for them to explore animals in winter through investigation and stories. I set out animals with accurate footprints along with white play dough to act as snow and resources to notice the different tracks they made.
I also set up an area that could also be used during Story Workshop to inspire stories about animals in a winter setting that included forest animals and birds, and other loose parts to help them create a small world for the animals and then play out their stories.
Of course, both areas were used together by the kids. I love how they can look at materials and come up with their own creative ways to use them.
We had learned about how some animals hibernate, some animals migrate and some animals adapt. Check out our little friends migrating as geese from the cold to warmer climate where they found food (cutie oranges) waiting for them. They did this with our Student Teacher Mrs. Madison while I was on vacation and when I got back told me that flying in a "V" formation was much harder than they thought it would be!
I had thought to do a large scale project with them about animals in winter. I had done a large project in the past with kindergarteners about this that you can see here: Animals in Winter Part 1 and here: Animals in Winter Part 2. Unfortunately, their interest had waned by this time and they were done with this inquiry. Not every inquiry ends with a large scale project, but I like to do at least one each year. I am keeping my eyes and ears open to see what this group will be so interested in that they will want to take it further into a project and presentation! As of now, we have noticed that they are really into slime and have been begging us to let them make play dough! Let's see where that will take us next!
When we came back from Winter Break, we actually had some snow on the ground! Here in Ohio, you never know if another opportunity to explore snow will come around so we grabbed onto it! I set out some invitations for the kids to look closer at snowflakes and see what they noticed! We read a biography about Snowflake Bentley who spent his life figuring out how to photograph snowflakes so he could share their beauty with the world! I showed them his life's work and they were amazed! The book he made as his gift to the world! It is the open book you see below!
The story inspired many to visit and create their own beautiful snowflakes using white oil pastel on black paper. Look at the attention to detail in their pictures!
I also put out some loose parts so that they could create some beautiful transient art snowflakes!
Again, their attention to detail amazed me!
I had decided to revamp how I do Writer's Workshop. I had seen some videos from Opal School in the Portland Children's Museum that really inspired me to start something called Story Workshop. If you search YouTube for Opal School Story Workshop they will come up. It integrates the arts with Writer's Workshop so that our stories are not limited to pencil, crayons and paper. My first step was to get them to see the stories in their play. I wanted them to see that stories are all around us and experiences can tap into a memory or idea that turns into a story! I set up a few winter themed areas to maybe spark some memories and ideas for stories. The first one is something we call "Small World Play." Here the kids get to practice the language standards and orally telling stories as they play with the open ended materials.
I set up another area for story inspiration in the clay area.
I imagined stories about building snowmen or having snowball fights. I love when they surprise me! Instead of making a three dimensional sculpture this friend stuck the clay to the walls and created a story of a bunch of friends standing in the snow, looking up and watching the clouds go by!
I was letting the kids discover that there are stories within us, all around us and even in the materials in our classroom. Our next step is for them to use the arts to tell their stories and then publish them. They can show their story by creating costumes and putting on a play, or through dance, music and song, or by using artists materials such as paint, clay, pastels, markers, colored pencils, charcoal and wire, or by using loose parts and materials for small world play, or by playing out their story in the dramatic play area. They can show their stories to small groups or our whole class. After, we will have a writing portion where they can record or publish the stories they created or are working on. I am very excited about this but also know that this will be a learning process for all of us as our Story Workshop develops. I will keep you updated on how it is going!
I set out some new math stations. Our focus is on the teen numbers (both i.d. and that the teens are a group of tens and some ones), 3D shapes, and addition.
Below they are exploring the attributes of 3D shapes by seeing if they roll or slide.
Here they can go on a shape hunt around the room. The beautiful three dimensional pictures below came from the amazing Kristen Smith from A Day In First Grade. Teachers, check out her TPT store for all kinds of amazing resources!
Teen Bingo and a teen board game will help reinforce identifying teen numbers.
The game below was also inspired by Kristen Smith. This kids take turns using the catapult to toss a puff ball into the cups. They turn the cup over to see what the teen is. They then take a ten stick and however many ones they need from the Cuisenaire Rods to show the teen number. This is how they keep score. Whenever they get ten ones, they can trade them in for a ten stick. Whoever has the highest score wins. If they get ten groups of ten, they can also trade them in for a one hundred square and win. This one game practices teen i.d, making teens with a ten and some ones, decomposing numbers, and addition!
I made these addition tubes with beads and baby soda-bottles. This will also help them with decomposing numbers. They look at the beads and write down the addition sentence they see!
In literacy we are looking at c-v-c words (consonant-vowel-consonant) and breaking them apart into their separate sounds and putting them back together (c-a-t...cat), and breaking them into their onset and rime (c-at...cat). I brought out these letters they can wear and friends are going around the room seeing if others can read their word. I have seen them using both c-v-c words and sight words.
We recently read a book called The Night Tree! Next time, I will show you what this book inspired us to do!
After we explored Diwali, as seen in the last post, we displayed what we did and learned.
Another holiday celebrated by friends in our room was Ramadan! You can see what we learned about each celebration in the pictures.
We also had a friend who celebrated Kwanzaa.
While I pulled out children to test for report cards, our substitute teacher had family members who celebrated Hanukkah! I had him teach the kids all about it!
He taught them The Dreidel Song which they sung over and over for the next week! He also taught them how to play dreidel! They LOVED this game and it had so many math concepts connected to it! Addition, subtraction, and the concept of half.
Next we looked at how the holiday of Christmas was celebrated in different areas around the world. We learned about Los Posados in Mexico and read "The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomi DePaola.
They were able to use art mediums to show what they noticed about a poinsettia and created beautiful still life paintings! Unfortunately, I did not get photos of their beautiful art.
We learned about some Christmas traditions in Italy!
We learned that because we have a population from so many countries here in the United States, many of our traditions have come from all over the world!
As we recorded what we learned, the kids either helped read it and highlight sight words, or as you saw in the photos above, they helped spell some of the words by either filling in missing sight words or missing sounds and blends within words.
Here is our finished display showing celebrations around the world! Kwanzaa actually originated in the United States, but I pointed it to Africa as they are celebrating their African heritage. The rest of the kids projects were displayed all over our room!
A group of kids wanted to turn our Dramatic Play Area into Santa's Workshop. Since I was testing for report cards, they had to do this without much help from me! I was really proud of how well they did independently! Below you can see them brainstorming and creating a list of what they need to create a Santa's Workshop. Now THIS is writing for a reason! It does not get more authentic than this. Play is when kids get to practice the skills they are learning!
I found them a box as they told me Santa needed a sleigh to deliver toys to everyone! A wonderful friend of mine supervised this for me!
The kids took a spare piece of cardboard we cut off of the box to make Santa's sleigh and made it into a door for the workshop. I love the writing on the door! Again, authentic use of a skill!
The kids then loaded up the sleigh with toys and a globe so that they knew where to deliver the toys! Some kids acted as reindeer, pretending to pull the sleigh. They quickly learned that is was much easier to push the sleigh! They had to explore with the force of pushing and pulling for a while! There was much problem solving as they had to figure out how many could travel around the room in the sleigh and how full of toys it could be! They had to organize who could go and who had to wait. They had to problem solve how to maneuver the sleigh around the obstacles all over out room such as chairs and tables. They were very perseverant! The 21st Century Learning Skills that took place with this little side project amazed me! Creative and critical thinking, leadership skills, collaboration, problem solving and handling disappointment gracefully were the ones I saw the most of! This is why play and projects are so important, not only in education but at home! Look at all of the skills that they used, not to mention the pride they felt in what they created and accomplished independently with just a bit of guidance and encouragement from me!
All of the celebrations we studied centered around good deeds, helping others, lights, spending time with those you love and giving. The kids painted self portraits as a gift to their families. They can be used as a Christmas ornament or can be displayed as a beautiful piece of art!
They made these adorable gift bags to put the gifts in!
Here are some other holiday experiences put out in our room to explore! A loom with ribbon and bead necklaces and a christmas tree with beads and wire were set out for the kids to use to create some beauty! Both of these experiences focused on developing the kid's fine motor skills. The more the kids play with tablets rather than coloring, drawing, playing with play dough, etc, the harder time they have with holding a pencil, paint brush, or crayon which really affects their abilities to write, color, draw and create! Because of this, providing experiences to develop these muscles and improve their pincher grasp are so important!
As you can see below, the concept of weaving the ribbons in and out of the holes was very difficult for them! I will provide more weaving experiences to see if we can remedy this!
Another fine motor experience that I put out was crushing holiday spices! They had to work hard to grind them up! Here they had to write a recipe showing how many of each spice they used, crush the spice, and then they could walk around the room and let everyone smell their spice mix! Again, you can see the purposeful writing as they wrote directions and labels for this area.
When we were done grinding spices, I used them as a science invitation to look closer and document what they noticed.
I set up a STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) Challenge in our building area!
The tallest tree ended up being 49 inches!
When the challenge was over, they still loved using the cups to create!
Our Math Challenge: How many bows long is your friend?
Another Math Challenge was on our Engineering Table. What 3-D Shapes can you make with the cranberries and toothpicks! Only one was able to figure out how! Many could create 2-D, but 3-D was pretty difficult!
Another friend found directions to follow with one of our engineering tools and created a cube!
In our Literacy Area, the kids are working on handwriting skills. With the experience below, they had to create the letters by making the lines the correct way and then also put the beads on going the correct way.
The kids created sight words using these materials.
We took a picture of the sight words they made and put them on the promethium board. Whoever made the sight words would point to them and see if the others could read them. It was almost like a word search puzzle with some being backwards and upside down! They did it on purpose as a challenge!
Another favorite game is called "Stack-It." The kids pick a cup. If they can read the word, they can add it to the building. If they can't read the word, they put it aside. Our next step is to have them record some of the words they don't know to practice with a friend.
I loved the experience below. It was such a perfect example of how learning happens and is shown through play! This friend brought up these velcro hair rollers that they had been building with and said, "Look Mrs. Myers! 3 and 3 and 3 make 9!
I have also been noticing that their structures in our engineering and building areas have been getting more complex! They are working in teams and collaborating together on their own projects as they work in these areas!
To begin our inquiry into celebrations around the world, we looked at maps and globes to see how big the world is. We found Ohio on world, maps, maps of the United States and on globes. We read books to show how people live and do things in different parts of the world. We learned that people speak in different languages, eat different foods, have different homes, and different schools. Yet we all love, have friends, families, and have the same needs such as food, water and shelter.
I set up an area where they could explore globes, world maps, maps of the United States, and different types of Ohio maps showing cities and lakes, roads and counties. Paper was available to show what they notice and create maps that they see. They were very interested in the compass rose and how it showed what direction North, South, East and West is.
I also set up an area where they could explore continents through clay. Some tried to put the continents together to show the world!
The kids practiced reading and creating treasure maps in our sand box by hiding "golden nuggets" and creating a map using the pieces in the sand and also on paper.
After studying the maps and learning about how people live around the world, we started discussing different celebrations that the kids in our class celebrate. We have friends who celebrate Christmas Diwali, Ramadan, and Kwanzaa so I decided to focus on those traditions most.
We started with Diwali. It is a beautiful celebration of light! One tradition was creating Rangolies out of colored salt and sand. We watch some videos of some being created and the kids were enthralled! Since I did not have colored salt or sand, the kids made mandalas inspired by the Rangolies we saw! I set up an area for them to explore and create their own mandalas using different loose parts. I added a book about mandalas for inspiration. I was amazed at the beauty they created as they used the math concepts of growing patterns and symmetry to create them. I love when art and math come together!
They also crated mandalas using our pattern blocks.
They even started using the same math concepts at the easel as they started painting mandalas.
I let those who were interested create rangolies out of clay and beans. Many created lovely growing patterns on these also!
Mandalas started showing up outside! Some friends collaborated to create the largest one they could with the long grasses drying in our garden!
We watched a video that inspired the kids to try to create "Human Mandalas!" They had so much fun with this!
Light plays an important part of Diwali. It is a celebration of light defeating darkness. One tradition is lighting small lamps called Diyas. Children who were interested, created diyas of their own using air dry clay and beautiful beads.
Another tradition is to create beautiful henna art on their hands. We watched a video showing the use of henna to draw these beautiful designs on a hand and wrist. We have seen henna on some of the hands of our friends in the past. The kids thought it was absolutely beautiful and loved watching this!
Inspired by the video, the kids created their own henna hands.
I found an old map created by a previous class that was so faded the water had turned pink! We decided to freshen it up and use it to create a display that shows these different celebrations and traditions we are learning about and where they originated.
We documented what we had learned about Diwali on the computer together and highlighted sight words we had learned. We noticed "they" popped up a lot so we are focussing on that word right now! It is one of the harder ones for them to remember. I then put out samples of our art to show some of the traditions.
This was only the beginning of learning about different traditions and celebrations. We learned about Diwali, but have many more to learn about! We will show you what else we learn in our next post! SaveSave
The day after Halloween, the kids wanted to know if they could turn the Dramatic Play area into a Haunted House. I really didn't want to, Halloween was over after all, BUT... I try to follow their interests whenever I find out what those interests are, not mine! It is when I align the curriculum to their interests that the most learning and best work happens! So... Haunted House it would be!
We started by creating a list of what our Haunted House needed. We took that list and created expert groups to research and create each part!
Before we even started, the authentic writing started! This friend wrote a sign to hang near the area that said, "Haunted House. The scary Haunted House with scary bats. With spiders."
The expert groups met and researched the part that they were going to make. Here the spider team is counting the legs and eyes they will need when they make their spiders. They also used books for their research and looked at pictures of webs. They learned that spiders have 8 legs and can have from 2-12 eyes, but most have 8! After their research, they created their spiders and webs.
The house team looked at pictures of Haunted Houses to come up with a design for the outer house portion of ours. They said they needed black paper and yellow for the windows so it would look like the lights were on. They also wanted something spooky looking out the window! They also decided we should make a sign that says, "Haunted House."
We had an "atmosphere" team whose job it was to create a scary, but not too scary atmosphere for our Haunted House! They decided to make a stormy atmosphere! They created a three dimensional cloud out of some material that has been used year after year whenever we have needed a cloud. They strung blue beads on yarn for rain and strung yellow gold and silver beads onto pipe cleaners for the lightning, bent into a lightning shape, and hooked them to the cloud material.
They used a model to measure and cut blue ribbon for more rain. We didn't want it long enough for friends to grab.
They wanted to paint a storm so that it looked like a window with a storm outside. They mixed colors to make the perfect color for a stormy cloud.
As they used the iPad to find pictures of storms, they noticed that the lightning was white rather than yellow so they decided on white paint.
Here is the bat team researching bats with Miss Weaver, our Wright State Student.
The monster team decided on a skeleton as a scary, but not too scary monster. They used the iPad and books for their research.
Here is their finished Haunted House!
This was the first experience they had with project based learning. It was very small scale, and based on their interest. Because of this, they were excited and used the skills that we have been working on naturally. This experience has shown them that as kids, they can accomplish something big together! They are so proud of what they made and used so many skills as they created it! Authentic writing and research with a purpose was the biggest academic focus here. This is just the beginning of the things that they will accomplish this year! I can't see what else they do this year!
Since the kids were so interested in apples, I figured they would be interested in looking closer and learning more about pumpkins so I set up the room to foster their curiosity and see where they may go with it. Here are some of the invitations that I set up and the exploring and creating that happened in those areas.
I purchased pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors. So many of the kids think all pumpkins are orange! When they walked into the room, their interest was piqued, but it did not get a lot of visitors! They just were not as into looking closer at the pumpkins as they were the apples, which surprised me!
To try another perspective, I added a scale and unifix cubes for measuring. This grabbed their interest! They loved seeing how heavy the pumpkins were and documented them by drawing the pumpkins and writing the number they saw on the scale. We used the terms heavier and lighter to compare weights which is a common math core standard.
They also enjoyed seeing how tall they were and recorded their observations. I wish I had gotten pictures of their documentation of what they noticed here! With some guidance in the beginning, they did a great job of making their thinking visible!
We moved the pumpkins to another table to document what we noticed as we looked closer.
Some beginning physicists were exploring the concept of balance!
I have a lot of sculptors in our class so I made sure to make an area to show what they notice about pumpkins through the language of sculpture.
A couple friends decided to work as a team to create a pumpkin patch. It took them three days to finish it! The detail was amazing! You could tell they looked closely and made sure to add the stems, leaves and vines!
I was so impressed with this!
Many kids have started using post-its to label their work when they leave it out for display. Authentic, meaningful writing at its best!
I made and area for kids to show what they notice through transient art. Not as many were interested in this though!
I set out some opportunities for STEM experiences in our engineering and block area! The STEM challenge was: Can you make a gate that will hold the five little pumpkins using these materials? My engineers loved this!
The hardest part of this one was making it sturdy! They fell over very easily!
I set out paper for them to plan or document what they made in both areas.
Some of my architects just wanted to use the pumpkins as loose parts in their structure creations!
Because of the interest in weighing the pumpkins, I provided balance scales and heavy glass beads for them to explore the concepts of heavier/lighter, and equal weight.
For fine motor practice to develop their finger muscles, I provided a huge pumpkin with screws and screwdrivers.
I would say they really, really loved this!!!
At the end, I cut open the pumpkins for them to explore. They documented what they noticed about the insides of the pumpkins.
After Halloween, the kids decided to change our Dramatic Play area into a Haunted House! This will be our first small scale project! Stay tuned to see how it turns out in the next post!
The kids have apples for breakfast every morning but never really looked at them or noticed them. They just ate them without really thinking about it...until one day, one group of kids started looking closer at their apples. They were noticing details and marks in the skin, whether they had stems and were eating to the core to dig out the seeds. Then they started wondering. After I pointed out what this one group was noticing, others started doing the same, so I set up an area for them to look closer at apples and use art materials to document what they noticed.
They started looking closer and documenting what they noticed. They started asking questions and wondering about the apples. "Do they all have seeds?" "What colors can they be?" "Can they float?" "Why is it turning brown?"(Wondering if things sink or float is a consistent interest I am noticing with this group). We are keeping track of these wonderings so that we can answer their questions later!
Here is an observational drawing using oil pastels of a rotting apple. They are noticing it changing more every day.
We did an experiment to see if the apples would sink or float. The predictions were about half and half! They floated but we wonder why? If we throw it in the air it falls, but it doesn't in the water! We may revisit this in a future inquiry! They used their emerging writing skills as they recorded their predictions and the results.
We cut up the different apples and created signs for them for an apple tasting! They were so excited for this!
After tasting, we made a graph to collect some data. I asked them what data this graph gives us. They said, "Green has most." "Gala has fewest." But then I asked them what that means. What does this data mean? I want them to extend the graph and connect it to the experience. "Most of us liked the Granny Smith apples the best." "11 of us like Granny Smith apples." This is very hard for them at first, but they are learning!
We set up a STEM challenge to get the kids to start using their critical thinking skills. "Can you build a bridge that can hold an apple?" They then started trying to build a bridge that could hold the most apples and then started trying to figure out how to improve their designs to make them more sturdy. Here are just a few of the designs!
Each table created a giant apple to show the different colors apples can be. This was the first small scale project where the kids worked as a team to show what they noticed. They had so much fun creating these. "This is the best day ever!" was heard more than once as they were working! If they loved working on these, I can't wait to do a large scale project with this group!
They started by mixing colors that would make the perfect matching color for their apple.
They looked closer at their apples and added the small details.
We incorporated writing as they came up with words to describe what they noticed about their apples and labeled them.
After exploring apples all that we could, they dictated what they learned to me as I typed it on the computer. They started shouting out all of the sight words that we have learned so far that were popping up on our sentences! They went up to the promethium board and pointed them out to me and asked if I would highlight them! Here is our list of what we have learned about apples.
I took all of our projects and displayed them out in the hallway to show what we did as we explored apples!
I also put out examples showing what they saw using oil pastels.
Here are some examples of labeling what they noticed on the inside of an apple and individual projects showing the seasons of an apple tree.
Because I use my own curriculum I make sure to post the standards worked on during the experiences in our inquiries. These are not the only standards worked on as we also have reading, writing, and math stations covering even more.
Here is the whole display in our hallway showing all that we did.
Next we will look closer at pumpkins as we continue to practice looking closer and showing what we see, think and wonder!
We are so lucky to live in an area that has all four seasons! Fall is often a favorite. The leaves turn so many amazing colors! Every year, I wonder out loud to my students as I am modeling having an inquiring mind, "I wonder what color leaves can be?" Every time I ask this question, I am reminded of how young these kids are! They really don't have a memory of what Fall looks like. Before this year they were mostly aware of themselves, their wants and their feelings. They explored and experienced Fall, but don't have much schema other than the leaves fall off the trees and that they can play in the leaves. They predicted that leaves could be every color in the rainbow! Red! Pink! White! Orange! Blue! Yellow! Black...etc! I always have a hard time believing they are serious, but they are! They truly think leaves can change every color of the rainbow! We made this the driving question of our Fall Inquiry and went to work learning how to look closer, notice new things around us, wonder, investigate, explore and inquire! This is the mindset that we will base everything we do in our classroom so it's important to make them aware of this mindset!
We started off by going outside and playing in the leaves. They were also picking them up and having conversations about what they were noticing! "They are crunchy!" "They have lines!" "There are lots of brown ones!" "They smell bad!" "They smell good!" "This one had three colors in it!"
Next we learned about Observational Drawings. We learned that sometimes we draw and use art materials for creative art, but sometimes we use them for scientific purposes. When making art, we can make trees any color we want! When we make an observational drawing, we are trying to draw as scientists, capturing everything we notice as we look closer! Of course, these observational drawings are a type of art as well! We started out by looking at a Fall trees and collecting leaves, then drawing what we see/noticed!
I set up an area for them to explore leaves but it was too small...
so we created a bigger area for science!
The kids started exploring both outside and at our inquiry table.
I believe that children can use a variety of means to show what they notice. I love putting out artists materials for observational drawings. I put out watercolors and sharpies for my littles who speak through art.
I put out clay for my littles who like to show what they notice through sculpture.
Here are some of their observational drawings!
They started creating observational drawings of other things they wanted to look closer at. One group loved exploring the milkweed pods that have been growing all over the area of our playground that we call "Genevieve's Garden."
After they had time to explore and look closer at leaves, I set up our science area to answer our driving question! What color can leaves be? Some kids changed their minds about leaves being all colors, but many still thought there may be some of each color. As we found leaves we glued them on the paper that matched its color.
Here are the results of our experiment!
We came to the conclusion that most leaves turn red, orange, yellow, green, purple and brown. Not many turn black or pink (I couldn't believe someone found a black leaf but they did!). None turn blue, or white.
We had a lot of leaves left over so I read my favorite Fall book "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert.
The kids made all kinds of leaf creatures, inspired by her work!
As we have been learning to record like scientists, the kids are also starting to experiment with using what we call "kid writing" to label pictures or the different parts of their pictures. They have been learning the letters and the sounds that go with them. Now they are starting to apply this base knowledge as they sound out words and write down the letters they hear. This starts to happen naturally as they get into the mindset of making their thinking visible. I am seeing the beginning signs that they are starting to think this way!
Here is our Fall Leaves Display outside our door.
Here are some other things that has been going on in our classroom! The kids have learned that we have an area in our room where they can be architects and builders and their designs have been getting bigger and more intricate. Their creative and critical thinking skills are both being fostered and used in this area now! Everything is very purposeful. They are also learning how to collaborate and work as a team! A very important skill they will need in their future academic years and jobs! They are starting to record what they made for others to be inspired by. We have a special binder to hold their designs. I am also starting to ask them, "What stories do you see with your structure?" We will start incorporating stories they see during our Exploration Time into our Writer's Workshop time soon...but that is another blog post! Here is some of the products of their hard work!
We have been practicing connecting letters to sounds and letter i.d. but we are also starting to use these letters to practice sight words (we call them popcorn words because they "pop up" all the time). We learn them as they "pop up" naturally in our reading and writing! So far they have learned I, a, is, in, the, for, go, we, red, and blue. They are noticing new ones popping up all the time!
Here are just a few of the literacy stations in our room at the moment!
Matching pictures to initial sound:
Create a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and see how many letters you can balance on it before they all fall down like in the story! Record and name the letters on the recording sheet (STEM and literacy rolled into one!).
Letter Bingo. We also have picture cards to make it a bit more challenging.
The kids are diving into apples right now! You will see how they are getting into the "Project frame of mind" in the next post!
I don't buy things like color, number or letter charts from teacher stores because the kids make them so much more beautiful! I don't have classes make all of the charts every year, but when the children do create the tools, they understand the reason behind them so much more. They take ownership of them and love to use them. When they make these tools, they are more noticeable and don't fade into the background like store bought tools that were there when they walked in on their first day.
Inquiry Based Teaching has taught me how much math, science and art are interrelated! As I have learned with the kids, I have noticed that you see math in science. Math is all over nature!! You can use science to make art! We also see math in art in patterns and shapes. I have even heard that there is science in Van Gogh's "Starry Night!" It really is amazing how connected they all are!
The kids had been mixing colors in our science area and loving the new colors and shades they were creating! Here is the science invitation I had set up for them to explore.
After they explored with mixing, I set up an invitation to explore different shades of the same color.
This book is amazing for showing colors have different shades! The kids liked to use it as a reference.
Since the kids were enjoying mixing the colors in our science area so much, I thought of an idea for a number chart! It would also be a work of art! I found a huge canvas at Michaels for 70% off! It would be perfect! I gathered the materials and told the kids that we were in need of a new number chart to help us with making and identifying numbers, number words and counting. I taped the canvas into 20 sections.
The kids were very excited to start creating, especially after I told them they would be able to mix paint colors to create their own unique color for our chart! I called them over during our Purposeful Play time to explore color mixing and create their color!
They painted one square with their color.
After mixing their paint, they named their colors. Some were very creative like jelly and deep ocean blue! When the colors dried, we wrote the numbers on their color with a pencil and them they painted the number with black paint. They counted up to their square and we talked about what kind of lines they had to use to make their number and the correct way to print their number.
I wrote the name of the color they created with a sharpie.
I realized we would not be able to fit the number words or ten frames for showing how many in the squares so we made those separately. They practiced counting one to one correspondence and matching numbers to objects as we did this.
Then I called kids over to help spell the number words. Many did not realize that you could spell a number!
Here is our finished number chart!
Our math area is now complete with the tools we need, and if I do say so myself, I could not buy anything better or more beautiful at the teacher store! It is a work of art! Kid's work is always so beautiful! Here is our math area. I have math books about counting under the table for them to explore for now. Under the table is where I put books relating to the focus on top of the table. They can relax and explore math at the same time under there!
The focus in the math area this week is numbers. This provocation was created to provoke their thinking about different ways they can make numbers. They pick a number and use the materials available to make it or show it in different ways. They then share it with their partners. We are also taking pictures and letting them share what they did on the promethium board. Skills/standards practiced here: Number i.d, counting, subitizing, matching numbers to objects, and addition!
One of our math trays has this game on it called "Race to 20." They roll the dice and put that many beads on their number card and tell their partner what number they are up to. Whoever gets to 20 first wins! Skills/standards practiced: Counting, one to one correspondence, the concept of adding more, and number i.d.
Here is another game they can play in the math area. They roll the dice and put that many wool balls in to their section. Whoever fills their section first or has the most at the end is the winner! Skills/standards practiced: Counting, one to one correspondence, the concept of adding more, and being able to tell more/less by looking at objects.
Another math tray that I do not have pictured are number cards to guide them to make thes number with pattern blocks or with the geo-boards and rubber bands. Skills covered here are number i.d. and how to write the numbers as they record the numbers they created.
This post gives you an idea of how math works in our room. We have a math area as shown here, but math is definitely not limited to that area! Math happens all over our room! It happens in our Engineering and Maker's Space as they build magnificent things! It happens in our Building area as they build with our wooden unit blocks and loose parts! It happens in our art area all the time! Math is definitely not limited to one area!
The kids are now exploring leaves as they are falling from the trees right now on our playground! Stay tuned to see where that takes us!
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