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The last week is always hard.  Grades are in so we spent this last week enjoying our last moments together.  All of these kids will be split among four different elementary schools so they will not all be in the same school again until Jr. High, so I wanted to make sure they had time to just enjoy each other as a community before they all left to go their separate ways.

We spent a lot more time outside as the weather was beautiful!  A group of kids noticed that there was a cool bug on the ground! I took a picture so they could share it with the class.


Later they all came running back to me saying I had to come back and see what this bug did!  If they did not show me where it was, I would have never seen it!  It was so perfectly camouflaged! Can you see it?


Here is a close up!  We talked about why it needed to do this and had such a wonderful authentic lesson on camouflage! We took more pictures and they presented what they learned to the class. Here is a close up to help you see it!


We continued to tend to our garden. We were getting frustrated because as soon as we felt the lettuce was really taking off and growing, we would come back to find it so small!  We thought maybe the grass was taking away all of the nutrients?  We weren't sure but continued to weed and water and hope we would be able to pick it and taste it!


These kids loved being outside! They are natural explorers!


I brought my pet tortoise, Steven, in to school for them to play with!  We let it walk around as they asked me all kinds of questions about him!




We wanted to see what food he liked best, but he was not hungry!  He sniffed the lettuce and that was about it!


They created things for Steven to play on.  They liked making tunnels for him to crawl through.




On our last day of school, we had Field Day all day long!  It is such a fun way to end the year!  Each class tie dyed t-shirts for a team color and we played all day!






My daughter visited and stayed with us for the morning. They were so excited to hang with her!


The kids loved cheering us teachers as we played "Sponge Basketball."  It was a good excuse to get wet!  It was so hot outside!



We went to the garden to pick a piece of the baby lettuces and try them.  We just could not get them to grow!! I found out the next day, after the kids were gone, why they would not grow.  I CAUGHT A MOMMY AND BABY GROUNDHOG MUNCHING AWAY HAPPILY AT OUR LETTUCE!!  That explains why they would seem so big one day, and smaller the next! Well, at least someone got to enjoy our lettuce!


Then came the time we were all dreading.  It was almost time to say goodbye!  This part is extra hard for me.  We are an early childhood center so we do not get to see them grow through grade school.  For us teachers here, this is goodbye for good.  It is heartbreaking and I try so hard not to cry, but I can't. We took a last class picture together!  Of course we had to do a goofy one too! You can see on the white board some of their advice to next year's class.



Then, I gave them their gift.  I gave them a magnifying glass and a notebook, and took a graduation picture for them. I added a note explaining my choice of gifts and saying what is on my heart at the end of every year.


I read the note to them and told them how incredibly proud I was of them.  I congratulated them on the accomplishment of becoming first graders! They have all accomplished amazing things this year.  I gave them a chance to hug each other and say goodbye and then we lined up.

nbjv 

As you can tell by their faces, they were not ready to say goodbye.  There were lots of tears.  As we walked to the busses, I reminded them that this is a happy time.  They are going to be starting a new chapter in their lives and will make so many more new memories and new friends...but they were not having any of that in this moment.


I gave them one last hug as they got on their busses.  We have a tradition where all the teachers stand by the first bus and wave as all the busses roll pass honking their horns!


It was such a wonderful class!  I truly love them all and will miss them.  I will cherish all of the memories that we have made together and I wish them and all of you families a very wonderful summer full of play, exploration and fun!
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There were some things about the arrangement of our room that had been bugging me for a while.  toward the end of each year, I start thinking about how the room could be better for next year!  I decided to have the kids help out this time and see what thought they had about it.

We looked at our room critically and figured out what areas needed improvement.  Some problems we noticed were: 1) They needed more room for building in the block area and a way for them to share their creations so everyone could see them.  2)The Dramatic Play area was too small and crowded. 3) I wanted a table in the art studio corner.  4) We needed a place to put our larger "works in progress."

We brainstormed some solutions and got to work!  I put everything into the middle of the room while they were at specials. I went ahead and made the math area as those shelves are too heavy for them to help with. Here is what they came back too.  They were very excited to get started!


The kids came in and emptied everything off of the block shelves and in the home living furniture,


and then we got to work.





Here is our new room arrangement!  A gift for next year's kindergartners from this year's class.
We put our Math Area in the smaller space where Dramatic Play used to be.  They take the trays off the shelves and take them to the nearest table or our meeting area so this area did not need to be large.  Our space under the table is our quiet area where kids go voluntarily to regulate their emotions or talk and problem solve with a friend.  It is also a space to go when they just want some quiet time or time alone.  It is more private here in this area now.


Our Reading Area which consists of our library and literacy stations flows together better than it did before.  The library and station area before were divided into two areas. Now they can use both areas together.  The small cabinet that was in art will now be a small table for literacy invitations.


We added the coffee table that used to be in the literacy to our Art Studio Corner.  It was here before and I moved it, but regretted it.  A nice sized area for Art Invitations or Observational Drawings/paintings was desperately needed here!


Our Dramatic Play Area has much more space!  They came up to me asking me if they could have the magnetic hooks.  I asked what for and they wanted them to hang up the costumes used in this area!  How brilliant!  I would never have thought of that! The Blocks are nearby and could also be used creatively in this space!


Our building and engineering area is always a very popular area.  We moved it right next to our meeting area so that when they want to share their structures or show how their machines work, we can all see from where we are naturally gathered.


We did not solve the problem of where to put "works in progress!"  This has been a problem I have been trying to solve for years!  Other than that, I love the flow of the room. It is more open and everything is easily accessible.  They played in our new environment to test it out and decided that it was a success and worked very well!!



This is the first time that I have involved the kids in getting the environment ready for next years kids.  They had such great insight as to what to do!  I may do this at the end of every year!
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In the last couple weeks of school, we decided to do an inquiry about the sky.  Our Driving Questions were, "What do we see in the daytime sky? What do we see in the nighttime sky?" The sun, moon and stars are in Ohio's science standards, but the students always end up being fascinated. The things they said they see were the pretty colors of the sky, clouds, rainbows, the sun, stars and moon. After we listed these, they started telling me things they noticed that happens in the sky, and then the wonders started.  I love how much more complex their wonders get as the year goes on!  "Is the earth still, or is it moving?" "Where does the sun go at night?" "Does the sun move around the earth like  the moon does?" "If the sun is a star, why is it so much bigger than the other stars?" "How do the sun and moon move?"

I started out with rainbows and sky colors. I found that most of them already knew the order of the colors and how rainbows are made.  They loved creating rainbows though so I set out an area for them to create with art materials and prisms with flashlights.



They were fascinated with the colors that the sky can be so we read "Sky Colors" and I set out opportunities for the kids to create their own "sky colors."




They turned out beautiful!!



We read many books about clouds, both informational and fictional.  They learned that there are three main kinds of clouds.  They showed their learning by creating a mural of the daytime sky. Here are some working on the different kinds of clouds.






Next we learned about the sun.  Here they are making the sun for our mural.



We had noticed that you could also see the moon in the daytime sky but it was lighter. We made a moon out of vellum paper and added it to our mural along with facts that we had learned. Here is the finished Daytime Sky Mural!


They were amazed that the sun was not moving around the earth, but that the earth was spinning instead.  As we were exploring this concept further, they started wondering about the earth.  "Is the earth in the sky, because, you know, it is in space and space is the sky?" How does the earth spin but we don't feel like we are moving?"  "What is inside the earth?" We took a little break from what we saw in the sky to address these wonders.  They created spin art of the earth and wrote one fact they thought was interesting that they had learned about the earth. We also made diagrams showing the inside of the earth.






Next we started learning about the moon and the stars.  I set out some invitations for them to research, explore, and show what they notice.



I put out a picture of Van Gogh's Starry Night for inspiration at the easel.






 They started on our night sky mural.  We started with the stars.  Some created their own constellations! They made them all white, but then later added other colors as they found out that stars can be red, blue, yellow and brown.



We added the phases of the moon:


Here is a picture of our night sky!





I wish that we had more time for this inquiry!  They discovered galaxies and wanted to explore those further.  This happens at the end of every year!  They get so excited about exploring and inquiring as they are introduced to new and unfamiliar things because they are in that mindset!  Everything they see, they want to learn more about! Seeing them like this at the end of the year, I would love to see them in an inquiry based classroom with this mindset in first grade! I think their excitement for learning and things they would want to explore would almost be hard to keep up with!  If they did inquiry and interest based learning in first grade (or any grade!), the learning would be unstoppable and amazing!!
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My storage room was so full of boxes and the end of the year is approaching, so I had to do something!  I came up with this idea: Turn our Maker's Space into a Box Project Space! We read books about what you can do with boxes if you use your imagination! You can see them below with the boxes in my invitation to create!


I told them they could use anything they needed in our room and my storage room to create what they wanted.  They used our Planning Sheet to write what they were going to make and create a list of the materials they would need. They also had to draw a picture of their design. They got right to work!


Games were a fun one for them to make, especially this one!  How many puff balls can you get in your cup? Here are a couple designs! Here was the original design.


I love how this design inspired two friends to create their own version.  They noticed that puff balls were going off the box, so they added a backdrop to solve that problem. They also added directions and a place to store the directions. Now that is some problem solving, critical and creative thinking happening right there!




They also made rules for the class to follow if they played their game during explorations time!  This brought up a great discussion about how all rules have a reason behind them and that we all need to respect others property!


A couple made some robot masks. I love this giant one!



This friend encountered a problem!  She wanted to make a car, but all of the larger boxes were taken. A friend helped her and they came up with the solution of taking a smaller box and opening the flaps, then taping them together!   She made a car that she could sit in with a key and put it by the Dramatic Play area for others to use.





She also made some rules you can see below that say, "You cannot pull on it. If someone is in it, you cannot push it."  True authentic use of writing skills right there!


This friend also had a problem!  She and a friend were working together and wanted a car to fit two people.  Here was the problem:


At first they gave up and were making a car for one that they could share.  Here they are testing out the strength of the cups they are using for wheels to see if they will hold them up.


This didn't work so they were inspired by the previous friend's design to draw the wheels on.  They still really wanted two to sit in it so they came up with the idea of cutting two boxes and putting them together!


This friend made an airplane!  It ended up more elaborate than this so this was a work in progress! I wish I had a picture of his amazing final product with a tail, rudders, war guns (he loves planes and know the names of many military planes), propellers, and more!


Here are some friends collaborating to make a bus that could fit a driver and one passenger. They painted it and then put it together!  Here is their design!



Some used pieces of boxes to create beautiful works of art!



Mr. Myers presented the District Asset Builder of the Month at our school so he dropped by.  He is a banker so the kids had a lot of questions about banking for him.  He let them all hold a silver dollar to see how heavy it was!


This was such a great thing for them to do toward the end of school!  It really gave them a chance to use the 21st Century Skills that we have been focussing on so hard this year! Next year, if I accumulate a lot of boxes, I may do a whole inquiry on what we can do with boxes a bit earlier in the year so that we have more time and make some bigger projects! This was a completely independent invitation that was put out during our sky inquiry which you will see in the next post!
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Why Play Based Learning? Kids are naturally curious about how things work.  Through their play they are natural scientists!  They are always wondering..."What would happen if I did this?" And then they do something to find out.  They are constantly wondering why, and if we don't tell them all of the answers, they will naturally, through their play try to find out the answers on their own. This is why play based learning is a must in Kindergarten.  It is literally how they learn about the world around them and how it works.  When play is taken away and replaced with screens, think about all of the base concepts about their world that they are not learning and figuring out. This will make it harder for them to figure out when they are older!  I cannot stress enough that children learn so many important concepts through play!

Cause and effect, transfer of energy, ramps and levers...these are physics concepts that can only be explored through best way children learn...through their play!  I had noticed the kids setting up dominos and then knocking over the first one to see the chain reaction.  After seeing this interest, I showed them this video of a huge and fun Rube Goldberg Machine!  They were amazed! Click the link and enjoy!

This too Shall Pass Rube Goldberg Machine

I set out materials to invite them to create their own Rube Goldberg Machines!



They went right to work!  During our play block, this was a favorite activity.  In the pictures below, you will see children developing much needed 21st Century Skills.  These are the skills that they need in order for them to be successful in life!  Critical Thinking Skills, Creative Thinking Skills, Collaboration, Communication Skills, Problem Solving Skills, Perseverance when things don't work out as planned, working well with others as a team, dealing with disappointment, Grit, and taking responsibility.  Could any of these skills be honed in any other way in children other than play? Can they solve problems if they don't have any to solve? This right here is why play is so, so, so important at this age and must be a priority in their learning environments in school and at home! Check out these images of them and their creations:












It took multiple tries to get dominos set up without them all falling down multiple times!  They really showed how much perseverance they have developed by not giving up even when they were extremely frustrated!




Documentation showing how their machine will work! Authentic writing. "It is going to hit the car."
I noticed an interest in mazes as they played with the dominos so I set out an invitation to create their own mazes.



I also set out an invitation to create a maze with Legos.  They loved this and really had to use those critical thinking skills to figure out paths that would work and get the marble to its goal! In the first maze below, the purpose was to make the marble touch the door in order to be able to take the "door" off so the marble could go through to the next one.  How brilliant is that??




For children to succeed, the skills developed during these play opportunities are equally as important as Literacy and Math which is why equal time must be made for opportunities like this for our children in our classrooms.  Our goal is to create adults who can succeed. These 21st Century Skills are non-negotiable for success.  They need to develop them early while all these connections are happening in their brains during early childhood.  That way, they will be able to grasp these concepts on a more complicated level when they are older because they explored them when they were younger. Early Childhood Educators, don't ever doubt your importance!

During our play block, they used their knowledge of literacy and math when they needed to use them.  This made for authentic literacy and math experiences when the kids use the reading, writing and math skills I have taught them without even thinking about it.  They just use them naturally...because they need to.  The more they use the skills in play, the better they get at them.  While they play, I notice what their needs are academically and help them get to the next step.

All of this is why I am so passionate about helping other kindergarten teachers keep play in their classrooms too!  I am so lucky to work where play is valued.
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I hid something new in a box and told the kids that they could guess what it was!  The only clue they had was the size of the box.  They came up with some great guesses!


They were very excited to see that there were caterpillars inside of the box.  Immediately they began to wonder things about the caterpillars.  "Are they predators?" "How many legs do they have?" "Are they a type of worm?" "Can caterpillars grow up?"


I set them up a few different ways for the kids to observe and record what they notice.




I made sure to also incorporate books for research and paper for observations and story paper for butterfly inspired stories.





I also set out an area for small world play but added clay for them to create their own butterflies or caterpillars for their stories.


 My family took a trip to a butterfly house in Cincinnati and a blue morpho butterfly kept on landing on my husband.  I showed them this picture and it became one of their favorite types of butterflies along with the monarch.

Th kids created sculptures of a blue morpho butterfly emerging out of its chrysalis. We stuffed a paper bag with scrap paper and used the iPad to see what their chrysalis looked like. They were light green, round on the top and pointy on the bottom.  They went about trying to replicate it!

 They used blue and turquoise tissue paper on a paper plate to make the blue morpho butterflies.  They accented the wings in black like the photos we had seen and then they asked if they could add glitter.  This group would add glitter to everything if I let them!


Some friends enjoyed using the language of sculpture to show what they noticed about butterflies.


I loved how they also recorded their observations and labeled the parts of the butterfly while at the sculpture table!


 When they finally hatched, we discussed what, as living things, they needed to survive.  They knew through our research that they needed nectar so we put our flowers in it.  I added orange slices to make sure they had enough. They really enjoyed watching the butterflies use their proboscis to drink from the orange slices!


After observing them for a couple days, they started debating what type of butterfly they were.  Most thought they were monarchs because of the orange and black coloring.  Others thought it was a painted lady because it had a brown body.  We watched videos of the cycle of each kind.  They noticed the monarch caterpillar and chrysalis was very different from ours.  They realized our butterflies were painted ladies based on the type of caterpillars they were, what their chrysalis looked like and the brown body.

Finally, it was time to give them thier freedom.  We took them outside and let them go.  One decided to stick around and let the kids take a very close look for quite a long time!



We documented what we learned by creating the butterfly life cycle to hang in the hallway to show other students what we learned.




The kids also loved creating butterflies out of coffee filters in this oldie but goodie activity!  They used water based markers to create beautiful designs on the filter and then we sprayed them with water.  The affect was bright and beautiful!  They wrapped a pipe cleaner around the filter for the body and antennas.



Here are a few other things going on in our room!

Exploring the attributes of three dimensional shapes.



Subtraction Smash!

Exploring the attributes of two dimensional shapes.


Creating addition and subtraction stories using insects.


Writing and reading sight words or c-v-c words the old fashioned way: with a quill and ink (or in this case, liquid water colors).


In our dramatic play area, they have turned it into a jewelry making area!  A lot of math is happing in this area!  Patterns, symmetry and measuring mostly.


The kids have been showing an interest in knocking over dominoes so next, we are going to explore Rube Goldberg machines and see where that takes us!
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Since the middle of February while were creating our dragon project, I started to notice something.  The kids were taking the logs out of our building area and creating "bands" with them as drum sets.  Kids were making shaker's at the maker's space, two friends brought three sizes of clay to me and wanted to show the class how when they thumped them each size made a different sound.  Another friend took a plastic bottle wrapper off the bottle and pulled on both ends sharply and showing us the snapping sound it made.  I was hoping to avoid it this year, but somehow, every year, kids start exploring sound! So....guess what our next large scale inquiry is:  Sound!

I set out some areas for them to explore first.  Then we will let them wonder.







I set out glasses for them to compose their own music and perform for the class.  I had planned on it being an exploration of pitch, but they noticed something else instead. At first the compositions were very random, then one friend colored an AB pattern and played it.  It sparked a discussion on how there could be patterns in sound and also defined "rhythm" as their patterns became more complex.


After they were done with this area, I set out these materials to see what they noticed about sound. We discovered that the more water that was in the bowls, the lower the pitch and the less water the higher the pitch!



For our Engineers, I put out materials for them to create instruments and show what you have to do to get it it to produce sound.


They created instruments that produced sound through shaking, striking, rubbing and strumming.


For our artists, I set out pictures of instruments for them to look closer and then draw its outline with a sharpie and creatively paint it with watercolors.



We also looked at Picasso's Blue Guitar painting, then hung it at our easel to inspire artists to create their own.



As they explored, two main things came up in our wonders which became our driving questions.  How is sound made? When does sound become music?

We learned that sound is caused by vibrations and that the sound waves travel through the air to our ears.  But something had to happen to make the vibrations start? The kids through exploring came to the conclusion that sound is made by striking, shaking, blowing, rubbing, strumming and plucking. We made instruments to model the different ways to make sound.

To show that sound can be made by shaking, we made maracas.


To explore the concept of pitch, we provided different fillings for maracas: Sand (not pictured), rice and two different sizes of beans, then we compared them.



We also used these as guiros to show show that sound can be made by rubbing.  They just ran a craft stick over the ridges of the bottle.


To show that sound can be made by blowing, we made harmonicas!  The first time we tried them they didn't work.  I realized that we needed thicker rubber bands to create the sound. They could tell the rubber bands were vibrating as they produced sound. They were very loud! The kids loved them!


To show that sound can be made by strumming or plucking, we made cup guitars! They have a great rich sound when you put them by your ear and pluck them as the sound is amplified by the cup!
We used three different sized rubber bands to create different pitches. The kids could really see the vibrations with these.  They could also feel the vibrations on their hands.


To show that sound can be made by banging, we made drums!


To organize our data, we created a web map showing the different ways to make sound and the instruments that are used for each one.


To explore when sound becomes music, I showed them videos of a group called STOMP.  They use random objects to create different rhythms with different pitches.  Look them up on YouTube! They are amazing and the kids loved watching them.  They were inspired and created their own STOMP inspired groups using random objects we could find in our room and our closet! You can see some videos of these on my Instagram account at darlamyersclass.






Through STOMP we realized that when sound has a pattern it gives it rhythm, and when sound has different pitches added to the rhythm it creates music!  After all of our exploring and investigating, we wrote informational books about sound to show what they learned.  The kids really loved exploring the science of sound!

Another thing going on in our room is a Mo Willems author study.  These little friends have been in our reading area all year long.  The kids didn't think they were really anything special until...


we read one of his Elephant and Piggy books. The kids have really enjoyed listening to and reading his Elephant and Piggy books.  They have been very inspired by him in Writer's Workshop and many Elephant and Piggy stories have been written by them.  They decided that they wanted to turn our dramatic play area into an Elephant and Piggy Workshop where they could read and write stories about them!  Now these stuffed animals are extra special to them! Here is our finished area!


They made a sign:



This area has been very popular! A lot of reading and writing skills are being practiced here! I am sure as we read his pigeon and Knuffle Bunny books, they will be inspired to write stories about them in this area also!




We brought out our collaborative canvas again!  It just didn't seem finished yet!  I poured some paint on it and the kids used large craft sticks to scrape the paint across the canvas.  They loved this process!



I think next we will start adding some texture and three dimensional aspects to it!

Here is a clue as to what we are going to discover next!  It fits in this box!


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I had noticed an interest in ocean creatures, but not enough for it to be a large scale inquiry so I thought it would be perfect for this last week before spring break!  I set out some creatures and items from the ocean to look closer, explore, wonder and document what they notice.








Here is some of the writing that happened in this area!



I also put together some small world play in the sand so that they could create stories with-in their play! Small World Play has been a favorite area for this group!


Here is another opportunity to come up with ocean stories in our library area:


I set out some beach colors on one side of the easel and ocean colors on the other side and the kids collaboratively worked on the background for a small mural as our mini project.


I left the colors after the background was finished so the kids could paint ocean inspired paintings.



I set out books about ocean creatures and the kids who were interested could read about them and then pick one to paint and label for our mural.







Here is our finished mural:


Here are a few other experiences going on in our room.  In our literacy area, I put out a couple new ways to practice sight words:

Here a partner hides the puff ball under a shell.  Their partner turns over a shell.  If the puff ball isn't there, they can leave it turned over if they can read the word.  Their partner can help them.  They keep turning over shells and reading the words until they find the puff ball. Then it is their turn to hide it.


The next one is for them to use the sight word rings, or get their data folders to practice words they haven't mastered yet by making them with play dough.


I switched out our colored clay with all white clay.  I was amazed at the difference in their sculptures!  I am not sure why, but without the colors, their sculptures have become amazing!  I can't believe the detail they are adding to their sculptures.  They are more focussed here also. They will work for days on creating clay stories here and then write them down for story workshop.  I did not see this focus and detail when they used different colors!




We have started clearing our garden to get it ready for planting after spring break!  They want to plant something we can eat and some flowers.  They are very excited to get started!


They are also noticing that gardening is very hard work but they love it!  They are pulling out weeds and making sure they get the roots as we talked about why we need to make sure none grow in our garden.  We have to really dig in to get the roots out!


That is all until our next inquiry!  I hope everyone has an amazing spring break!
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I have had a really hard time figuring out a common interest for a large scale inquiry and project with this group.  We have had a lot of small group interests in sound, animals, etc. but no topic that the whole class loved together as a whole...or so I thought.

I knew that Chinese New Year was coming up so I thought to put out some invitations to explore the Chinese New Year, Chinese culture and China since they seemed to enjoy our Holidays Around the World Inquiry. As I was looking for ideas, there were a lot activities relating to the dragon and dragon dances.  All of the sudden, it hit me.  Ever since the beginning of the year, these kids have been trying to make dragons at our maker's space.  Also, every time a dragon is mentioned in a story, they would all get very excited.  I wondered, so I looked up their year on the Chinese Zodiac and guess which year all but one of my little friends was born in? The Year of the Dragon! I started coming up with a plan! Below shows how I began the process.  I added many more ideas to it later.


I started out by showing them a video of a dragon dance.  They were mesmerized!  I also showed them a video about the legend of Nian and the Chinese New Year and how they were all connected.  Their interest grew.  They wanted to make a village, create drums to scare Nian away, create a dragon... they had come up with so many ideas!

Grabbing onto this interest, I started out with some invitations for them to explore Chinese writing.



I put some black and gold paint with red paper for some process art using these traditional colors.  I added some Chinese characters we learned how to read if they wanted to use them in their art.


They also saw a video with some Chinese Fan Dancing.  They wrote a plan and then followed it to create their own fans.


We had some very beautiful fan dances! They collaborated and came up with their own choreography! We put on some traditional Chinese music and performed some very beautiful fan dances for our class. 


I set out some invitations to explore dragons and what they look like using different art materials. Here they used paint and Sharpies to show what they noticed about dragons and then wrote a sentence about the dragon they painted.



They could create sculptures using plasticine clay (great for creativity and fine motor skills):



They could use the materials below to create (play) and then write a story about dragons:





In math, they explored symmetry by creating "squish-painting" dragons. They had to add details to the paint and make sure they kept it symmetrical.


We compared and contrasted dragons and dinosaurs and discussed what mythical creatures were:



But most of all, they wanted to create a Dragon Lair and a dragon to do the dragon dance.  We came up with a list of what we needed. 


The kids crumbled up brown paper so that it would look like rocky cave walls and I hung it up in our dramatic play area. The kids then glued sparkles all over the wall since dragons love treasure and sparkly things (just like they do)!




We made some signs to warn people of the dragon and added some "diamonds," "rubies," and "gold!"!




Of course we needed some dragon eggs for the nest! Dragons use trees to build nests!




Now that the dragon's home was done, we needed the dragon!  I collected some boxes, bottles, fruit cups and scrap paper and the kids went to work!



They painted some water bottles with acrylic paint and I cut them and hot glued them where they told me to put them.


Now they were ready to play and create stories in this area!


I had bought some scarves and a rainbow ribbon to use as open ended materials for dramatic play.  They felt they would make perfect dragon wings!



They wanted to present a dragon dance for other classes so we added a body.


The kids wrote 6 page stories about dragons.  They worked very hard on these knowing that they were going to be reading them to kids from other classes!



They practiced reading them to friends.




They created clay dragons to show the other classes what they noticed about how dragons look.





Our parade was a reenactment of the villagers trying to scare the dragon monster Nian out of their village. They made monkey drums because the dragon is afraid of loud noises.  


Some fan dancers were going to dance using their red fans since the dragon is afraid of the color red.  We chose a dragon leader to lead the dragon our of the village back to its lair with our rainbow ribbon. 


This video of one of our parades is the CUTEST!


After the parade, the kids read their books and shared their projects! The other classes loved it!  


The kids were so proud of all that they did.  You could tell that they felt very accomplished and that they did something special by sharing it! It is amazing how purposeful everything becomes when they know they are going to present what they have created!

This was such a wonderful inquiry to encourage creative thinking (which is such an important skill for them to have) in art, story-telling and writing! The monkey drums have started a HUGE interest in sound, instruments and rhythm!  That will be our next large scale inquiry which we will start after Spring Break!
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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.


I am also using one of their favorite toys to practice the concept of adding and introducing the concept of subtraction!  They are loving this game! I got the template from teachwithlaughter.blogspot.com/2014/02/building-block-fun.html?m=1.


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!
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