On our final day of school we had an opportunity to walk around campus and serendipitously wrap up so many of our conversations. Our first destination was the farm to measure the growth of our sunflowers. We were blown away with the amount of growth since our last visit. We measured the tallest at 30" and after measuring Annie decided that it was almost as tall as her.
Our next stop was the construction site which the girls were so delighted to see has drastically changed. They had so many questions and we were very fortunate to be able to locate the building foreman and interview him about what has happened inside.
On our walk back we talked about how the flowers have grown the building has grown and just how much all of the children have grown. The timing could not have been more perfect because just as I was telling the girls how big they are now, a gaggle of geese with goslings crossed our path. The girls all thought the goslings have gotten so big. "Look how big they are now!" One girl shouted. I could not agree more; look how big they are now. I have so enjoyed watching your girls learn and grow this year. I will miss all of their smiling faces, but look forward to hearing about all of their future accomplishments. Thank you all for a great year.
A group of girls were coloring with chalk on the playground. I asked one friend what they were making and she replied, "that's me!" I asked her to lay down and I used the chalk to trace her body. Soon all the girls joined in and wanted to be traced too. The girls had fun filling in their shapes with eyes and coloring their clothes. I decided to expand upon this by talking more about ourselves and how we look.
We continue to talk about drawing lines and how the lines come together to make shapes and we can put those shapes together to make all kinds of different pictures. Thinking about it this way really helps expand upon their pre-reading and writing skills as well as pre-literacy skills. We draw lines to represent different objects or letters. The lines or letters come together to make different shapes or words etc. So, I printed out pictures of each student's face and let them look for shapes and lines in their own face. The girls looked in the mirror while doing the activity to decide what colors to use for the different shapes they found.
We are also talking about the letters in our names and our friends names. We are encouraging them to write or find the letters in their names. We are exploring with the letters in different ways. Here we wrote the girls' names in glue and placed some tin foil art work over it and let them feel the letters while they viewed their names appear through the foil. This helped them explore the letters both visual and tactile senses.
The girls have also been putting their names together with picture puzzles. This has been a fun lesson in learning that the letters of their name have to be in the right order to get the pictures just right.
Leap Frog Fun
Something I absolutely love about this age group is watching them begin to develop more elaborate play especially when it starts to become more organized. In the gym we had some extra time to play before another class came in and Mrs. Parsons let us use her hula hoops. Soon Lily started lining them up and jumping from one hoop to the next. I prompted some imaginative play by suggesting that she looked like a frog jumping on lily pads. That was enough to get a few more girls involved and lining up their hoops as well. Quickly a game was born that the girls made their own rules for. When they started bumping into each other they decided that you could only jump in one direction and once they jumped off the last lily pad they dove into the water and swam to the other side. The whole class began to play and kept themselves organized until they were out of breath from all the jumping and swimming. This type of cooperative play is such a great development from the parallel I saw at the beginning of the year.
Fairy counting 1,2,3
We continue to see evidence during play of the girls understanding of one-to-one correspondence when counting. Here Alexis and Manha were lining up fairies to count and did not want me to take a picture until they counted as high as they could go. They asked me to take it at 17, but continued on after 20.
Some of the girls are showing curiosity in letters and numbers and we have been increasing their exposure in the classroom. We have been working on letter/number recognition, rote counting and one to one correspondence. The girls love to take attendance and count their friends and figure out if anyone is missing. We play number and letter matching games as well, but only as they show interest it is certainly not a requirement.
A few of our friends were still convinced that we have octopi, mermaids and jelly fish in our pond. So we took to the smart board to look up fresh water pond life. We printed out some pictures of red slider turtles, blue gill catfish and frogs and made a pond in the block center. With some added goggles they are able to dive under water to explore.
The great Artist Henri Matisse
The girls love to cut and cut and cut. We read a book about Henri Matisse who discovered that he enjoyed cutting his paintings and making collage. So we have been giving the girls many different materials to paint with, as usual, and will let them cut shapes like Matisse to make collage work of their own.
Happy Mother's Day
The girls enjoyed working on Mother's Day gifts for you and we read books about moms. They enjoyed drawing pictures of their moms and telling us what makes you special.
We continue to explore the pond ecosystem. We have been learning some pretty great words and the children have picked up on many of them. One friend called out that she was the "Susie" and her "ducklings" had to follow her in line. We have read stories about muskrats, beavers, frogs/toads, ducks and all sorts of pond life. We have not found evidence of mermaids or jelly fish in the pond much to Manha's disappointment.
The girls have been very into counting and starting to grasp one to one correspondence when doing so. They have been counting the rocks as they line them up around our classroom pond. Counting petals on flowers and most popular items to count, of course, have been the goslings.
The girls get so creative with stories about the pond in the block center. They are showing how much they are learning and what they are most curious about. They have built beaver dams and love to talk about which pond animals eat the other ones! Predator and prey has been a popular story! They also love learning the names for pond babies. I told the girls a story about my house that I live in the woods on a pond and my girls get to go out and catch toads before school if they get ready on time. We were so lucky to get to bring one of the toads to visit our classroom. We took a close look at it and discussed how it compares and contrasts with a frog. They noticed how bumpy the toad's skin is and that it was brown, not green. Later we let the frog go free to meet some new friends at the Hutchison pond. The girls all wanted to practice hopping like toads that day.
In Other News...
While looking out the window, Miriam saw a large truck. "What is that?" She asked excitedly. To everyone's delight it was a cement mixer. We decided to leave early for gym class and check it out. We got to see the whole process of the drum spinning, the workers filling wheelbarrows and spreading it onto the site. This was by far the most exciting thing that has happened to us this week. The men gave us quick a lesson in how to make cement and turn it into a sidewalk. At the end of the week we got to check out the finished product and find out if it had hardened into a sidewalk like they said it would.
The Little Artists at Work
We did a little art experiment with the girls. We collected some interesting bits of nature with the girls and let them choose which things they thought would make nice prints. After painting wet fabric we let the girls arrange their collected nature onto the fabric set out in the sun and let the heat do its work. Some of our nature prints turned out pretty well.
Fun in the Gym
The girls have really enjoyed movement with Mrs. Parsons this week. She has been teaching yoga and they have just loved it.
I just love to set out materials and let the girls freely explore. We have them finger paints and different tools to use with them (other than their fingers). They love the tactile experience as well as stimulating their senses of sight and smell. It allows them to use their imagination and create. Its also emotionally soothing while allowing them to strengthen fine motor skills.
More Fun on the Farm
The girls really enjoyed showing you what they have been working on out on the Farm. I hope the seeds they planted with you will grow into giant sunflowers they can enjoy all summer.
A Home for Our Fairies
The girls have loved playing with our fairy figures at the light and mirror tables. They get really creative and have been creating beautiful forest scenes to set the stage for their stories. They have named the corner "Pixie Hollow" and we decided that the fairies needed a home. We worked clay together for try to get the shape of a hollowed out log. we will paint it next week before putting it into our Pixie Hollow. I wonder what stories they will come up with then and how much more elaborate they become.
The girls continue to create interesting stories and the block center is such a busy place. A few girls set up an airport runway and look out tower. The problem was there was only one airplane in our vehicle basket. The girls have been sharpening their negotiating and problem solving skills. After an unsuccessful attempt to convince a friend to give up the airplane a second was built out of leggos and play continued peacefully.
Exciting Life on the Hutchison Pond
The girls have continued to talk about the goslings and are excited about learning more about pond life after reading the book, In The Small, Small Pond by Denise Flemming. We asked each girl what they wanted to learn about the pond or what they wondered about it.
Naomi- I wonder if foxes live there.
Manha-Jellyfish and octopus live there.
Avery-Geese come from the pond.
Cecilia-Polka-dots in a can.
Harlem-I wonder if the geese pop up from the water and look for food in the trash. Do mermaids try to take their food?
Riley-Is there sea weed in there?
Annie-I wonder about the ducks!
We went out to get a closer look and talked about the shape and color of the Hutchison pond. While out there we observed so many things going on. A fish jumped and the girls were convinced it was a mermaid. I got closer to take a picture so we might try to get some evidence...only fish this time but who knows what we may find in the future. We saw a goose sitting on a nest. We heard more geese honking, protecting their babies. We also took a water sample to get a closer look. We decided it was a peaceful place, but there is so much going on!
The girls have enjoyed investigating seeds and plants. And creating observational drawings of what they see. We continue to view great works of art by Vincent Van Gogh particularly his sunflowers. We took a few days to create sunflowers of our own and explored painting with different tools. We used bubble wrap mittens to get a seed like texture for our flower centers and forks to make petals.
St. Jude Trike-A-Thon
Igloo Construction, Yay!!
The day finally arrived, we collected enough milk jugs to construct our igloo. Considering our past conversations about building and construction during visits to the work site and building our own block tower architectural masterpieces in the classroom we were beyond ready to put on our engineer and architect hats! We wanted the girls to be involved in the construction process as much as possible considering the use of hot glue that was a bit limited, so we called in reinforcements from the upper school. The girls enjoyed helping carry milk jugs to the site, doing some counting and helping build the plans by drawing igloos of their own.
Spring Has Most Certainly Arrived!
We have been enjoying seeing the season change and have loved observing nature. The girls watch their seeds grow with such excitement. Their glove gardens will be coming home in their school bags today and you can help the girls put them in the dirt before they completely break out of the gloves! We have been so excited about the new babies on campus, The baby geese visited our window and the girls have been looking for them ever since.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
We read the whimsical book, In My Garden by Kevin Henkes and the girls were talking about what they would grow in their own gardens. I hope you enjoy the video of their responses.
We're going on a nature hunt!
The girls have been so excited to see some growth in our sunflowers se we have been taking many walks to the farm. After reading the book, Nature Walk by Douglas Florian we thought it would be fun to go on a scavenger hunt and try to check off everything on our list on the way to the farm. We put on our "binoculars" and looked high and low. We discussed what nature is and the difference between man made and natural. We decided the rocks in front of school, while natural, were placed there by people. If you would like a copy of the scavenger hunt to do one of your own the link is here: http://nowoodenspoons.blogspot.com/search?q=nature+scavenger+hunt
The girls were delighted to come in and see how much the grass grew over the weekend. It was so big we decided to measure it. It was 12 inches tall and we told the girls that it meant that it grew 2 inches per day over the long weekend! It was so long we decided it needed to be trimmed, so we let the girls cut it with scissors.
We have taken our conversation about seeds and expanded to gardens and gardeners. The girls had much to say:
A garden is a place with a lot of dirt so you have to wear gloves when you are gardening.
A garden is grass and flowers.
A garden needs to plant seeds under the ground and then it grows big!
It has flowers and seeds.
The seeds grow and you pick the seeds.
It has plants and you water them. I water my plants!
I put the water in the garden!
Seeds will grow!
We read the book, sunflower House by Eve Bunting and took a walk to the farm to plant a sunflower house of our own.
Happy Birthday, Vincent VanGogh
The girls are so excited about their sunflowers. They are learning so much because they are so excited about the topic of conversation. They are quick to name all the parts of a plant and have been busy painting and drawing sunflowers. We talked about a great artist named, Vincent who like to paint sunflowers and read the book, vanGogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt
This is how the Beans Will Grow Early In the Morning
We have had so much fun talking about the surprise inside each seed. I asked the girls what a seed needs to grow and got some great replies.
We began planting our own gardens in a glove. We placed seeds and cotton balls soaked in water inside the fingers of a glove and hung them in the window. We are hoping to get a closer look at the surprise that comes out of each seed. when they start growing the girls can take them home and plant the seeds in soil to watch them grow.
The big topic of conversation upon returning to school has been all the rain.
The Storm knocked over the bird food!-Miriam
The storm was scary!-Cecilia
It crashed through my window!-Alexis
It was bad.-Naomi
We decided to hang a new bird feeder that will not get knocked down. The girls helped fill the feeder with bird seed. we had a long conversation about the best place to put the feeder.
We need to put it over there on the window.-Alexis
But look, this is different, it has a loop not a suction cup.-Teacher
How about right there on the ground.-Riley
Well, we have to think about where the birds can fly, but the squirrels cannot get it.-Teacher
Lets hang it up!
Ok, should I put it on a branch?
Hmm, these vines are not strong enough. Can we find something in the materials center to hang it from?
We headed into the Materials Center and the girls started handing me everything from sponges to a knitting needle. we thought the knitting needle looked like our best bet and we set out to try to hang it again. We discussed how we might balance it on the needle between two posts on the arbor. We tried to get the girls to come up with a plan for how we could get all the way up there.
You just have to reach really high up there.-Riley
just go up there and hang it.
You need three steps-one, two, three.-Annie
That would be great. How about a ladder?
the window seat is a favorite place in the classroom where the girls like to ponder the world outside. We read the book, Waiting by Kevin Henkes. The book is about some toy friends in a room that anxiously for changing seasons and other exciting things as they look out the window. The girls talked about the damage from the storm and noticed not only the downed bird feeder, but also a nest. We brought the nest in to get a closer look and the girls enjoyed comparing and contrasting with the other nests in our room.
While outside we noticed the storm knocked down the nest we had been watching. There were no eggs inside so we decided to bring the nest in and get a closer look. We noticed many similarities and differences between this nest and the nests in our room.
It's got mud.-Alexis
Let's look closely, are those sticks? Or is it dried grass? Our old nest is made of sticks and Riley's nest is made mostly of grass.
It does look like this nest is made of tall grass and lots of mud.
Spring is Here, Spring is Here How do You think We Know?
The girls have been very observant of the changing season. We have been noticing signs of spring all around campus. We have found flowers on trees, green grass, moss warmer temperatures and lots of rain. We have also found sunny days to play outside exploring with our shadows, take spring walks to the construction site and looking for nests.
How do you know spring is here?
The leaves are green.-Riley
The flowers grow.-Alexis
I jump in the puddles.
We wear an Easter dress.-Harlem
Fairies inspiring creative block and loose parts play
Adding some fairy figurines to the light tables has brought on some great stories. Here Riley sorted by color and lined them up. She said they were getting ready to play hide and seek. This idea quickly brought over a few friends and they acted the story out in very high pitched fairy voices. Their creativity is inspiring me to add more loose parts to see what they come up with to make a nest.
Meet Mrs. McDonnell & Mrs. Bowman
Mrs. McDonnell recently moved to the south from Chicago and lives on a farm in Mississippi. She has been teaching for 13 years and is a parent to three Hutchison honeybees.