We have been having learning all about insects and we are so fortunate to have Mrs. Riddle on the farm to show us how insects help plants and flowers grow in our gardens. Of course the most exciting of these is the honey bee. The last time we visited the bees they were just starting to come out of the hive. Now that they temperatures have been consistently warm we could see all the work they have been doing. Mrs. Riddle gave us some beeswax to pass around and we could get a closer look at the hexagon shape and where the baby bees are. She showed some bees that were bring pollen to the hive to feed the babies and the girls remembered the pollen basket on a honey bee.
Back in the classroom we read The Honey Bee and the Robber by Eric Carl and played a letter matching game and the girls brought "pollen" to feed the babies in the hive.
More Insect Fun
We continue to have interest in all things insect. We are playing with all kinds of bugs in the classroom. Making toy bugs crawl through paint and even having fun painting with fly swatters too.
We have been reading non-fiction books about various insects and pairing them with a fictional story staring the insect. The girls really enjoy this and bring what they are learning into their play-creating their own stories. The girls are beginning to tell me which book is real and which is make-believe. This is still a difficult concept, but we are just starting the conversation.
We are taking our "scientist's sketch books" outside to find insects we can draw.
Our Fairies Found Friends
The girls were happy to see that the fairies and their stories have gone back up on the wall and that there are even more joining us. The other Little Hive class came up with stories of their own and the girls were curious to hear about their adventures. A couple of cool rainy days gave us just enough time to meet as a large group in the hallway to listen to all the stories. These big girls were so proud to stand in front of the group as we read their story to the group. They also did a great job listening to all of their friends' stories. It is so exciting to see how mature and ready for preschool they are:)
With fear and disgust turning into curiosity and delight the girls are becoming little entomologists learning all kinds of interesting facts about bugs. The girls had questions about what they were all referring to as the butterfly in our habitat hanging at the doorway. We went to the library to do a little research. First we read a book to find out what makes something a butterfly. We learned that they have antennae on their heads to feel flowers. Their antennae have knobs at the top. Next we read a section of a book that compared moths to butterflies. We learned that moths fly during the night and butterflies by day. We noticed that our moth moves from place to place but we never see it move while we are at school. We learned that butterflies rest with their wings closed and moths with their wings open. We also learned that moths have feathery antennae and sure enough the girls concluded that this was no butterfly. We took a picture walk through another book that had many varieties of moths and butterflies. The girls all shouted that they saw one that matched ours, a luna moth.
Later on the playground the girls were finding all kinds of bugs and their curiosity surpassed their fear. We decided to take pictures of every new type we found and are charting them in the classroom. the girls are trying to replicate them using sticks, rocks and beads.
I introduced the girls to Flight of the Bumblebee by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. We listened to the various instruments being played and tried to single out ones we recognized. We all agreed that it sounded just like bumblebees. We used the music to play a game of pass the bumblebee (Hot Potato). The friends that were "stung" when the music turned off went to the honey pot and pretended to have a popsicle. It came down to one winner and the girls did a great job congratulating that friend. We don't often have winners in our games, but I think its good to practice good sportsmanship early. In dramatic play we are strengthening fine motor skills by using clothes pins to pick up "pollen" and take it to our hive.
At the sensory table the girls are sorting bugs by color with tweezers building early math skills and strengthening muscles in their fingers. We are also building our math knowledge by making insects with shape pattern mats. The girls are using insects and play doh to make impressions in the dough. They are inspecting closely, counting legs, antennae and wings.
A New Visitor in the Frog Aquarium
During carpool on Thursday morning one of the jk teachers spotted a frog in the grass. I quickly grabbed the empty tank and my bravery and went out to catch it. We think its a giant bull frog, but we'll have to do our research. For the record, we let our toads and frog go on the farm last week. I'm proud to report we kept them alive all year.
A conversation that started with girls observing our tadpoles and continued in our circle led to all things that come out of eggs and morphed into questions about insects and spiders.
Will the tadpoles turn into mice?-teacher
Maybe they're going to be frogs.
Maybe they'll be butterflies.
Maybe they'll be ice frogs.
Did you know they started out in an egg?-teacher
A baby chicken comes out of an egg!
And a fish!
And an alligator!
And a caterpillar!
Do you think this (pointing to unidentified insect in butterfly habitat) was once a caterpillar?-teacher
Do you think its a butterfly?
Yes, its camouflaged.
How do we know? Is there anything else that looks like a butterfly?-teacher
They don't have legs.
They have wings.
They can fly!
Like an airplane.
Like a helicopter.
Well, it looks like a butterfly to me.
I wonder what makes a butterfly a butterfly.-teacher
A bee is a bug.
A wasp is a bug.
Wasps have long bodies like a butterfly.-teacher
They sting you!
do butterflies sting?-teacher
So that is something that is different.
What is an insect?-teacher
They have six legs.
What about a spider?-teacher
What about a lady bug?
They have stinky smells.
A stink bug maybe?-teacher
They are red with black spots.
They are colorful like a butterfly.
Yes, that is something that is alike!-teacher
Frogs have long tongues and they eat the insects.
Yes, many things eat insects. what do you think an anteater eats?-teacher
Some people eat bugs too!-teacher
What else do we wonder?
There are bees too.
I wonder how many different types live on the Hutchison farm. And I wonder how many live in our classroom.-teacher
I wonder do they have belly buttons?
That is an interesting question.
What did you have for breakfast today. (One friend asks another)
My belly button wants a grilled cheese. (Holding dress up to make belly button talk)
Lots and lots of laughter ensues.
We take the long way to gym class to see if we can find any insects and what they might be having for breakfast.
Early in the week we found a leafy looking insect on our classroom door. We brought it inside to take a closer look. The girls are convinced it is a butterfly, but I think it is a moth of some sort. I wonder if we will discover the difference in their questioning and some research. Soon, their fairies turned into butterflies, I'm waiting to see how this will change their stories. I brought out some insects and spider toys to play with as they seem very excited and interested in bugs.
Upon getting a closer look, we noticed that its wings looked damaged and was maybe sick. We wondered if the big rainstorm the day before could have damaged its wing or if another animal did it. The girls wanted to know how we could fix it. We started by giving it an orange from our snack tray so it would have some food.
The girls have been practicing writing their names using markers to draw the lines always starting at the top of each letter. They have been playing games matching upper and lower case letters.
We've had fun this week celebrating Easter and Passover. We went on an egg hunt and found letter stickers inside. The girls had to match their letter stickers to the correct letter.
We learned about Passover and enjoyed a special snack of matzah.
We had some Easter fun with Ms. Parsons as well. The girls used clips to hunt "eggs", made themselves into scrambled, hard boiled and sunny side up eggs and an omelet in a fun game then did the bunny hop.
The girls enjoy fairy magic stories so much that we thought we needed our own fairy wands for making our own magic in the classroom. We collected just the right sticks outside to give us plenty of magic, We brought them in the classroom to fancy up with color, wire and beads. We have been using them to write letters, numbers and our names in fairy dust.
We are also learning to recognize letters, names and numbers in other ways. The girls love painting watercolor paper to make magical messages appear and finding letters all over the class to make them disappear.
Loud Geese on the Pond
On our walks outside the girls have noticed that the geese have been very loud lately. We warned the girls not to get to close, especially this time of year because they are nesting. We talked about eggs in their nest and asked what they thought would come out.
"A baby egg."
"A baby goose."
This led us to a book about a bird family that that come home to their nest to find an especially large egg. Soon it is clear that this new baby is not a bird, but an alligator. We talked about what else might come out of an egg.
"Did you know our tadpoles came out of eggs?"-teacher
"They will grow legs!"
"Then they'll hop out of the bowl!"
"We can take them to live outside."-teacher
"That will be far away-at a farm."
"Or we can bring them to our Hutchison pond."-teacher
I am curious to see if they will have any questions about the frog's life cycle or animals that come out of eggs.
Fun in the Gym
The girls are making observations about the changing season. We asked how they know spring is here.
The sun...the sun is yellow.
We wear summer dresses.
The snow has melted.
There was snow at my house. Its gone.
The flowers start to bloom.
We go outside and play.
We didn't say anything about the trees.
The trees start to flower, don't they.-teacher
We have brought some of these signs of spring into our classroom. We have flowering branches, flowers, tadpoles and a found nest. I wonder what questions they will have about everything growing outside.
Letters to Colombia
We are so excited that senora Chelsoi has joined our conversation about letter writing and mail. She showed us a map and pointed out Colombia, where she is from and her brother still loves. We are going to mail him a letter to see how long it will take all the way to Colombia.
We practice counting with one to one correspondence everyday with the girls. This concept that when counting each new object represents one more takes much practice and often an entire school year for children to master. As the girls are building a stronger number sense we have been able to play number games and tell some number stories. We have also been talking about how we use numbers everyday. The girls enjoy matching the correct amount of objects with pictures and love when I "try to trick them" by asking them to think about how many are missing from a group.
While outside playing over the weekend the McDonnell girls scooped up some tadpoles from our pond. We brought them into the class to share with the little hive. I let the girls take a look and make observations before letting them in on what they were looking.
I see a spider!
Hey, look at that one. Look! He's moving! Get back here!
Are they frogs? What are they?
They're swimming in the water! My mom calls them worms. I like these.
They bump each other. He's scared of us. We can't touch them. Because they could get sick.
They look like mouses.
My mom calls them food.
It doesn't really look like a frog. How do you know?-teacher
It gets legs and jumps out of the water! I saw it on Caillou!
A Visit from the Mail Carrier
We are so fortunate to have had a visit from a real Post Officer. Salena's father took some time to speak with our class about his job and the girls were able to ask him a few questions. We made predictions about how long it would take our letter to return to our class. We counted days on our calendar to see how long and were all very surprised with the speed of our local post office!
Little Hive Visits the Hutchison Bees
On Wednesday Mrs. Riddle opened up the hive for us to get a closer look at everything going on inside. She showed us how to calm the bees by fanning smoke on them. The girls like that the smoke made them eat honey and then get sleepy. We spotted a beetle in the hive and learned that the bees will put it in jail and feed it rather than kill it. The girls also enjoyed learning that the bees communicate using smells. If they are scared they make a banana smell and become agitated, but if they are happy they make a lemon smell which reminded us of lemonade.
Mrs. Riddle stopped by our classroom to tell the girls she heard something making a peeping noise while she was digging in one of the garden bed on the farm. She looked closer and saw a toad, she quickly snapped a photo and brought it in to show the girls. We have been visiting the farm to look for them. We still have not had any luck, but we did start noticing signs of spring all over. The girls got to chat with Mrs. Riddle about what is growing on the farm this time of year. And she showed them the cilantro, garlic and blueberry bushes. We even noticed a big bumble bee on the fence. I heard one friend tell another friend that honey comes out of the bee's bottom which really made them giggle. Mrs. Riddle invited the girls for a honeybee chat so we can learn more about them and look inside the hive. We are really looking forward to a nice warm day to open up the hives and chat with Mrs. Riddle about honey bees.
This week the girls were curious out the stamps they were making. Mrs. Rainer show the girls examples of stamps. They noticed many different designs used on stamps and set out some examples of various stamp collections at the writing table. The girls continue to enjoy making stamps of their own. We are looking forward to a visit from a mail carrier next week. I wonder what the girls will want her to take to the post office.
It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression. - Albert Einstein
The girls are growing so much in their ability to control tools and materials to create their artwork. We have started a gallery wall in our classroom where the girls can have their work hung before going home in their school bags. We are give them time to show their work to the class and allow them to tell their friends about the process they used and about the work itself. We are also opening up the discussion to their peers to comment on the work. So far, its been very well received and the girls are very proud of their creations.
Nancy McDonnell and Faye Rainer have a combined 18 years of early childhood experience. Nancy is the mother of three Hutchison Honey Bees and Faye is the mother of a future Honey Bee.