Monday, 29 October 2012

Pumpkin Inquiry PART 1

Our pumpkin inquiry began like this :

We just started with a bunch of pumpkins and gourds of different shapes and sizes. We set them out with some magnifying glasses and some paper and writing tools in hopes that they would document what they were seeing.

Immediately we had children using the magnifying glasses and exclaiming "whoa-the pumpkins are HUGE!"

We also had kids wanting to paint a picture of the pumpkins.

As soon as one of them painted a pumpkin-several others followed.
The conversation also quickly turned to talk of how they could carve them.
One little girl came to me and said she would carve a happy face and I told her the production table had lots of materials that she could design that.
This is what she made:
I thought that it was a fantastic representation of what she wanted her jack-o-lantern to look like.
We also had plenty of opportunity to model vocabulary that can be used when exploring. "It feels like...." "I wonder if...."
The children had lots of conversation about the pumpkins and the inquiry has continued into this week. We picked one of the pumpkins to focus on-and we had them make guesses about how many lines were on the outside, and then we counted them. We had them make guesses about how many seeds are on the inside-and we will count them tomorrow when we carve.
We documented all of our guesses and findings on a chart-which we will display at the center of a Pumpkin Investigation Bulletin Board out in front of our classroom in the hallway!
We had brainstormed at the beginning of our inquiry to see what the kids wanted and thought we could do with our pumpkins. Many ideas were brought to the table including -paint them
                               -count them
                               -feel them
                               -carve them
                               -smell them
                               -make them a hat
Yes. You read that right. Make them a hat. So right off the bat-several hats were made for our pumpkins.
Today to build on this (I hoped!) I added a measuring tape to our table of pumpkins and gourds. We immediately had one little guy come on over and ask : "Is this a measuring rod?"
I explained it was a measuring tape- and he right away told me he wanted to measure the pumpkin from top to bottom! (YAY! SILENT CHEER!!!!) He measured 3 of the pumpkins and read the measuring tape correctly each time. I explained to him that he was measuring in centimetres but that there were other ways we could measure things too. Then another girl came up- and stated that we could measure AROUND the pumpkin as well. She walked away. He measured around the 3 pumpkins. He then pointed to each pumpkin and said "fattest...skinniest...and medium" LOVED being part of such a perfect teachable moment!
Tomorrow-we are carving the pumpkins! Today we provided little cards for each of the children to draw a picture of what they think we should carve our pumpkins like. About 10 of them participated in this and the consensus looks like they want a traditional jack-o-lantern!
I can't wait for them to feel the inside of the pumpkins. We have a couple of kids who are claiming to never have carved before-SO SO exciting!
I'll be back with follow up photos from tomorrows experience if I am still sane.
{We are experiencing the rain of Hurricane Sandy this week. 1 field trip postponed, and looking like 2 more in the works. (All outdoor trips-and the rain is intense.) }
All these indoor recesses are bound to make me batty I'm sure. Would love to hear from anyone with indoor recess suggestions for the kids! We have recess monitors which are responsible grade 8 students, who help out. (I love comments on my blog-but for those of you who don't follow it, I LOVE hearing from you in my facebook inbox! Your messages are always encouraging and full of great ideas!)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Apples as Math!

These were our apples.

We read a few books about apples as part of our literacy and numeracy circles. Then these apples were discussed by our class.

We posed the question "What could we do with them?"

We got many answers. Eat them was at the top of their list. There were also many more great answers!

Count them.
Feel them.
Pattern with them.
Sort them.

All of these things-skills they have learned from play. Imagine that!?

It is during times like these brainstorming periods that I really silently celebrate how effective this program can be!

While the program can be controversial-there is no disputing that it's doing its job when 1 month into school many of our students in both jk and sk are able to sort, pattern, and count -even though they have not been sitting at tables filling in worksheets. Instead-they have been choosing their play centers themselves. Not being forced to sit through math bins, but being allowed the freedom to learn in dramatic play, to learn in sensory. All of these skills can be incorporated into each center-providing them with MANY opportunities to learn. We have a hands on thinking center, where math based activities are available-but the materials available in our room in other centers-allow them to practice and learn new math skills!

So we counted. We patterned. We sorted, and of course. We taste tested!

Sorted and ready for taste testing!
We also painted with the apples! Made apple prints and turned them into:
The kids also decided that they would examine our apples underneath the magnifying table! :) A new tool in our class that they love to use!
The conclusion: "Everything gets bigger in this thing!"

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Do You Feel What I Feel?

You all know how I love fall? I explained why right here!

So it excites me-that our natural surroundings spark such curiosity in the kids! Our playground has a few trees in it. They shed beautiful maple leaves and oak leaves all over the ground. While on duty and during outdoor play I get to witness this provide them with perfect playing conditions! They build piles-and jump in them. There is no sight that screams childhood more than that.

They pretend it is salad and serve it in their restaurants. They throw leaves in the air and watch them fall. They bury themselves in them. It excites them.

They also, bring oodles and oodles of leaves inside. They all want to add to our discovery center. We allow them to. They examine the leaves and write about them in their science journals.

One day last week I set a couple leaves out on our science table and covered it in tinfoil. I taped the tinfoil down, and put paper and pencils at the table. I explained to the kids they could explore and make predictions about what it was.

We had many many good guesses.

The children really used their senses. Some of them walked up-felt and quickly recorded what they believed was hiding under the tinfoil.

Some of them explored deeper.

Letting her fingers discover. Getting a feel for the texture of the leaves.

I loved seeing this happen! This little girl leaned down for a good minute listening so carefully to hear what the mystery items sounded like!!

One of the correct guesses documented!
Some of our other guesses were: cookies, soft paper towel, a button, and rocks.
Their minds work sooooo hard to come to these conclusions! The big reveal was super exciting for them! Some of them cheering when they realized they were right!
We discussed doing this activity more often. They really liked it and it brought some of our kids who aren't typically found in discovery over to see ( and feel) what was going on ! :)
If you have done this type of activity before-what types of things did you have them explore?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Back With Some Changes

Alright. Sorry for the delay. But I am here. With a new blog post.

It took me longer then I ever planned it to but such is life.

My life in kindergarten changed this past week-and it has taken me a few days to grab a hold of my new reality and embrace it.

Embrace it I will.

I have faith things happen for a reason-and although I don't want to ramble on with details I will say I have a new teaching partner. The one I have currently is supplying-but should I become lucky enough-perhaps she will be more permanent.

Back to square 1 on room set up-displays-center materials etc.

Here's some new stuff!

Monday-my first day with my new teaching partner, kids were WILD! Lots of change for them, a new looking room and a new face in the room. Testing. Testing. Testing.

In the midst of what was truly chaos for me at times-We observed a few of our boys acting like animals in the dramatic play area. (serious. animals.) haha More specifically, cats and dogs.

DING DING DING! They are bored of it being a kitchen. Let's change it up.

We asked them what we could put there that animals could belong in, and an animal doctor was top of the list. And so-our Animal Hospital was born.

This is the sign that 2 of our boys designed.

Prior to painting-we discussed what would be important to be on the sign. The boys both agreed that animals should be on it.

This started as a dog. The boy on the left painted the dog and I asked "What did you paint?" He said "A dog" The boy on the right said "Well that looks like a turtle" and the boy on the left responded with "I know it does."
So he changed his mind and is telling his classmates that it is a turtle.
Writing in dramatic play? YES!
Scaredy Squirrel getting some TLC.
Scaredy Squirrel getting some chest compressions! :)
I could have watched them all day long in this center. The creativity that was happening was truly awesome!
The materials that are in the center were mostly thought up by the class. We did some brainstorming and made a list of things they thought an Animal Hospital would need.
We have many more ideas in the works to build on this inquiry.
I will be back sooner next time. I have many things I've photo documented over the past couple of days and intend on sharing them soon!

                   "Change in all things is sweet"


Thursday, 11 October 2012

Fall All Around!

You all know how important I think sensory experiences are right?

Check out our new sensory bin!

It's just a bunch of pasta , some small gourds and pumpkins, some corn, and some silk leaves from the dollar store! Voila!
I wrote each of the uppercase and lowercase letters on the leaves. The kids have been busy finding their name letters and our jolly phonics letters while they are playing in the sensory bin! I also threw a couple blank leaves in to see if they would notice. I was approached by one of our girls who said "This one says nothing. Can I make it say my name?" So she wrote her name on it and threw it back in! :)
The class has been busy discussing the "rough" noodles, and the "hard, smooth" noodles! It's also brought on a few conversations about who has bought pumpkins at their house and who hasn't!
Would love to hear what you guys have got going on in your sensory bins right now? Fall or not!
That's all for me tonight. I cut the heck out of a bunch of laminated goodness tonight-and have some photography stuff to work on still! :) Enjoy!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Thanksgiving Cuteness

Educator friends who are not part of the ELK program-you probably do Thanksgiving activities. (American readers-I am way ahead of you-as we celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada much earlier then you-and don't get the awesomeness that is Black Friday either :( ) Educator friends who ARE a part of the ELK program-there was probably discussion between you and your teaching partner as to whether or not you were "supposed" to learn about Thanksgiving in your class.

The consensus I have gathered through a facebook group for Ontario ELK educators is---the children will be interested in this if it is introduced to them-and some of them will talk about it no matter what.

With that all being said-we decided to go for the gusto! We started the Thanksgiving talk by reading a Thanksgiving book in our morning circle.

The book we read was called "The Great Turkey Race" written by Steve Metzger. It seemed a bit wordy at first and I thought "no way in the world are our wigglers going to sit for more then 2 pages of this book". Boy, did I prove myself wrong.

I tried to give each turkey a different voice, and I asked them to predict what was going to happen. They all got into it. Giggling, answering my questions, and making predictions. SUCCESS!

The next day I read the next book by Steve Metzger "The Amazing Turkey Rescue". Exact same response. It got kids talking all about Thanksgiving.

The teacher I work alongside-had the idea to have a community circle where we discussed what we were thankful for. :) I am finding the community circles so wonderful for providing them with vocabulary. They got to practice using the phrase "I am thankful for...."

On Thursday we were fortunate enough to have some scheduled time with our Reading Buddies. We took advantage of this. Their reading buddies helped them create a turkey.
I love this picture because you can see them working as a team with their reading buddy-and I think this photo illustrates how helpful that reading buddy is! Trying to teach him how to cut!

 Seriously adorable idea brought to you again by my teaching partner. This is the adorableness it produced:

I love these 3 pictures. It illustrates that even though this was a teacher planned activity-there was plenty of room for interpretation. Each of them looked differently then the others. The body of the turkey is made from the child's traced feet (with shoes on in our case). The feathers-we precut some and the kids had to cut some. The eyes were chosen by them from a googly eye bucket. This is the poem that was attached:
I take ZERO credit in writing that cute little poem. But I also can't say who did as I am not too sure!
The Thanksgiving books really opened up for us a window to teach these children about this holiday!
They made food in the playdough center that they could take to Thanksgiving dinner (their idea!), and the donating of the food to the food bank-really came at a great time to wrap it up! :)
Happy Thanksgiving Canadian Readers! I hope you had a seriously blessed holiday! I'm off to enjoy an Oktoberfest Parade with my family and some favorite friends! :)
Gobble Gobble

Friday, 5 October 2012

To Jingle or Not to Jingle?

To Jingle or not to jingle? That was kind of the question.

With the new kindergarten program-we are keeping things pretty child guided in our class. We had a lot of conversations and thoughts on whether or not to incorporate Jolly Phonics into our program, and we decided that we thought there needed to be a balance. We want there to be a lot of child directed opportunities, but think it is important to teach the kids the letter sounds. With Jolly Phonics we can make it really interactive so it fits well with the program suggestions.

So this week-we had a short week with there being Fair Day and tomorrow a Professional Development day. We decided this would be the week we started our Jolly Jingles. It's basically teaching the song for 'S' to the kids, and the action that goes with the song. Then we have a very open conversation about 'S' words.

Then we move along to more good stuff.

The SCENTED playdough. (s word) . We practiced forming the S letter with the playdough. I questioned in my own mind how this would go over, but luckily it flew! The kids were eager to come to Graphic Communication and try their hand at forming the letter 'S'.

I love playdough activities because of how good it is for fine motor development. As I began implementing this activity-I understood how beneficial it was based solely on the fact that most of the children who chose to play with this center didn't know how to roll playdough out. It was great to see them developing this ability, and turning it into the letter S. It gave them a real sense of accomplishment when I cheered for them.
Not everyone would agree with the implementation of Jolly Phonics in an ELK classroom, but we find it works for us this far. It's a short block of time that it is done in-and the choice to do the follow up activities (playdough formation) is theirs. We do ask them all to try-but if it's something they aren't interested in-we don't keep them.
So. We decided to jingle.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Pumpkin Spice Playdough-Starbucks Inspired.

Since I have been in the childcare field for several years, I am no stranger to homemade playdough.

You get kind of tired of putting out the money for the playdough brand stuff after a while-especially when you see how many different ways there are to make the stuff your self. Maybe I stand alone. But I love making playdough.

I have not always felt this way.

Early in my playdough making days-I had alot of epic fails. I had one batch that remained a gooey liquid no matter how much I stirred it. I've also made playdough to go on to think it's perfect and 3 days later it has gone moldy, or slimy.

I have however narrowed down my favorite recipe to a few. I use them on rotation but they are mostly the same.

We are talking a lot about our senses in our class right now. How things feel. How they sound, etc. I wanted to give the kids something to smell.

While enjoying my pumpkin spice latte the other day at starbucks, it dawned on me to make a fall scented playdough. The kids love the playdough center, why not give them something wonderful to smell while there? Starbucks gets my creative juices flowing.

So I took the go-to playdough recipe, and I added some pumpkin spices, and orange food colouring.

It's going to get eaten. I just know it.


1 cup of flour
1/2 cup of salt
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
food colouring (whatever colour you are wanting)

Then I added 1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spices

Put this all together in a pot on the stove-turn it on medium heat and stir CONSTANTLY until it forms a ball. Then scrape it all out onto a cutting board and knead it with your hands until it is soft with no lumps.

DONE . This is the final product if you are me!

My own kids were home at the time I made the pumpkin spice playdough-and of course wanted to try it out!

Monday, 1 October 2012

A lesson in kindness

As a parent, I am fully aware of a child's ability to shock and awe.

As an educator, I have learned from experience that a child's mind is an amazing thing. Children can be mean. Everyone has heard that before. We've all met mean children. Children can be selfish. In fact, most children are selfish. They look out for themselves first and foremost. This is something that I think with proper guidance and positive role models-many children outgrow as they become kind, caring empathetic adults.

In the first 3 weeks of school I learned one unbelievably astonishing thing. SOME children-at the ripe old age of 5 can be more kind then an educated adult who knows better.

The 3rd week of school I was blown away by the most random out of left field remark by one of our kinders.

While working with a group of children at our graphic communication center (writing) a girl who was playing in drama walked over to me and said with a ridiculous amount of confidence and certainty, "Mrs. Adams-you know what you should do sometimes?" And I responded "No. What should I do sometimes?" Which was retorted with "Sometimes you should donate some food to your local food bank."

Yep. Just like that, and then she went to walk away.

I was blown away. Seriously taken back. I mean, she's 5!!! Most children at 5 don't know what a food bank is do they? Because most of our class had no idea. But she did, and she knew that there was a demand for food in them. She knew why. She knew there were hungry people in our community and she knew that it was up to our community to help them when times are tough. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug her. I wanted her to meet my own children so she could rub off on them. (My children are kind too. Very kind in fact. But i immediately thought 'Have I ever talked to my own children about a food bank?' I went home that night and discussed it with them.)

At 5 years old. She knew. She knew about kindness.

This got our wheels turning and turning and we decided if the children were interested, this could be a very big project.

The next day we took this to our community circle, and our little girl told the class her idea. We voted and decided that we would in fact donate to our local food bank. We discussed why there are food banks. We discussed why we would want to donate to the food bank. We discussed what we could do once our donations started coming in. We knew this project would have many teachable moments hidden in it.

SO. We went to our administration and got permission to take this on. I did up a quick newsletter explaining the project so that our families would want to be a part of it. CLICK HERE TO SEE THAT NEWSLETTER!

We got an immediate response. Some children brought a couple things. Some children brought none. That's okay. We made it very clear to them that not every ones family would be able to donate, but that they would still have an important part in the project!
Some children have been bringing one item per day.

Today we took on the task of sorting our items, and counting them. This is what that looked like.


The final tally.
Our chart that had our tally on it, as well as how we sorted the items (soups, tomato sauce, treats, fruit, pasta and extras-along with how many of each)

A structure we built using soup cans!
And another. They are really into the whole structure thing since we introduced our Block Challenge.
This project is meaningful. It was child directed. The kids get excited about it. They love to hand in their donations, they loved counting and sorting and talking about what is a "sometimes food" compared to an "anytime food". This week our deadline comes to hand in donations. We will then decorate a box to deliver it in and we will deliver it.
 I think that many children are memorable. Most will be remembered for something or other. I will ALWAYS ALWAYS remember this child and the compassion for others that she already knows about at this young age. Kindness is part of my philosophy of life. Implementing this project has made my first month with this kinder class one of the most memorable months of my life :) I have much hope for the future.
Sorry about all the words again. I just loved this project, and really wanted to share the valuable experience with you.