Sunday, 8 December 2013

Looking Closely Watercolour Paintings

This week we saw a lot of interest in painting with watercolours. After going on our weekly walk last Friday some of our kiddos wanted to paint the trees they saw. We revisited the the story Picture A Tree by Barbara Reid to look closely at trees during the different seasons.

We set up a painting table for the kiddos to experiment. First we set up some ground rules for this centre. If the kiddos wanted to create a beautiful watercolour they needed to produce a plan or draft version of what they were going to paint. They needed to make sure they had the details and colours they thought they might use.

Work in Progress completed over several days

For the following kiddos we added a new step to begin with completing the background for their picture. This is a great exercise in patience as they needed to wait for the background to dry prior to drawing with fine markers the picture they would end up painting. For some kiddos they wanted to see the snow sparkle so we found some sparkles and added it with a white glue water mixture to make their pictures shine.

Christmas Tree, Sun, Flower. Happy.

I made a snow tree. It makes me feel happy.

As final step we asked the kiddos what they had created and how it made them feel.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Looking Closely I-Movie

This past his week while on our outdoor walk, we decided to really look closely at things we noticed. Here's our movie!

This was sparked by the previous reading of a book in the Looking Closely series.

Leading up to our walk, a few of our kiddos took the ideas from this book to look closely at a picture and draw what they saw. I love how this kiddo took her painting then redrew the picture using pencils at a table and added some words.

Here's another project of looking closely to draw a squirrel that we saw outside. A group of kiddos were practicing how to draw a squirrel then add detail.

Keep posted next week to see where this project leads us.

Pirate and Mapping inquiry

This week we enjoyed having our caterpillar parents join us for the morning to participate and observe their children at "play". Some of the activities they witnessed seeing their kiddos do involved evading, writing, and a ton of oral language.

The story we read that sparked an interest.
For the past couple of weeks our kiddos have been interested in pirates and map making. After reading the story "Pirate Pete" the excitement around the carpet grew immediately. Without hesitation we encouraged several kiddos to make their own treasure maps. 
Several kiddos making their own treasure maps.

Ms Blundell put together a treasure map of our own that would lead the kiddos around the school in search of a final tasty treasure. The children begin their search with a quick lesson on reading a map and having to decode a clue. As all the kiddos wanted to participate Ms. Blundell took them in groups of five.  

Learning to read the map.

Finding the Start!

Taking the map with us so we won't get lost.

All the places we visited along the way.

This week we saw several groups of kiddos engaged at the carpet building their own pirate ship. With pirate hats on, some groups built big ships to allow all students a chance to jump aboard, while one day even Hop joined in on the sailing trip.  On another day, we saw a group build a pirate ship with a proper captains seat and gang plank for the "bad guys" to walk down. 

Pirate Ship with Gang Plank

Just the beginning of another ship.

Even Hop jumped aboard this day!

A captain steering the ship.

While the focus has been mostly on making treasure maps, a handful of kiddos delved into other maps with me this week. We looked at some examples of maps for the Toronto Zoo and tried to compare them to our kid made tea sure maps. We quickly noticed that both have pictures, lines/roads to follow, and a legend/words. 

Making our own maps.

If you have any maps at home that you could donate to our inquiry we would be very grateful if you could send them in next week. These could be maps of places you've been such as the zoo, Casa Loma, the subway, or a city map.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Butterfly Interviews Complete

I would like to thank all the Butterfly students and parents for coming in to share in your child's learning thus far in the school year. It was so much fun for me to see the kiddos take ownership in their document binders and show their parents all the great learning we have done so far.

Learning and talking about shadows.
"Can you step on your own shadow head?"
Using the concept of student led conferences, our SKs we able to show their parents all the learning centres in the classroom and show off their own personal good work.

I'm thankful that more parents will be viewing our blog and twitter pages. It is a great place to begin conversations with your child about the things going on at school.

Please feel free to leave us comments or questions either on the blog or directly related to a twitter picture. We love reading and responding to questions and comments. This form of communication keeps our kids in the tech savvy world they live in and at the same time opens the parent-school communication lines.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A week of squirrels

We were very fortunate to have Miss Amanda join us for the entire week as part of her in school placement. Having come on several class walks with us, and noticing what the kiddos are interested in, she further sparked their interest in squirrels by planning several follow up activities in the classroom.
Using collected leaves from outside, the kiddos created their own version of what a squirrel looks like. They talked about the various parts of a squirrel in order to create their art.

This week during our walk our focus was to see if we could find squirrel nests. Several kiddos looked high up in the trees to find nests, while others were looking for holes in the tree truck where the squirrels could hide. We found several of both.

Upon our return to the classroom, several kiddos were engaged in the creation of their own version of a squirrels nest. We talked about how the squirrels get up high in the trees, and how they would protect their homes if made inside a tree trunk.

Making our own squirrel nest
During our walk we were fortunate to come across one of the neighbour's pear tree. To our amazement several pears had fallen to the ground. They looked so tasty, we collected a few and brought them back to the classroom where we enjoyed the sweet fruit, just as the squirrels had done earlier in the week.

Next week we will learn how to write a thank you note and send it along to the neighbour with the tree.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Bat Caves, Pumpkins and Our Bunny

Making Playdoh
Last week was filled with many fun learning experiences. As Halloween quickly approached, many of the kiddos became very excited and could hardly contain themselves until the end of the week. We have talked at length about the importance of eating healthy foods at snack time and saving our treats until lunch or home time. The kiddos are learning that too much sugar in the day stops our brains from working properly and more arguments happen.

Miss Amanda started our week with making playdoh. Many kiddos had a hand in measuring the ingredients, mixing them together, and seeing the flour and salt turn into playdoh. Many kiddos created Halloween "cookies" throughout the week.

Looking Closely at pumpkins and gourds.
Leading up to Halloween, several kiddos were excited to inquire about our class pumpkin. We have looked at the parts of a pumpkin, looked closely at pumpkins to draw and paint them, and lastly we scooped out our pumpkin, baked the seeds, are carved it into a Jack-o-lantern. Many kiddos noticed a change in the Jack-o-lantern's face as we put the top on and off.

Drawing and painting what we see.

Pumpkins growing, flies eating the pumpkin.

Fun with Jack-o-lanterns

During the week, many kiddos became very interested in bats and spooky things in the night. We added plastic bats to the block centre and asked the kiddos to create their version of a Bat Cave. Over several days, many different caves emerged. We had several discussions about how bat get in and out of their caves. This week we are delving further into the topic of Bats.
Bat Cave with spiders for food.
Working on the construction before recess.

Bat sleeping in the cave - can you see them?

Bats all around searching for food.

Another variation on a Bat Cave.

Hop had us very entertained last week playing with all the transportation toys. Usually we let her out for the morning period while we are engaged in our learning centres. She usually hops around, hiding from those kiddos who chase her. Last week, as the kiddos are getting more used to her and her to us, she decided to hop onto the carpet and play with the toys. We did not interrupt her, rather we observed what she would do, and to our amazement she played with several planes shaking them and throwing them up in the air. Does she know that planes fly in the sky????

Hop playing with the transportation toys!

I am looking forward to see where more interest in bats will take us.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Trees, Pumpkins, Patterns, and Tea Parties

This week on our walk we went to visit our tree. To lots of amazement our tree has made a big change. There are very few leaves left on the branches.

Our tree in October.

Ms. C. Why do you think the leaves aren't there?
A.L. The wind is blowing hard.
I.P. It is very windy.
D.C. It is very windy and they are gone away.
L.H. It is fall and that's what happens.

Ms. C. How did our leaves change in colour?
T.T. It is a pretty colour.
C.Y. It is a pretty red.
C.C. I like this red colour.
E.Z. No change, both red.

D.C. Asked me if I could tell another story around our tree.

The part of the Magical Tree Story that relates to what we are seeing today is: Our magical tree changes its leaf colours and drops the leaves to tell the squirrels and their friends that it is time for them to collect food for the long cold winter ahead.

Upon our return to the classroom, all the kiddos participated in our collaborative Fall Tree art piece. Next week we must find a spot to put it up. It is so beautiful and will remind us of Autumn all year long.

This term we are very fortunate to have an ECE teacher candidate in our classroom. Miss Amanda will continue to be with us until the end of  November.  She has integrated well into the classroom and has already planned and executed several lessons.

This past week her focus was in the areas of Personal, Social, Oral Language, and Maths. Several kiddos were able to participate in a Tea Party where they learned to set a table, count using one-to-one correspondence, talk politely and listen to their friends while enjoying several different kinds of tea. The kiddos talked about the different kinds of teas Miss Amanda had out, they discovered that girls prefer tea and more boys preferred juice. It was interesting to listen to the kiddos describe the tea leaves before and after they were put in the hot water.

For another provocation this week, we brought in some gourds for the kiddos to look at, sketch, and label. As a whole class we labelled a pumpkin and it's inside parts. Many kiddos enjoyed doing the same with the gourds at the table. One of our kiddos also brought in a little pumpkin for us to put at the painting easel. It was so fun to see the pumpkin art come from that area of the classroom. As we added more gourds throughout the week it was interesting to listen to the new language being used to describe the new gourds: bumpy, oval, ouchy, smooth.

As we continue to teach the kiddos to "look closely" at everything they see, one of our kiddos did an outstanding job of recreating our crabapple tree branch using Sharpie Markers and Oil Pastels. She really paid attention to the details and took her time to create this beautiful piece of art by looking closely.

Our focus for our Maths mini-lessons have been on patterning. We are looking at making patterns with colour, shapes, objects, and size. It is wonderful to hear the kiddos finding patterns outside and all around the classroom. At home you can encourage your kiddo to find and make patterns in the kitchen with setting the table (fork, spoon, fork, spoon), placing food on a plate (apple piece, grape, grape, apple piece, grape, grape)  etc.

Have a happy week ahead! Leave us a comment if you'd like to share.

Kim Clark

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Bunny Inquiry continued

We have had a very busy week inquiring into our class pet. The Bunny Inquiry is a whole class project this year. There have been several inquisitive kiddos, asking questions, drawing what they observe, and bringing in things for her to try.

Learning how to label a diagram using the I-Pad.

Having watched and observed what the teachers are feeding Hop every day, a few of the kiddos are beginning to bring in food from their home gardens and refrigerators to see if Hop will like their food. Earlier in the week we began a chart to track all the foods the kiddos bring in for Hop to try and we will continue to track whether she likes it or not.

Keeping track of what Hop likes. 

Today 2 friends brought in the same thing to feed her. Carrots seem to be a big hit with both the kiddos and Hop. They like to be able to put the food in the cage themselves.

Today she escaped while we were putting in the carrots and unfortunately we had an unexpected fire drill. We had to learn that Hop needed to stay behind as it is more important to get the kids outside to safety. Thankfully it was just a malfunction in the fire system and Hop was still safe too. When we came back in, we were extra careful to keep indoor voices to help not scare Hop even more. She soon returned to her playful self.

Once we settled back into the morning routine, it was a good time to talk about and brainstorm all the things we think would "Make a Good Pet Owner". The kiddos came up with some really good ideas.  We also talked about the different types of pets a family might have and how their needs could be different. For example, we have to clean out Hop's litter box, whereas a fish we would have to change the water.

Class created chart

The kiddos in room 127 are well on their way to becoming good pet owners. We now even have kiddos asking to help clean out the cage.

I can't wait to keep learning responsibility with Hop's help.