Education · PreK class

Night sky- bats, owls and spiders

This week, we learned a bit more about nocturnal animals. We read stories about bats and owls. We used spiders in some of our learning activities… just cause!

Our must do stations this week were:

writing table- name practice. The children had to rainbow write their name, but I put plastic canvas sheets under to add a textural element. As with all coloring activities in my classroom, they needed to use the same number of crayons as their age (ie a 4 year old needs to use 4 crayons, a 5 year old 5 crayons).

math station- number practice. The children were given a paper bag that held their supplies. In the bag, they had 4 spider webs, the number cards 5, 6, 7, and 8, and some spiders. The children had to designate each web to represent one of the numbers and then put the spiders on the web to match the number. This learning activity is number sense, number recognition, and counting all rolled into one fun lesson.

art station- spider webs. We attached yarn to spider rings. The children then dipped the yarn into yellow or orange paint. They then pulled the yarn across the paper to paint the webs. The children were then given corks dipped in black paint to paint spiders. They added googly eyes and drew legs with a black marker.

teacher table- printing. We have begun printing practice. We started the E and F. We will go through all the capital letters and then move onto the lowercase. They have done a great job working on E and F. Next week we will do H and L.

We watched the YouTube read aloud of the book Stellaluna today. The children really enjoy this change from me reading the book, and I find that I can engage them in longer stories when I use this medium.  After, we created a table of bat and bird attributes. The children did a great job telling me not only the attributes articulating the similarities and differences. Our graph this week will be would you rather be a bat or a bird.

Tomorrow we will do our STEM project which will be to create a bat, owl or spider outline using marshmallows and toothpicks. I found a really cool paper airplane style STEM where you have the children draw a bat face and body in the middle of a piece of paper. Then they have to fold the paper to make a bat. Then you can test them out to see which flies the best. I know my class and we aren’t ready for this, but I will keep it in the back of my mind for another time.

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Education · PreK class

Field trip… done!

The field trip went smoothly. The children had a lot of fun and enjoyed going to the farm. The farmer geared the story and activities to the different groups which worked out perfectly.

For my 4s she reviewed a variety of vegetables that they grow on the farm and then showed them the seeds from which the vegetables grew from. The children did a good naming most of the vegetables that she showed. We then heard the story The Carrot Seed.

After the story, we went and saw 100 chicks, 3 piglets, 2 miniature horses and a very large goat in the barn. Outside the barn there were two donkeys and some more goats.

We then walked over to the pumpkin patch. Each child was able to pick a pumpkin to take home. They then were able to feed the sheep some cabbage and see the pigs.

After that was all done, the children were given apple cider in take home pumpkin cups.

All in all it was a success. Only a few kiddos fell and got muddy. There were no tears (well from my class anyway) and we didn’t lose any children (or parents). So for a field trip, I call that a success!

life · PreK class

It’s Monday!

What a busy month this has been. I feel like the weeks are flying by and we will soon be posting about Christmas plans.  Eek, never mind I’m not ready to go there yet.

This weekend we went out kayaking for 3 hours. Let me tell you that if you kayak correctly, you get a really good core workout. I was focusing on keeping my “paddle box” and not paddling with my arms as much. I could really feel it in my lower back and abs. We saw the blue herons, cormorants, blue jays and ducks. This was scheduled to be a fall leaf tour, but the leaves still haven’t changed here. I think this is going to be a very blah fall. The leaves aren’t changing, but they have started to fall off the trees. I hate falls like this. There is something magical about the colors of fall and when they don’t turn it feels like something is missing. This is one of the changes I was glad to have again when we moved to PA. I always missed the color changes when I lived in FL.

Today was one of “those days” at school. You have those days from time to time where you feel like it must be a full moon, but it’s not. I must be talking in a different language, but I’m not. Ummm ok it’s just an off day. Tomorrow we go on a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Today it is raining…. This means tomorrow we should be having a very muddy field trip. I will have 17 children and their families in a muddy pumpkin patch, oh joy! Oh and the temperatures have finally decided to drop into fall temperatures (Saturday we didn’t get out of the 40s!) My class is meeting at 10:30 it is forecast to be 39F at 10am and 42F by 11am. Cold and muddy. I think I’m pulling out my warm boots.

I hope life is treating you well in your little corner of the world.

 

 

Education · PreK class

Space and the night sky

This week we are learning about day and night.

The children completed a spill and spell activity with space words. In a zip lock bag, the children had a picture of a space word that has the word at the top, the word cut up into individual letters and letter cubes. They needed to read the word, at this age that means telling me what is on the picture. Then they needed to spill out the letter cards and put them in order to match the word on the picture card. After that, they had to put the letter cubes in order to spell the word again. (To do this activity with older children, do not put the word on the picture card and then have them write the word on a recording sheet.)

For art this week, they were given a black sheet of paper. I put large sheets of Styrofoam on the table. The children put the black paper on top of the Styrofoam and then used a pencil to poke holes into the paper. We then held the paper over a flashlight and could look at the constellation that they created. (For older children I would have them connect the dots to make an actual picture and then write about the story behind their constellation.)

We created a chart about the different things that you can do and see during the day and the night. It was interesting to see that many of the children said you only see lightning during the night time. Many children assume that once it gets dark out it is night time even if the the darkness is caused by a storm. One child did mention that you needed to turn on lights to see at night time.

We also used a flashlight to see why it changes between day and night.

We also touched on nocturnal animals to go with our poem this week. We will talk about this a bit more next week when we talk about bats.

Day and Night

They’re active at night.

They sleep while we play

They hunt in the dark.

They hide during the day.

Who are they?

Nocturnal Animals.

 

 

Education · PreK class · through my camera lens

October in K-Prep

Today was the last school day in September! It was our 16th day of school. Some days it feels like it has been a lot longer and other times I feel like I just started.

My aide and I stayed after school to get the classroom set up for our new month. Each month I pick a new theme for the month and base all our learning on that topic. September’s theme was changes. October’s theme is “the night sky’. We will learn about camping, stars/planets, day/night and nocturnal animals. (and pumpkins and Halloween).

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I changed our dramatic play area from housekeeping to a camping scene. It will be fun to see how creative the children get playing there. They will work this week to create a mural of the woods at night to be the background for the area. We have a tent that we set up. Then I created a fire pit using a platter, rocks, paper towel tubes and tissue paper. We sorted through the foods and found hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and other camping foods. We created marshmallows to roast and make into “s’mores”.  There is also a toy grill and cooking gear.

We are going to have bubble water in the sensory table. They will make mazes in the blocks area and you will now find all sorts of pumpkin, space, night and Halloween books around the room.

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We finished switching the bulletin board to “Welcome to Our Patch”. Each child marble painted with red, yellow and orange. We then transformed those pages into pumpkins. They were then given either yellow or black paper and told to create the face of the pumpkin. These turned out too cute.

Our classroom door decoration was changed as well, but it’s not quite finished. This time we traced and cut out the children’s arms/hands. The children then wrote their name on the arm and decorated the hand however they wished. I cut out a bunch of stars and the children got to decorate it with glue so we could glitter the stars. The hands are towards the bottom of the door, and the stars towards the top. It says “Reach for the stars”

Education · PreK class

No apple painting in my class

Yesterday, I wrote about teaching and the fact that we were learning about apples. Notice you did not see anything about apple painting in my lessons. When I was in grad school, I began looking at some of the projects that teachers typically do in class with foods. I decided that I needed to rethink this way of thinking. I cut way back on the items like this I did in class.

My first job in Orlando, I taught in a very low income area. All the children were on free or reduced lunch. Many struggled to put food on the table, or had to choose between buying food or paying the bills. I looked at the fact that I was feeding my students breakfast, lunch, and one (sometimes two) snacks.

This got me thinking… how can I waste food when they struggle to have enough food to eat. How could I used beans as a math tool or an art project, when beans were the protein staple in their home?

So I will use food from time to time in science experiments, but I never use food for art, in the sensory table or for a manipulative in any way.

Food is food. Food is precious to so many children and their families, I can not show children that in school food is a toy, an art medium or other things that then get thrown away.

This is why you will never see my students apple paint.

Education · PreK class

Changes: Fall and Apples

Can you believe that this is the last Monday in September? And, the first Monday in fall? This week in school we are finishing up our unit on changes. We are looking at the changing seasons and learning about apples.

We created a chart with things that occur during the four seasons. Then, as one of their “must do” centers the children are illustrating their own chart of the seasons. I was impressed with the details they were able to tell me about the four seasons. Summer was the one they had the hardest time listing different things other than it is hot.

We will read other stories about the season of fall and talk more about the changes we can observe based on the seasonal changes.

Today we started a STEM project. Did you ever wonder what is the best way to prevent apples from browning? We cut up an apple into 8 slices. We left two as the control slices. Then, we dipped 2 slices in water, 2 in vinegar and 2 in Sprite. We left them to sit about 5 min and then put them onto a plate. We will observe the changes over the week.

On Tuesday, we will taste test apples to see which apple color we like best (red, yellow or green). We will also begin our graph on how we like to eat apples (whole apple, apple juice, apple pie, applesauce or apple slices)

On Wednesday, it is Johnny Appleseed day. We will learn about Johnny Appleseed and make applesauce. I think I’ll bring in my instapot to speed up the process a bit since I only have the children from 9:15-12:15, I usually do this in my crock pot.

On Thursday, I will tell the story about the star inside the apple.  We will also learn about the parts of the apple and how it grows.

We are also working on writing out names, recognizing numerals, one-to-one correspondence to 5 and ordering numerals.

I can’t believe that we are moving onto our next month and our next theme on Monday. Life moves fast

Education · PreK class

Changes and color mixing

This week we are learning about color mixing in school. We are doing a walking water color experiment and colored ice cubes mix. The children will color on coffee filters with markers and then wet the filters to let the colors bleed together. We are also doing rainbow writing with their names and sorting pom poms by color.

Water walk color experiment: You fill cups with water (I used 9 cups) set the cups in sets of three. Put color into the outside cups and leave the middle cup with just water. Then put paper towel “bridges” between the cups. The water will begin to wick up from the colored water cup into the plain water cup. Then the two colors will mix together. This took a LOT more food coloring than I expected. I ended up having to put food coloring right at the top of the “bridge” to get it to mix. But in the end, it worked and the children got to see yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple, and red and yellow make orange.

Colored ice melt: Fill and ice cube tray with water. Add a few drops of food coloring to the sections to color the ice red, blue and yellow. Once frozen, you can put the ice into clear cups and then let the ice melt together. As it melts you should see the colors begin to mix. When we do this I will also add a cup that has red, yellow and blue so they can see it mix together into brown.

Coffee filter color mixing. This is a process based art activity. The children draw on coffee filters with markers. Then you have them use pippets to drop water onto the filter a few drops at a time. The marker colors will then begin to bleed and blend. Often times you will also see the colors separate. This is really cool when the black starts to separate into other colors.

Rainbow writing is a great way to help children master writing words. You write a word in one color, pencil or black works best. Then you have the children choose 3 or more crayons. The children have to write on top of the word you wrote with each of the three crayons, layering each on top of the last color. The more you write it the more colorful it becomes, and writing in layers of crayon helps build up the “feel” of the paper. (I often had my first graders use this method to practice spelling words)

Our poem this week is very simple and the children are already mastering it. I wrote it out on chart paper writing each line in the color word at the beginning. I then added quick illustrations to help them remember the last word. The children then had to illustrate their copy of the poem for their poetry journal.

Colors

Orange is a carrot.

Yellow is a pear.

Green is the grass.

Brown is a bear.

Purple is a plum.

Blue is the sky.

Black is a witch’s hat.

Red is cherry pie.

Education · PreK class

Changes and Names (school post)

Each month I will pick a different over all theme for the month. Then each week we will look at a different aspect within that theme.

For the month of September, our first month of school, I choose the theme of changes. Oh and let me tell you we are having some major changes. Some of my students have never been in any type of school setting before.  Others have, but it was not very structured and they were pretty much allowed to do what they wanted to do. That won’t work for me. While I know this is Pre-K and they need time to play, I’m pretty much known for developing a great structure and routine to my classroom day. We will get there!

For this first week, we are focusing on our names. I expected this to be a quick fun week knowing that I’d need to work on switching some children from writing their names all in capital letters over to writing their names with just one capital and the rest lowercase. I was shocked to see how many of my students did not even recognize their name in print, nevermind be able to write it. A few the struggle was the fact that they knew how to read their nickname, but I didn’t know that they were called by a nickname when I labeled everything in the classroom. Oh well, they will at least learn to read their given name.

Our poem this week is called Everybody Has a Name. We are working on learning this poem using echo reading. Having worked with K students so long and never having to actually teach this skill, I was surprised at how many children did not know how to just repeat what I said. It is getting better, but I still have some looking at me like I just read the line in a foreign language. Again… it’s week 1 and I know thing will get better as the year progresses.

Our 3 must do stations this were were covering their name with colored squares (these are being hung in the classroom), drawing a self portrait for our class-book, and illustrating the poem. Each week we will take a children’s book and rework it into a class book. This time around we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. We are rewriting it as Friend, Friend Who Do You See?.

Everybody Has a Name

By Jean Warren

Everybody has a name
Some are different
Some the same

Some are short
Some are long
All are right
None are wrong

My name is___________
It’s special to me
It’s exactly who
I want to be

 

life

September 11th

Yesterday I mentioned that I would share info about my school life today. I am not avoiding it, but felt that this post was more important.

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Every generation has a date or two that you just understand that this is a day I will always remember. For me, September 11th is one of these dates. I was at work. Working as a teacher I didn’t have access to tv or internet while the day was going on. This meant I was in the dark about life outside my classroom.

I dropped my students off in the cafeteria for lunch and still was not clued in that this day was anything different than the other days before.

I walked into the room where we had lunch. It wasn’t a true break room, but more a walled off area inside a classroom building. When I walked in the first thing I noticed was that the tv screen was not tuned into the school channel, providing the clock that everyone in the school followed for the daily schedule. There was a tv station on. It took me a good few minutes to process what I was seeing.

Attacked? What do you mean? Why were planes flying into buildings? What is going on. I had entered the room around 10:45 by this time all the planes had crashed. They were just getting out word about the Pennsylvania crash and all that entailed and then the towers began to collapse.

I can remember standing there as my fellow kindergarten teacher arrived. I can remember thinking…. what’s next? There was fear. There was a need to figure out what we could do? Do we go on with the day as planned? Will the school go on lock down? Will the parents tell their children what was happening?

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We decided as a grade not to tell the children what was going on at that time. It would have to be addressed tomorrow. We would need to be ready to squelch fears. We knew some parents would say nothing while others would tell too much. We knew that some families would show fear and others show strength. We needed to be calm. We needed to be honest. We needed to talk about the heroes. We needed to talk about standing united. We needed to show the children the even in times of great tragedy there is great strength.

Each year as time passes that clear details of that day get a bit fuzzier. But, that movement in time when I walked in and saw the tv on and the buildings on fire will never change. I still try to show children that whenever things go wrong we need to look for the heroes. Look for the people running towards danger instead of those running  away. Say thank you to those who help us stay safe.

So today, I had my class dress in red, white and blue. We learned to say the Pledge of Allegiance. We talked about today being a day to be “Proud to be an American”. While I do not teach my students about the true meaning behind 9/11, I will always have them honor the date.

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