Sunday, November 30, 2014

Our Space Inquiry

Our latest inquiry, all about what really is in outer space, began about 6 weeks ago with this image of the children working at the light table which sparked a wonder:
S.Q.:  These are shooting stars.  I wonder how we can catch a shooting star?

And so our inquiry into stars, space and everything else beyond planet Earth began...

I found an incredible story book that I found fitting for our new inquiry...
The book, How to Catch a Star, by Oliver Jeffers shows a picture on the cover of a little boy trying to reach for a star.
Before I read the story to the class, I asked them how they thought we could catch a star.  

S.B.:  Go in a rocket ship and up close to a star.
A.M.:  Zoom into outer space with my astronaut suit.
M.R.:  Keep walking and you'll catch a star.
J.R.:  You land on the moon and wait until a star falls.

Students wanted to learn more about planets and stars and so we visited our school librarian for books.
The children were fascinated by what they saw inside, the many pictures and what we read about, that some of them wanted to draw their new findings.

We always document student wonders and keep these posted so that we can refer back to them as we continue to explore and discover more about outer space.
In one of our books, the children were very interested to learn more about constellations, or "star pictures" as one child called it.
I put up this picture on our Bright Links board of constellations and we discussed as a class how the pictures were made.
The next day I left out this provocation, or invitation for learning, which was to make their own constellations using black construction paper, chalk and then to push pin it so that they could hold it to the light and see "stars".
What fun we had!

Each day, as the children came to school, they continued to wonder about many things...including other planets in our solar system.
Through researching together, we read about the other planet names, how far they are from Earth and how much bigger or smaller they are compared to the sun.
The students wanted to create a planet display with their new knowledge so we assisted them in making paper mache planets and displaying them.
We are finishing the last few planets for our display this week and then they will be added.
Just last Friday I moved our Documentation Wall into the hallway as we made room in our classroom.
The picture came out so blurry!

Here are a few close ups of our Space Documentation Wall when it was posted in our classroom.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Santa's Workshop at our Dramatic Play Center

It's just about that time of year...Christmas!
You know it's coming close when all the chit chat in the classrooms suddenly turns to Santa, presents, counting down, and talk of a long awaited Winter Break.

So the students in my classroom, obviously, wanted to turn our Dramatic Center into something fitting for the holidays.
The students contributed by bringing in lots of wrapping paper, bows, ribbon, boxes, cards and bags!
Here is our new Santa's Workshop!
Don't you love the sign?
The children worked very hard on it yesterday.
On the other side of the puppet theatre, we added a place for bows, ribbons, scissors, tape, and boxes.  Gift wrap is found in the large basket to the right.
After choosing a toy or book to wrap for a friend, students select which bow they would like at the Gift Wrapping section.
To encourage writing, we added a Writing Station, complete with cards (some were bought and some were made by me) and tags.  We learned how to address a gift using the words "To" and "From".
One student said "We need a North Pole...pole!" so we made that for our centre today.
To encourage role play and turn taking, we made job necklaces that the students can choose from.
They hang here for the children to choose.
Everyone has a special role to play.  Today "Mrs. Claus" suggested that she bake some cookies to sell.
This student found metal juice lids and decorated them with craft materials to use as our cookies.
Another student who was playing an "Elf" wanted to be responsible for taking pictures with Santa...but we had no camera!  So he made one using a box brought in, a lid and foil.
Other students enjoyed using the cash register.
You can see all of the writing taking place at the Writing Centre today!  Everyone wanted to make a card!
It's on sale until tomorrow night and comes with LOTS of fun things to enrich your play!
Just add wrapping paper, boxes, bows and it's ready-to-use!

We have been talking a lot about list making for the past several weeks.
I put this writing paper out at our Writing Centre along with a variety of toy flyers.
Students were very excited to start a list for Santa by cutting and pasting items that they wanted and writing them.
You can download your own FREE list for Santa by clicking on the above picture.
I also included clip-art of various toys in case you didn't have any flyers available.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Can you guess how many seeds are in our pumpkin?

We had a few pumpkins in our class this year.
The large one, which we chose on our trip to the Pumpkin Patch a few weeks back, was carved just before Halloween.
We also had some small gourds at the Discovery Table as well as a pie pumpkin.
The other day I cut open the pie pumpkin and students began to see what was inside.
They were so surprised at how many seeds they could see!
A few students scooped out the seeds and wanted to wash them to get a better look.
I asked the students how many seeds they thought there were:

M.D.:  Maybe 100.
M.R.:  I think there are more than 1000!

We set off to count the seeds.
The students quickly realized that counting each seed was taking a long time and they easily lost track of which ones they already counted in the container.
So I asked if they could think of a better way to count the seeds.
S.B.:  We can look up how many there are in a book!
A.T.:  Maybe the computer will tell us how many there are supposed to be.
M.D.:  We can put them in piles and each count some.
Our students are familiar with using the 5-frame mats at our math centre since we have been using them for a few weeks.  My Senior Kindergarten students are also familiar with using a 10-frame mat since they would have remembered how to use one from last year.
So the students quickly began to place the seeds on the 10-frame mat as "counting by 10's is faster to get to 100" (M.D.).

The children began placing the seeds down on the table but soon realized that they were running out of room.  So they began using the floor (after an announcement was made to the rest of the class to please be careful around the work on the floor).
This was a big project that started yesterday and took most of this morning!
Once the children set aside 10 mats (of 10 seeds each) they understood that there were 100 seeds - they couldn't believe they counted out 100 seeds!
I asked them to place the seeds in a jar and label it for the rest of the class to see.
But there were still more seeds to count!
So we used our 10-frame mats once again and continued counting.
We reached another 100 seeds and placed them in a jar.
By the time we were finished, we had 4 jars labelled (3 of them had 100 seeds and the last had 27).
We added the numbers together to get a total of 327 seeds!
The rest of the class couldn't believe there were that many inside!
This was a fun, hands-on and meaningful activity that we all enjoyed!
Here are some great books that you might like to keep displayed near your pumpkin for the students to enjoy: