What is alive?

Side conversations in Pre-K can often illuminate quietly held misconceptions. The other day, three children were talking about whether or not a particular playground item was alive or not. Piquining my interest, I tuned in. The debate brought in neighboring children and it became obvious that each had their own rules for what might prove a thing’s “aliveness.”

Things the children thought might be alive:

Bugs
People
Cats
Rocks
Water
Toy Cars

The next day, we set this as our Morning Message.

How do you know something is alive?

  • You see it moving.
  • It has eyes.
  • It can move.
  • It moves with its whole body.
  • It eats.
  • It is crawling.
  • It’s moving its arms and its legs.
  • It can be alive because it moves and tries to crawl around.
  • They go poop on the potty.
  • If their mouth has a bubble coming out of it with words.

Collating this list, there was some confusion as a few children felt there are things in the world that are alive, but do not fit these rules. Instead of refining our rules, we had many more questions.we asked the children to draw a picture of something that was alive and something that was not alive. The assignment for the day was for the children to find something outside that was either alive or not alive for me to take a picture of.

The next day, we decided to try approaching this topic from another angle. This time, we asked them to draw a picture of something alive on one side of a piece of paper and something that was not alive on the other. This task was much easier for the children. Every single one drew something that is certainly alive on one side and something that is not, on the other. However, we realized that we, the teachers, had made an erroneous assumption. Although we meant “things that can be alive”, that is not what we said. When a quarter of the class identified their non-living things as things that have died, we realized our mistake. The children weren’t wrong, but we’d missed the concept we were trying to help them process.

As we continue to follow the questions, we’ll see if maybe we can agree on a more inclusive list of rules that will inform us if something is alive.

What can you do with a box?

One of our favorite pastimes in Pre-K is inventing something new with a box.  This fall, we had a huge assortment of boxes at our disposal.  Before we began designing, we read both Jane Yolen’s What to Do With a Box and Dana Meachen Rau’s A Box Can Be Many Things.  We realized that there were so many possibilities, it would be hard to choose just one giant project.  To help us narrow our focus, we closed up all of the boxes and pretended they were blocks, instead.  After some preliminary “block building” with the pieces we had on hand, a few ideas came to the forefront.

P1270732

Options provided by the children included a boat, a rocket, a cat, and a castle.  One morning, we all voted to find out which design we should choose.  At ten votes, creating a castle was easily the most popular choice.

In the past, we’ve always depended upon duct tape for our box construction needs.  This morning we began using some new child-friendly box tools.  While the hand saws were fun to use, they were a bit difficult for our Pre-K hands to manipulate.  However, I was quite impressed with the resilience of the many that returned to using the saws again and again.  The screws and screwdrivers were much more comfortably applied.  In fact, you might notice that many screws grace our castle as pure decoration.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When the final walls had been battened down, groups of children went off on their own to create accessories.  So far we have a chair, a trash can, and two mailboxes.  Signs and flags were also quickly posted on the structure.

It’s hard to believe this entire project was put together in one morning.  I wonder what direction it will take tomorrow?

How’s your bucket?

HowFull

This week we read, “How Full is Your Bucket? For kids.”  In this story, we learned that each of us has an invisible bucket we cart along with us everywhere.  With each negative interaction or event drops of “water” drip out.  When your bucket is empty, it can be hard to be kind or helpful.  It can also make you feel sad or irritated.  On the other hand, with every positive interaction or event, our bucket fills up.  We also found out that when we are kind or helpful to others, not only do we refill their bucket, but add new drops to our own, too.

Some days, your bucket seems to be leaking like a sieve.  Your alarm clock didn’t go off.  You burnt the toast.  Your dog stepped in the mud and then jumped on your pants as you walked out the door.  All of these tiny little things take from your bucket.  Children and adults are more quick to anger, irritate, judge,  and outright react without thought when their bucket is empty.

We’ve been noticing when our buckets are losing water and when we can help fill another person’s bucket.  Today on the playground, I saw children filling buckets by sharing binoculars, taking turns on the swing, helping others build once a building had collapsed, and by inviting friends to join them in play. If you notice your bucket is a bit low, try a small act of kindness.  You’d be surprised how quickly it will fill back up.

 

Why do we have bones?

P1260794Finding this bone in the woods has led to much wonder and curiosity.  Whose bone is it?  Why was it in our woods?  This week, we wanted to know why we even have bones.

HuM: Because when you don’t stand up, you don’t have any more bones.

SR: They’re a part of your body.

BW: Because we don’t wanna fall down.

KH: They help us not die and keep us standing.

IP: Help us not be broken.

EH:  If we don’t have bones, it’s going to be tough to move.

MB: We’re humans.  We need bones to be alive and maybe we’ll be a little bit alive.

MH: Bones are just a decoration.

GK: If we don’t have bones, we would not live anymore.  They help us cook our dinner and help us get our lunchbox.

XZ: They help us be strong.

HeM: Not breaking.

MS: Make us feel hard.

AZ: They make us strong.

AH: To be strong and healthy. To grow!

We’ll have to take a closer look to find out more!

Corn Experiment #1

One of the children asked us many times if we might try cooking the corn.  We asked them how we should cook it.  After a bit of thinking, they decided that their mom makes corn in the oven.  We weren’t sure where this experiment might lead, but we thought it was certainly an interesting prospect.

P1270143

The temperature and baking time were suggested by the experimenting student.

P1270152

These cooked quietly in the science lab while we finished our choice time in the classroom.  The children helped us set a timer so we wouldn’t forget to pull them out of the oven.  Two students watched the timer carefully for the last 9 minutes.

P1270171

When Miss. Davis brought them in, the pan was still hot.  We noticed they didn’t look too different.  We did, however, decide that we should keep them separate from the other corn so we could compare them.  One child suggested making a label and another wrote it out for us.P1270188

Once we looked a bit closer, we could see some differences between the cooked and uncooked corn.  What do you notice?

P1270201

Corn on the Cob

Now that Applefest has wrapped up, we are finding lots of treasures left behind on the playground.  Yesterday morning, the children discovered a few dried corn cobs that had fallen off of the decoration stalks.  The cobs moved to the outdoor Maker Space where a makeshift factory was set up.  Small fingers patiently and diligently removed every kernel.P1270130P1270131P1270136

This activity continued in the afternoon.  Sadly, we discovered that our original corn collection had been accidentally misplaced by the older students.  (Chalk it up to practicing perseverance.)  No worries! We found more ears of corn to work with and many more classmates joined in on the project.  In addition to the kernel factory, an airplane was built nearby where corn kernels could be delivered via leaf plates for hungry passengers.

As we worked, a few of the children came up with a plan for the corn.  One child wanted to know if we could cook it.  Hmm….we’ll see how that experiment works a  bit later. (Don’t worry, we don’t plan to eat it.)

The Science Lab

One of our centers had a makeover recently.  Due to the sharing of nature collections from both at school and at home, the children have created what they call “The Science Lab.”  We have ample acorns, plentiful pinecones, noodle-like nests, and one slightly dead, but way cool, cicada.  The children have created their own experiments involving buoyancy, auditory tones, and habitats.  Collections are also a great way to practice our math skills.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

One Little Pigeon and the Big, Bad Spider: The Final Draft

Last night we shared our movie with family and friends.  We rolled out the red carpet, enjoyed pizza and salad, and smiled for the paparazzi.  This project couldn’t have been possible without the children’s creative ideas and the help of Mrs. Haluszczak.  Filming in the past, we discovered that attempting to film the story straight through was a painfully long process.  This year, we tried arranging filming day a bit differently.  While Weird Eric and I worked with current scene actors, Mrs. Haluszczak took the remainder outside.  They spent the morning exploring Spring as it presented itself that day.

For those that are intersted, our final draft follows.  I’ve also attached some of our shot notes and the storyboard if you are curious to see how we organized ourselves for this process.

2018 Pre-K Movie_Final

Scene I: Pigeons’ House, exterior

Narrator:  Once upon a time there was a little pigeon playing basketball.  A Big Bad Spider came along.

BBS: “What are you doing?”  

Pigeon: “I’m playing basketball”

Narrator:  Then the pigeon ran into his house.  The BBS was very hungry and now he was grumpy and lonely.  He knocked on the door.

BBS Knocks

BBS: Pretty please, can I come in and get some food?

Pigeon:  Not by the feathers of our feathers, feathers, feathers!

Narrator: The BBS tries to wrap the house in a web.

BBS tries to throw a web on the house

Narrator:  The police officers came.  

Four police officers and two police dogs enter the scene.

Officer X: Halt in the name of the stars!

Officer R: Halt in the name of the star loft!

Officer N:  You’re going to prison.

Officer F:  I’m going to capture the Big Bad Spider

The BBS is hiding from the police.

Officer N: The police dogs can sniff out the Big Bad Spider.

PD V:  We’ll find him, sir.

Police dogs run back and forth sniffing for the spider.  Eventually, they find him and go get the police officers.

PD Kate: Woof Woof! We found him!

PD Victor:  We found him! Can we have lunch now?

Officer R:  Yes, you may.

Officer X:  Good job, doggies!

Officers F & N:  Good job today!

Police give the PDs dog bones.

PD K:  Woof, woof! Thank you!

Narrator:  They captured the BBS and took him to the police car.  

Police take BBS to car and drive away.


Scene II: Pigeons’ house, interior

Narrator:  The pigeon decides to watch tv.  

Pigeon W: (turning on the tv using remote) I’m going to watch, “The Unicorn Drives the Bus” show.  


Scene III:  On the TV, Unicorn driving a bus

Narrator:  The Sparkly Unicorn decides to drive somewhere.

Sparkly Unicorn:  I’m going to have some mac and cheese and some Brussels sprouts.

Narrator:  Then the Sparkly Unicorn gets dressed in pink stuff.  Then she puts on some make-up. She begins to drive.

Sparkly Unicorn: I have to pick up White Cat on the way.  

Pick up White Cat on the bus.

Sparkly Unicorn:  Come on, let’s go to our meeting.

White Cat: I hope we have fun at our meeting.

Sparkly Unicorn:  Sparkle Butterfly and Rainbow Butterfly are going to be there.

White Cat:  Ok. Well, that sounds fun.

Narrator:  They drive to the meeting.


Scene IV:  An office or meeting place

Narrator:  Rainbow Butterfly and Sparkle Butterfly are at the meeting.  They are all talking about work.

Improv “work talk”, Sparkly Unicorn, White Cat, Rainbow B, and Sparkle B.

Narrator:  Rainbow Butterfly and Sparkle Butterfly accidentally end the meeting by being too silly.  

Rainbow Butterfly and Strawberry leave scene.

Sparkly Unicorn & White Cat: What in the world!!!!


Scene V: The bus

Narrator:  White Cat and Sparkly Unicorn get back on the bus and leave.  After they drive for a while, they stop and go to sleep.


Scene VI:  Pigeons’ House, exterior

Narrator:  The pigeon goes back out to play basketball again.  

Everyone that isn’t BBS or police slowly comes over and says, “Can we play, too?”  All play basketball for a bit.

Order:  Rainbow G, Sparkly B, Sparkly Unicorn, White Cat

Narrator:  Then they all get tired and fall asleep in a heap.


Scene VII:  Police Headquarters, interior

Narrator:  The police officers drive the BBS to jail.  

Police taking BBS through the headquarters.

BBS:  “I just wanted some food!”  

Officer X:  We have some spider webs in the closet.

PD V:  They are really yummy.

PD K:  They are super good for spiders.

Officer N: They are very healthy!

Officer F:   “We have a web cage that can help you with that!”  

Officer R:  You have to keep eating it all day because we have lots.

Narrator:  The cage is made out of webs.

BBS: This cage is GREAT!

The BBS eats the web jail.  

Officer R:  “We’ll drive you back if you say please.”  

BBS:  “Please drive me back.  I want to make new friends.”  

Narrator:  The police drive everyone back to the pigeons’ home.  


Scene VIII:  Pigeons’ House, exterior

Narrator:  Everyone was inside when they arrived.  

Officer F:  Go knock on the door, spider.

The BBS knocks on the pigeons’ door.  

Pigeon:  “Who’s there?”

BBS:  “The Big Bad Spider, can I please have some webs to eat?”  

Pigeon:  “Sure! Here’s a web.”

Pigeon hands BBS some web.

Pigeon:   “You can have as much as you want.”

Rainbow B:  Let’s make a cake for the spider.

Officer X:  We’ll make it banana flavor

Sparkle B:  Let’s have a party.  

Narrator:  Everyone has a party at the pigeon house.

Dancing and partying ensues.


If you are curious about organizing an amateur shooting schedule here is how I did it:

Play2018_Storyboard

2018 Movie_Shots-character

Shooting_Order_2018 Movie_Shot List

“The Grinch is Real”

This conversation began at lunch yesterday.  I’m not quite sure how the topic began and it quickly spread across all tables in our classroom cafe.  The children were comparing notes on the proof they claim to have regarding the truth of the Grinch’s existence.  Some said he had climbed in their window and left a tuft of hair behind.  Others insisted that he had taken their very special bunny.  After many offers of supporting arguments, I decided we should probably get to the bottom of this quandary.  I asked the children how we could find out for sure if the Grinch was real.  They enthusiastically agreed that a trap was the best way to get proof.

grinch

grinch (7)

G:  We put lots of clips on him and take the clips on the door and we keep the clips open with scissors.  When he comes in the door, the clips close.

grinch (8)

V:  The Grinch can walk along and we make a button.  When he is coming, we push the button and the cage comes down.  Then Victory!

grinch (5)

R:  I want to put everywhere a net, so he can’t get anywhere and we can trap him in it.  We have to put them everywhere.  We’ve got to make a sign to say, “No Grinches Allowed!”

grinch (6)

W:  The Grinch will come into our school.  There’s a button that says, “Yummy Tasty Garbage for the Grinch to Eat,” but it tricks the Grinch.  It’s really a net that traps the Grinch.

grinch (3)

E:  When he steps on the pillow, the trap will fall down and pinch his hair, then he’ll walk in and be stuck.  I’ll put some garbage in the cage and when he gets it, the door will slam.

grinch (4)

X:  I made a net.  When he eats a hot dog, it will go down on his head.  …[G’s] clips will get his feet.

grinch (1)

B:  We can put traps all over the school and then take them out for people.

grinch (2)

K:  We need to see if he’s real.  If he’s laying in a rope, he’s real.  This is the escalator.  He’s pulling a rope.  It’s capturing him on the rope.

It seems the children have very definite ideas about how traps work.  They are also pretty confident that the “Grinch” is a bad-guy no matter whether they believe he exists or not.  I’m curious to see how they might build these traps.

Unboxing a Mystery

P1240712An unusual box arrived today.  Curiosity and excitement are bubbling out the door and down the hall.  What could be inside?

  • A hamster in a cage, because I saw one once.
  • A turtle because ___ put his finger in and he said something bit him.  It must be a turtle.
  • I think it’s a stuffed cat.  Stuffed cats come to your house in a box like that.
  • Glass because you said that it is fragile and can’t get hot or cold.
  • A turtle because that’s what some other people said.
  • A real cat.  When kittens came to my house, they came in a box.

We tried listening to the box for clues.  Unfortunately, we didn’t hear anything that might give us clues.

P1240709

Everyone wrote down their ideas using one of our Feely Box Friday forms.  The top says, “I think it is a________.”  We use the bottom to write about what we actually find.

P1240712

Finally, we opened the box.  Its contents were not what we expected.  Inside we found bugs! In fact, there were four containers of them.  The bugs are very small and a few of the children were a bit nervous that they might be poisonous.  I quickly assured them that I would never invite a dangerous bug into our school.  The package also contained some white fuzzy things, two little Petri dishes with what appear to be seeds, and some sort of crispy, hard thing that reminded the children of a butterfly “cocoon.”  I’ve set up all of these items in an observable space so we can keep an eye on them.  Our little scientists are looking forward to watching this drama unfold.