Pre-k Visits the Aviary

Yesterday, our class traveled to the National Aviary as a culminating activity for our study of birds. The students were surprised to see that many of the birds were not behind cages but actually were able to fly/wander around the room as they wished. Some birds kept their distance, while other birds tried to camouflage themselves within our group so they could escape the room! We learned that some birds eat fruit, seeds, and worms while other birds eat the meat from dead animals and how important they are for our environment. The class was treated to an up-close encounter with a zealous vulture who enjoyed jumping down from the trainer’s arm to check out the reflexes of our students. Some friends that were lucky enough to feed mealworms and fish to the birds in the Wetlands room and we all had the opportunity to feed a bowl full of nectar to the Lorikeets. Some students were a little nervous having the birds so close to us (the Lories actually land on your hand to eat) but all students persevered and were calm and respectful to the birds. One student, as we walked out of the Lorikeet room, exclaimed, “That was heaven!”.

During this field trip, our class also had the opportunity to participate in a project that Mrs. Weber has been piloting, called Big Shot Camera. WT purchased cameras, which arrive disassembled, and the fifth graders worked to build them into functional digital cameras. Mrs. Weber then has spent time with each class teaching the students how to take pictures of the world around us. Our class chose to use the cameras to take pictures of the all the birds they saw during our trip.

We were so proud of our Pre-K class throughout this trip. Not only were their many other schools visiting the Aviary, but the students were challenged with being so close to these unusual animals. The students followed all of the directions, showed calm, listening bodies, and truly showed us how much they have matured over the course of this year. It is very clear that our students are ready for next year.


Pre-K and K Students @ the Carnegie International

“Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten students  visited the Carnegie Museum of Art to see the 2013 Carnegie International, a survey of Contemporary Art that happens every four to five years. They will create a work of art in reaction to the show which will be on display in an all-school art show in the spring.” —Mrs. Sally Allan (WTN Art Teacher)

Yesterday’s trip to the museum was incredible.  To be honest, I was a bit skeptical. Last time I took a group of Pre-Kindergarten students for a tour of art, the trip turned out to be terribly developmentally inappropriate. (Interpret this as Long and Boring.) Obviously, I didn’t have the right guide!

Mrs. Allan led us through the 2013 Carnegie International exhibit and provided each child with a sketch journal.  Each room we visited held visually stimulating pieces that drew the children in immediately.  Most of our tour focused on the shapes and lines of things.  In one area the children attempted their first contour drawings, following the lines of the pieces in front of them.  In another the children searched for shapes within the sculptures and drew their favorite pieces.  The “Balloon Playground”  in the DIY Playground exhibit was wildly popular.  The final piece we visited, the Wrecking Ball, imparted the most lasting memories.  When asked today, most of the children claimed it was their favorite part of the show.

Egyptian Artifacts and Field Trips

The field trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History went quite well yesterday. We arrived about 10:15 and headed directly up to the third floor to check out the permanent Egyptian exhibit.  We spent about 45 minutes exploring in groups of four and each group discovered a separate favorite section or display.

Our Trip to WQED

Wednesday’s field trip has been declared a success!  We bundled into the two WT vans at 8:45, buckled our seat belts, and set off on our first beyond-school adventure.  The van ride was enjoyable as we told stories and sang songs.  Most of the songs and stories were invented on the spot.

When we arrived at WQED in Oakland, we were greeted by Ms. Maria who planned to take us on a tour.  Ms. Maria had obviously done many tours before and was quick on her feet, especially when our wiggly ones were ready to move on to the next area. Our first stop was the radio station where Anna Singer was playing The Greatest Video Game Music. The children were hopping with excitement when they heard the theme from Angry Birds playing.
[vimeo w=400&h=300]

wqed from Bess Forst on Vimeo.

Our next stop was in one of the control rooms where the programming is supervised.  Even though the buttons were extremely tempting, we made it through without one accidental “push”.

Next, we visited an editing room.  Here we met two nice people who patiently explained the answer to our initial question.  They told us that people get into the television by being recorded with a camera.  The recording goes onto a tape (they had many to show us), and then the tape goes into a machine to play back the recording.  The children asked questions such as, “What does it mean to record?” and “What’s a tape?”.  (Funny how something that was common for us as children, is already lost from their cultural language!)

I’m looking forward to recording the next conversation about “How people get inside the TV”.   I’m curious to see how much of the information was assimilated with their previous knowledge.  We’ll have to make sure that we write down that conversation to share with you, as well.

Our final stop on the tour was a visit to the original tree-house and castle from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  For those who are new to the Pittsburgh area, this famous show was filmed right here in our town.  Pittsburgh holds a very strong connection with Mr. Rogers and the Fred Rogers Company.  For this reason, even though the show has been off air for a number of years, many of our children still know who he was and were excited to see pieces from such a famous set.

Wonka Vision?

As you know, our students have become very interested in topics such as interviews, entertainment, and the ubiquitous television.

During a discussion about TV, the question came up, “How do those people and animals get inside your television?”  The answers were both quaint and hilarious.  Here is a transcript of the conversation for your enjoyment:
Me: How do people get in to the TV?
Child 1: The characters jump in a pot and then they show up on the screen.
Child 2: There is a door in the back.
Child 3: The spy kids sneak in at night-time.
Child 4: They go through a cat’s tummy.
Child 5: They go into the toilet and get flushed down and they end up on TV.
Child 3: People draw on their heads and that’s the key to get into TV.
Child 6: They just try to run through the TV.  And they jump from TV to TV in your neighbor’s house.

We will be supporting this fascination by taking a trip to WQED’s studio tomorrow morning. We will depart from the school at 8:45 and will return around noon (depending on traffic). This will provide a regular morning for any half-day students. The students will be able to tour the studios, meet people who work in the business, and hopefully find out a definite answer of how people get in the television.

Our Dinosaur Adventure

Our trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History went very well. We began our visit in the Bonehunters Quarry where we donned goggles and used chisels to carefully reveal fossils buried beneath the dirt.  The children were excited when they realized that they could identify a couple of skulls, some teeth, and even a long set of what might be neck bones.  We learned that paleontologists must be very gentle with the fossils as they unearth them.  Broken fossils are not nearly as easy to work with as intact ones.

Following our digging expedition, we meandered over to the main dinosaur exhibit.  Our first stop was in a section devoted to extinct underwater creatures.  We looked everywhere, but could not find an example of R.’s Dinichthys.  We did, however, find some models that looked as though might be relatives of his research choice.

Before entering the main dinosaur area, we climbed the stairs to the overlook.  From here, we had an excellent view of the sauropods and other dinos below.  When we returned downstairs, the class was surprised to find how large the models were.  The Diplodocus was so long, we decided to try to measure it.  Walking together, we discovered that it is 60 “steps” long from tail-tip to nose.  Now we just need to walk that distance on the play ground to get a better idea of how it would fit in our space here at North.  There were two Tyrannosauruses for our “soon-to-be” experts to examine.  We did not find a Velociraptor, but we did see an Allosaurus, another type of carnivore.  The Stegosaurus and the Triceratops  were not quite as large as the children expected even though they were still large.  In one of the images below, you’ll see me holding up a student next to a Diplodocus femur.  We compared the length of each of the children with this bone and figured out where our own femurs are located.

On our way out of the dinosaur exhibit, we stopped for a while to view the current work of the paleontologists inside their laboratory.  It was interesting to see these workers in action.  Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what grown up jobs really look like.

Our plan is to bring the experience back to our classroom as we begin our Dinosaur Research Journals.  Today we discussed what a journal is used for (“a place to draw pictures so that you remember stuff” – A) and what research is (“finding out things you want to know” – S).


Field Trip, January 26

The Pre-K will be visiting the Carnegie Museum of Natural History next week on Wednesday, January 26th.  Our van will leave WTN at 9:30 and will return around noon.  We’ll practice our paleontology skills first in the Dinosaur Dig area, followed by a leisurely trip through the Dinosaur exhibit.  We’ll be keeping our eyes open for clues about our research dinosaurs!

Please Note:  If there is a school closing or delay, we will reschedule our trip.



Our First Venture

Our first field trip has been scheduled.  We will be visiting Harvest Valley Farms on October 5th.  Here is a blurb from their flier describing what our tour will include:

  • [An] educational and entertaining skit to show the farm vegetables to the students.
  • Visit the animals down in the barn.
  • Pick a pumpkin in the “Most Sincere” Pumpkin Patch.
  • Return to the Country Store for a glass of apple cider.