Author Visit with Jason Chin

Today, our students traveled to the City Campus to meet Jason Chin, an author/illustrator of non-fiction pictures books. He read his book Gravity and talked about how he came up with the idea for the story and how it evolved over time. We also got a chance to see him do a quick drawing of some of the items from the book. After we spent some time with our visiting author, the Pre-K students got to meet up with their city counterparts for some exploring of their playground and playing with old and new friends.


My favorite part was…

After we returned from the Aviary, our students wrote in their journals about their favorite part of our trip. Below are their answers.

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.


The Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

Today, our class took our first field trip to the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems to learn more about what types of materials are used to make jewelry. As we walked through the exhibit, the students noticed the many similarities and differences between the various rocks and gems. Some were smooth and round while others were rough and jagged. There were many different colors and some specimens had several types of crystals existing on one rock. We learned that some rocks come from cooled lava and others come from sand. We even got to see some rocks glow under a UV light and were surprised to see that they glowed different colors. We also had a chance to see what the gems look like when they are polished and cut so that they can be used for jewelry. Many students were surprised how many different types and colors there were.

While the trip helped the children to see the variety of materials that are used to make jewelry, it also opened the door for new questions for us to answer. Where can you find gems other than in caves? What are the gems made from? How do they cut the gems? How do they get the gems to stay inside the jewelry? These are all wonderful questions that we hope to answer as we move forward in our study of jewelry.

Pre-K Playground Party!

After the author visit yesterday, our students were quite delighted with the opportunity to play on the newly constructed city campus playground. They quickly made new friends with the city pre-k and enthusiastically created chasing games, climbed trees, and made lovely music on the outdoor instruments.


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.

WT visits the MAKESHOP

Today, we traveled with our fourth grade buddies into the city to visit the MAKESHOP at the Children’s Museum. The students were ready and excited to talk about circuits! With a brief review about how circuits work, the children began experimenting with a battery pack equipped with two batteries, two wires, and a motor. The students spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to make the motor run.

Once everyone figured out how to turn their motor on, we got to work building different machines using recycled materials. Our fourth grade buddies helped us pick our materials and decide what type of a contraption to make. Some devices even had switches that allowed the creator to turn the motor on and off whenever they wanted.

With a pinch of experimentation and a ton of creativity, our students made some amazing devices! Each child was permitted to take their machine with them, so when your child gets home, be sure to ask them about what they made and how it works!

My favorite part of Pre-K was…

In the last few days of school, we tend to spend our time reflecting on what the students enjoyed the most during their time here in Pre-K. Sometimes it’s  activities we did together such as going on field trips or doing our play, and other times it’s as simple as playing with friends or spending time outside. We have had such a wonderful year playing, learning, and growing.

Here are the favorite activities of the 2012-2013 pre-kindergarten class.

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.