Today, we introduced the students to a new chapter of Forest Fours by implementing a writing component to our day. Each child received a special journal that travels with us while on the trails. The students are allowed to draw pictures of the games that they are playing, the structures they build, or the specimens they see while out in nature (fungus, birds, rocks, deer, etc.). They also are allowed to collect things like leaves or small pieces of moss and tape them into their journals for safe keeping.
In addition to the journals, we borrowed four Polaroid cameras from Mrs. Weber so that the students can take pictures of items that would be too big to fit in their journals. The pictures are then taped onto a page and the students write about what they observed. The journals will travel with us each time we venture into the woods and the children are allowed to fill their journals to their heart’s content whenever they deem it necessary.
Since it’s inception, our class has used Forest Four days to play in an unstructured setting so that they could explore and create at their will. The addition of the forest journals allows students to extend their learning by giving them the opportunity to write, even while outdoors. Through this activity, the students are practicing skills such as fine motor development, phonemic awareness, self-regulation, observation, categorization, identification, and much more. We look forward to sharing our journal entries with you in the future!
As many of you have noticed, our students have been challenged each morning with answering various questions about the human body for our Morning Message. These questions were created and answered by the students. So far, the questions have mostly revolved around our hearts, blood, and veins. Once the children have a chance to use their prior knowledge to take a guess, we spend some time doing research to hopefully find the answer to their inquiries. Yesterday, we had the students write in their journals about one thing they had learned about our bodies this week.
Side note: take a look at that amazing kid-writing!
This week our students had a chance to meet their fourth grade buddies today! Each child was paired up with either one or two fourth grade students and they had some time to look at books and read together. We will get together with our buddies several times throughout the year to read stories, play games, and interact on the playground. We also will be sitting with our buddies during the Thanksgiving Feast next Tuesday. The bonds that are created during this time last throughout each child’s WT school career and become some of their fondest memories.
After our buddies returned to their classroom, the Pre-K wrote about their favorite part of the experience in their journals. These were their responses.
Throughout the school day, Marie and I spend a significant amount of time observing the students’ play. We write anecdotes about what the students are playing and sometimes even the conversations they have with one another. This helps us learn more about the students’ personalities, how they navigate friendships and conflict, and where their interests lie. Once the students have started to get to know one another, you may start to see trends in their play. We then take those trends and find ways to infuse them into our classroom so that we may broaden their understanding and of course implement a ton of learning along the way.
In the past week, we have noticed the students have become more and more interested in money and how it is used, so we decided that we needed a bank. The students started writing lots of numbers on paper for dollars and cutting out little, tiny coins to fill up the cash register. We even voted on a name for the bank. After much consideration and many great ideas (“The Dollar Store” being my favorite) they came up with “The Beautiful Bank”.
Yesterday, we started talking about how you get money from the bank. Many of the students had differing ideas. Some students said that you have to pay for the money, while others said the people at the bank just give it to you. One child said that you have to get money from the “money machine” but wasn’t really sure what that might look like. Several students said it needed a screen and buttons and a place for the money to come out. We decided that we should make a design for the money machine before we try to build it. Below, you will find the students’ ideas for what they think the money machine should look like.
We are excited to see where this topic may take us next!
A few days ago, while playing it their secret hiding spot, a few children found a blue egg and quickly raced to show the teachers. Some discussion erupted about what could have hatched from the egg. Many children felt that it was a bird egg, possibly even a Robin’s egg. However, other children hypothesized that it could be something else that hatches from eggs. These are some of their ideas.
With this new curiosity in all things egg-related, we’ve decided delve in deeper to see what new information we might find!
Our students came up with many name suggestions for our new friend and then voted on them during morning meeting. The name “Lucy” received the most votes and our friend was welcomed into our classroom. The students have taken to showing her around the classroom, making her snacks (pretend of course), and asking if she could join them in Library class. We are excited to see what other kind of adventures Lucy will go on next!
Our students are currently conducting an experiment to see what happens to garbage when it gets buried beneath the soil. They have placed a tomato, pepper, leaf, and plastic grocery bag in a clear compost container and covered each item with dirt. The students will be observing and journaling about the decomposing process, or lack there of, over the course of several weeks.
Today, our students started a new morning job in our classroom called “Planning and Reflection” journals. After the students have finished the morning message, they are asked to think about what they might want to do/play while at school today. When they have an idea, they record their idea in their journal. Some students draw a picture, others use their kid-writing to get their ideas down on paper, and some do both. Not only does this activity provide the students with another opportunity to write, but it helps guide the children into meaningful play.
At the end of the day, the students will reflect on what actually happened today. Did they stick to their plan or did they decided to do something different? Perhaps a super exciting activity happened today that they would rather write about instead (i.e. soccer with Mr. Cooper or a haunted Art class with Mrs. Allan).
The journals help the students make conscious decisions about their daily activities and if those ideas are worth playing again. They also become a great example of how the students grow and mature throughout the year. The improvement of the students’ ideas, drawings, and writing become very obvious as the year progresses.