Welcome to The Wonder Jewelry Shop. A couple of days before our Thanksgiving Break a few of the children started making paper purses in the art studio. What began as one or two a day soon became a mass production. When they realized they had such a large number of purses, they decided that the best thing to do was to open a store. The shelves in the science lab were cleared off, and stocking merchandise began. A few children suggested other accessories that might be sold in the shop, though purses continued to be the main attraction.
When we returned to school six days later, merchandise production went back into full swing. As soon as the store was named, the very fancy sign seen above was designed and posted by the “door.” Two cash registers, an old keyboard, two old phones, and a mouse were added so the store employees could “work.”
One of the children informed us that purses with short or no handles are called bags. These were placed directly on the shelf for display. The longer handled purses are displayed on the walls of the shop. I wondered aloud how a customer might know how much to pay for a purse. So far the consensus is that whoever is selling the purse will just tell you how much it costs.
I was informed today that the Wonder Jewelry Store will have a Grand Opening at 2:00 on Thursday. I’m not yet sure what this entails as the spokesperson did not give me any details. Although, in the last three minutes of class, I did hear a rumor that lipstick might be on sale soon!
Want to know who is allowed to shop in this exclusive store? Here is a soundbite the children made earlier today. I just found it on Seesaw a minute ago:
And I found more!
I just found another clip on Seesaw. This one was obviously designed as a commercial. Note, adults did not have anything to do with the recording. The children use our class iPad to document their learning and share it with their parents. Near the end, you can hear an adult nearby suggesting that jewelry and purses are not actually gender bound. Our voice-over artist isn’t so sure. Sounds like a great place to start a discussion.
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.
Last week, a handful of the students transformed into architects and spent several days creating a city landscape in our block center. The city included parking lots, a school, an airport, a zoo, and of course lots of buildings! Each day, the students added more features to the city such as walls (to keep the animals from escaping), bridges, and more road signs. They also designed maps for their city in case it ever needs to be repaired or remodeled. Then, this week, one of the students proclaimed that it should be called North West City. Each day, the city expands and develops into a more intricate design.
The students have worked together to problem solve when the buildings have fallen apart, where to put new structures, and what to do when they ran out of blocks. The collaboration and synergy has been effortless and is proof that that our once young, wide-eyed students are now confident and ready for kindergarten.
This week we carried our practice subitizing small sets a bit further. Given a set of four rocks, one child acted as the “teacher” and covered any number of rocks with their hand. The second child, “student”, then deduced how many were hidden. They used their knowledge of “four” and the visual clues showing how many were still uncovered. Subitizing and working memory united to build on the children’s growing understanding of sets.
In the past week, the students have been playing a game during center time called “Letter Builders” where they work with various wooden shapes to build a given letter. At the beginning of the game, the students are given a card with a letter displayed on it and they are asked to figure out which pieces they will need to make their letter. They then take the wooden pieces and place them right on top of the letter card. In most cases, the students exclaim how easy the task is and that they are ready for more of a challenge.
Once the students are comfortable with their abilities to manipulate the shapes, the letter card is then placed on a stand that sits in the middle of the table. The students must now create the letter shape while looking at the letter card from afar rather than directly in front of them. While this seems like it should be an easy task, the children actually must now use their executive functioning skills and working memory to hold the shape of the letter in their minds while searching for the appropriate pieces. Then they must create the shape of the letter in front of them without the help of the card underneath as a guide. The letters that use more straight pieces tend to be the easiest for the students to create, while the letters that use curvy pieces or letter that requires the students to cross the midline prove to be the most challenging. Some of the letters require the students to overlap the pieces, which created an extra challenge for them to tackle.
The last step in the game is when the students must create the letters completely on their own. The letter cards are put away and the student are asked to create the letter completely from memory. This is obviously the most challenging as the students must think about what shapes they will need without an example in front of them to use as a resource. Some students quickly problem solved this issue by looking around the room for the letter they were working on or even looking at a neighbor’s completed letter. The more the students work with the letters and their shapes, the easier the task becomes.
Today, we focused on creating uppercase letters as they are easier to form. Next time we play, the students will be challenged with creating lowercase letters with the wooden shapes. This makes the task slightly more difficult as the students will have to make sure their letter shapes are facing the correct direction. When shifted, even slightly, it can be easy to accidentally create the wrong letter. Letters such as b, d, p, and q look remarkably alike and the students will have to stay focused in order to create the correct letter. We know that our Pre-k Letter Builders will be up for the challenge!
Our families are made of so many different people. Yesterday’s Morning Message asked, “Do you have a sister?” Children who do have a sister put their names inside a circle that was labeled “yes.” Those without put their names outside of the circle. Today repeated the question about brothers. Taking it a step further, we put two circles on the floor and handed each child a doll to represent themselves. If you have a sister or brother, you put your doll in the corresponding circle. If you do not have either, you put your doll on the outside of the circles.
All was well, until someone discovered that they needed more dolls. One of the children realized that they had a brother and a sister and didn’t know what to do with their doll. Mrs. Pless asked for solution suggestions from the group. We had a few ideas percolating.
Put dolls who have brothers and sisters in between the two circles. We tried it, but the children realized that then it looked as though those dolls had “No” siblings.
Place the two circles on top of one another and then place all of the sibling dolls in the new, single circle. Children who have only one sibling quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work.
Pick up the top (now stacked) circle and slide it over so that the two overlap only a small bit in the middle. The overlap is where you put dolls who have both brothers and sisters.
We have certainly had classes figure out the final solution in the past, but we’ve never had so many thoughtful experimental ideas. It was quite exciting to watch their mathematical thinking stretch.
When the students came back from winter break, they noticed that something new was added to the loft. They spent most of the morning studying the contraption and making guesses about how it could be used. The hook seemed to be the most recognizable part of the tool and it quickly was decided that it had to be an anchor. After some exploration, we sat down with the students to explain that the new tool was called a pulley and it was used for carrying various items from the top of the loft to the bottom and vice versa. The students spent a few minutes learning how to use the tool safely and troubleshooting how we could safely attach the rope to the loft. Then it was time to test it out!
Monday our City friends joined us for a day of play, songs, hikes and other nature based activities. Both groups of children enjoyed getting to know one another on the nature playground. Mr. Cooper took all of us for a hike before lunch, which we ate outdoors. Many of the children chose to work on one of our two new weaving looms. One is stationary and the other will travel back to the City Campus Pre-K playground.
We introduced ten-frames the other day. In Pre-K we begin by using them to tell stories. As you might read in the link above, ten-frames are frequently used when children are beginning to practice subitizing, quickly assigning a verbal number to a set of objects. This is an important mathematical skill, but at this time it is not our main focus. We are focusing on one-to-one correspondence, oral language, turn taking, working memory and basic structure of a ten-frame. Each child approaches the task at their own level, expanding their knowledge and experience.
The students start with a blank ten-frame. We call it the “garden”. They also have chosen ten glass stones known as dragon tears or dragon seeds. Mrs. Pless or I then tell them a story.
Once upon a time, a wee little [Katie] elf planted three dragon seeds in her garden. (everyone places three stones in the squares, one for each square starting at the top left)
Along came a bird who dropped two more seeds. (place two more seeds in their plots)
The sun shone, the rain came down, the dragon plants grew and grew. Use your fingers to show me how many dragon plants grew in the garden.
The fun begins after they have practiced a few teacher stories. Now it is their turn to tell stories to each other. One narrates while the other reenacts on their garden. Stay tuned for a recent tale…..