## New Décor

During our spider investigation, we learned that spiders have two body parts, an abdomen and a head.  We inspected many plastic, paper, and even a few live examples of spider specimens to check our estimates regarding the number of legs they might have.  (All of the children can now proudly state that there are eight!).  We used this knowledge to create our own classroom arachnids.

Now that we have a room full of spiders, we need someplace for them to live.  When the question was put to the children, they suggested that we needed a forest.  Of course our concurrent discussion of bats inspired others to create a comfy cave and fancy, pink bat-house, as well.  As you can see from the picture to the right, one student noticed that we were missing the sky and a sun.  He quickly remedied this dire situation.

## Hungry Bats

In a separate activity, the students were asked to use one to one correspondence and number recognition to create lunch for some hungry fruit bats.  They used orange play dough to roll “fruit” for each tree.  We were practicing accurate counting from 1-10.  At this stage, we expect them to begin to develop and consistently use reliable counting strategies.  For example,they might touch each object as they count or move one object at a time to match each number they say.

One of the most difficult parts of this task in Pre-K is the tendency to forget that counting is needed.  Generally, the children start counting as they create balls of dough, but get either overwhelmed or over enthusiastic as they progress past five.  One of the skills we work on is to “go back and check” as they count.  We frequently ask, “How many do you have now?” and “What number were you trying to make?”

## Introducing: Automated Storytelling!

This past week, we also introduced the use of the “Listening Center”.  Most of you are familiar with this school staple.  Our first book was Bats Around the Clock, by Kathi Appelt.  We practiced the ancient tradition of turning a tape recorder on and off (something that I’m sure they’ll never need to do outside of an early childhood classroom). After listening to the story, the students wrote about something that happened in the book.  Throughout the year, a few of these “book reports” will make their way into the children’s portfolios for your enjoyment.

## Leaf Collections

While hiking in the woods with Mr. Cooper, the students gathered a large collection of leaves.  When they arrived back in the room, we weren’t quite sure what to do with them.  (I was pretty sure that placing 20 to 30 leaves in each child’s back pack might make for a bit of a hectic evening for you all!)  Then, we realized that they would make a lovely mural for our room.  Each child choose how they were going to adhere the leaves to the paper and placed in a flurry of activity.  It was wonderful to see them all working together on such a large project  without any squabbling or worry over ownership.  The children talked as they worked and solved design problems as they went.  When leaves didn’t stick properly, other children offered kind advice.  When an empty spot in the mural was noticed, it was quickly filled.  There were also lots of conversations regarding the shapes and colors of the leaves.  Now we’ll have to see if we can find any unrepresented varieties on the playground!

## Layers Upon Layers

Our dinosaur environment mural has grown in-depth this week.  Two more sets of children worked on different parts of the picture during center time.  The first group added all things green in our world for dinos.  They began with green paint with a small amount of yellow floating on the surface.  I was curious to see if they would blend it together or simply allow it to streak through the green as they painted.  Instead, one child carefully dipped a paint brush in only the yellow and made a sun slightly above the tree trunk painted by the last group.  Then he mixed in the green and painted more of the picture.   The yellow sun was later painted over with green while I was told that, “sometimes the sun is green when it goes down in the morning”.   (Note to self: Let’s talk about sunrise, sunset, and morning vs. evening.)  The other child methodically painted tree parts with her green paint.  When the first child created green dots on her end of the paper (flying leaves) she took it with great calmness and simply made her tree taller and wider.

Our next group was in charge of the lava.  This was a much-anticipated section of the mural.  At first, lava began streaming from the top of the volcano.  Then, one of the children decided that the nearby tree trunk should really be red, not brown.  Thus adapted, the trunk now looks as though it is heated in the glow of the hot lava.  Some of the lava made it into an arc above the volcano.  One of the children is hoping that he can eventually finish it off with the rest of the colors of the rainbow.  As you can see, by the time this group finished, almost the entire volcano was covered in red, hot lava.  We’ll have to work together to come up with a plan for where the dinosaurs will be able to stand safely.  We wouldn’t want them to get toasty feet!

## Beginning a Mural

Our dinosaur research has begun!  Now that we are learning more about these amazing creatures, we are designing a place to showcase our knowledge.  Our new mural began with a discussion about environments and what we might see surrounding our dinosaurs.  The children decided that our picture should include a volcano, plants, trees, dirt, mud, water, and lava.  Painting began yesterday.

The paper we chose for this project is very large, so we had a difficult time finding room to paint on it.  We settled on a section of wall that we covered with drop cloth and scrap paper.  Painting the sky was a very large job, so we used traditional wall paint brushes to cover the area.  Today, two children were in charge of deciding where the brown paint should go.  They sketched in the volcano first and then painted it in.  Next, they chose to paint trunks for trees.  Finally, they added some “mud” along the bottom.

## Castle Mural Part I

As part of our fairy tale study, we began constructing a large mural that includes a castle.  The main background was painted light blue by the students to represent the sky.  Next, we used texture rubbing plates to create a large variety of bumpy blackish-brownish papers.  After our discussion of symmetry and our block printing experience, I cut the texture papers into block shapes and the children designed our castle.  Each child picked two each of two shapes and placed them symmetrically on the castle.  They created towers, walls, overhangs, and turrets.

This activity was followed a day later with a discussion about how our project looked thus far.  We looked at it critically and tried to decide if it was missing anything.  It seems that it still needed windows, a gate or drawbridge, trees, towers, a moat, and lots of creatures.  The children decided we had a long way to go before we could call this project “done”.

Our next step was completed by my Thursday afternoon crew.  They each painted grey two paper towel tubes cut to resemble towers.  The children used double-sided wall mounting strips to place them on the castle.

Finishing up our background, the students remembered that the castle needed a moat.  It sort of looked like it was floating in the air without one.  We used torn tissue paper and watered-down glue to add a layer of “water” to the bottom of our mural.

Our next endeavor will be to populate our castle.  Who do you think belongs in our mural?  What else are we missing?