Forest Fours Journals

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!

This Moment

There is nothing better than enjoying snack outside on a beautiful fall morning!
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Nature Day: Forest Fours Edition

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Yesterday, we joined together with the city campus Pre-K class for our annual Nature Day. Our nature explorers spent the whole morning playing, exploring, collecting, climbing, and making new friends. We even got to climb on a large tree that had been cut down on our property. The students couldn’t believe how big it was and were so excited when they figured out how to safely climb on top of it. We also spent some time introducing the new nature playground climbing structure to our new friends. We ended our picturesque day with a singalong and a picnic lunch. We are so excited that the students had some unstructured time to get to know one another and we cannot wait to everyone together again!

When Autumn Leaves Meet Summer Weather

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The Animal Restaurant

With each new year, and new group of students, I’m always so fascinated to see what types of games the students create with one another. Sometimes it’s a classic game of tag or “cops and robbers” but more often it’s a game that they created from their own imaginations. This year, many of the students were interested in collecting seeds from around the nature playground. When asked why they were collecting the seeds, they responded that they were for the animals to eat at the animal restaurant.

Since that day, the children have been working diligently to create different confections for the animals to eat. Some children helped by gathering a variety of natural materials for the kitchen such as rain water, grass, sand from smashed rocks, wood chips, acorns, pine needles, dirt, rocks, and what they had decided are lemons (but are actually walnuts). Once the materials were gathered, they students took turns adding them to the concoction they were working on at the moment. Some days it has been a cake, other days it has been a stew or a salad.

As other children have been inspired to join in the fun, new animal kitchens have popped up around the nature playground as well. A new animal restaurant was created yesterday in what we refer to as the”mud kitchen”, except that this restaurant has a twist. The animals that eat the food from the mud kitchen gain special powers like rainbow powers and storm cloud powers. Animals that wish to dine in this restaurant can use their special power to ward off bad guys that they may encounter in the woods.

 

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We are very excited to see where this game will take us in the following days or even weeks. Tomorrow we will be working on making signs for the restaurants. We will continue to observe the children working in their animal restaurants and hopefully we can find a way to turn this wonderfully imaginative play into a full-blown unit of study. We will keep you posted as the play progresses!

We’re All Friends

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Below, you will find the final draft for our Pre-K movie. The students diligently worked to craft their script and their characters. We could not be more proud of our students and their fabulous finished product!

Without further ado, I give you…

 

 

We’re All Friends

 

N.M. – a fairy queen
V.H. – Elsa
Z.W. – a dog named Shelf
R.M. – a doggie named Emma
A.H. – Sleeping Beauty
Z.B. – a talking carrot
P.M. – Steve
L.W. – Monster
L.L. – a baby horse named Melissa
J.K. – Olaf

Once upon a time there were two little dogs and a boy named Steve. Steve looks at his dogs and says, “Hey, you want to play?” and they played together and Steve said, “I’m going to throw this football like a quarterback.”

Shelf the dog plays football too and then they paint together.

Emma the dog says, “Olaf come play with us!” and they have a big party with Olaf and they all play like a family.
Shelf the dog says “Hey want to have a sleepover.” Everyone says “Yeah!”
Just then, they see two princesses. One named Elsa and one named Sleeping Beauty. They come to the party with a baby horse named Melissa.
Olaf says, “Would you like to stay over” and he says “Ok, we have 100 beds for you sleep in”. And they say, “Ok sounds good.”
Everyone gets tired and they all go to sleep.

The next day, everyone wakes up.
Elsa says, “Can we play outside?”
(Everyone nods)
Melissa says, “Let’s do some gardening!”
So they dig in the garden and plant some flowers.
Elsa says, “Wow, there’s a big carrot!”
Sleeping Beauty says, “Let’s pull it out!”
They all say, “One, two, three, pull!!”
The talking carrot goes POP out of the ground and says “Hey everyone! How are you doing?”
Everyone says, “We’re great!”

Just then they see a fairy. Steve says, “I think I know this fairy”.
The fairy says, “Hi, I’m the Queen Fairy. I don’t think we’ve met before.”
“Hi. My name is Steve” and they shake hands and he invites her to play. “Would you like to play with us?”
“Yes!”
Just then, everyone realizes that the animals have gone missing. They all say “Oh no, where are our pets??”
They all start look everywhere. They look behind trees and rocks but they can’t find them.
The talking carrot says, “The monster took them!” and everyone gasps!
The fairy flies around and finds the animals. “The monster took them to a cave!” She says. She finds them in a cave and she uses her magic wand to free them.

She brings back the animals to the house but the animals are really tired and go they sleep.

But the monster comes back to get them! The monster says, “I want to eat those animals! I’m so hungry!”

The animals run away from the monster and hide behind the people.
Sleeping Beauty says, “You can eat some of our food instead!”
Shelf the dogs says, “Please don’t eat us, Monster.”
So Olaf and Steve give him lots of food from the refrigerator and he eats it all up. Then they all have a feast with lots of food.
The monster says, “Oh thank you, I feel stuffed!”
Everyone says, “Want to stay and play?”
And the monster says, “Yes, Please”.
Everyone says, “YAY!”
And they lived happily ever after.

The End.

Too Many Pumpkins

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Recently, our class started reading a new story entitled, Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White. The story begins with a young woman who does not like pumpkins, based on a childhood memory where she had to eat pumpkins for every meal for two weeks straight. As the woman gets older, she vows never to look at a pumpkin again! Until, she unwillingly finds herself with a whole crop of giant pumpkins in her front yard!

At this point in the story, we decided to pause our reading to ask, “How do you think she will get rid of all the pumpkins?” The students had so many wonderful ideas, we made a journal entry about it! These were their ideas.

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Flooding the Nile

When we first started our investigation of Ancient Egypt, many of the students wanted to know where people got their food and how they lived back then.  As a means to answer this question, we began reading a book that explained that the Nile river provided the Egyptian people with fertile soil each summer when it would overflow onto the banks. The people would plant seeds including wheat, barley, beans, and peas. Then they would let nature do the rest.

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To demonstrate this, we created our own river bed out of some potting soil, foil, rocks, and lots of water! We then planted some grass seed on the river banks and proceeded to flood the river. The water spilled over the edges of the river, effectively watering the seeds. Now we wait. Hopefully by the time we return from spring break, we will begin to see some noticeable changes in our river banks.

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What did you do in Pre-K?

This has been a very busy week.  It always seems, as we draw closer to the end of the year, that the number and variety of projects we still wish to accomplish becomes insurmountable.  Maybe you’ll let me keep them all for another year? Yes? Hmmm…I guess not.  In that case, I’ll just fill you in on what’s been happening this week.

Our play garden has finally developed enough to add the mushrooms and some small friends for playing.  My plan to use the path for a game board has been a bit challenged by the grass growth, though.  On Monday, the children used scissors to help me give it a trim and I’ve been trying to keep up with weeding between the rocks, but it is still jungle-esque.

Our basil plants have grown much in the last few weeks.  I think I will send them home with the children on Monday.  Care and feeding should be quite easy.  Simply fill the bottom of the 2-liter bottle half-way with water and set the upturned top inside the bottom.  This step makes it self-watering.  Place it in a sunny spot indoors or out and you’ll have yummy basil all summer.

Another activity that involves up-cycled materials used most of the water bottle caps we’ve been collecting all year.  At first, I had planned for us to make some sort of outdoor musical instrument or chime.  The sound of the many caps clinking together is rather pleasant.  However, as I began on a test version, I realized how much a string of them resembled a caterpillar.  What luck since we’re preparing for our annual Very Hungry Caterpillar play.

Each child took turns using a hammer and a short, sharp nail to pre-poke holes into all of the lids.  We practiced one at a time during a Morning Meeting so that I could be sure that each child understood the procedures and safety issues that needed to be in place.  We also placed the cap on a clipboard prior to hammering so that we wouldn’t damage the tables.

For many of the children, this was the first time they had been allowed to use a hammer.  I was very impressed with the earnestness with which they approached the task.  Not once all week was there a wild or dangerous moment.  They took this job quite seriously.

The next step was new for many as well.  They had to thread a large, plastic needle with twine and “sew” twenty of the caps together.  All of the children have had many experiences with beads, but the change in mode of string delivery caused a bit of confusion.  At least two students muddled through poking the twine through the holes of a couple of caps without the needle only to find that the needle was still attached near the knot at the end.  Once we figured out how to hold the needle and both ends of string together in a pincer grasp, it became much easier.  It was also a great opportunity for me to informally assess their ability to consistently count objects to twenty.

The rest of the week involved a plethora of preparation for our play  [isn’t that a mouthful].  I think I’ll just allow you to wonder what those projects might have been, though.  We’ll see all of you next Friday at 10:45 for our play and you can see for yourself.  Remember, if it is a dry day, we will be performing outside on the playground on the stage.  If it is raining, you can safely assume that we’ll be in the multipurpose room.  Our family picnic will follow directly with the location to be set by the weather.  So far, families have signed up to bring fruit, juice, and cookies.  If anyone wants to add pretzels or other crunchy treat or any other dishes, please let me know.  I ordered the sandwich rings this morning, so I’m salivating already.

Garden Work

Looking at our garden mural last week, the children realized we were still missing some important elements that we had included on our plan.  We were in need of both grass and clouds.  Two groups chose to focus on each of these problems.  They were told that they could use any of our art materials for the task, but they had to create their own design.

The cloud group chose to use paper from the “fancy scrap paper” basket and a container of cotton balls.  Two of the group chose to make 3D clouds by cutting and folding paper into a shape that pleased them.  They then used tape to secure the shape.  I was impressed that their first attempt did not include a flat, two-dimensional version.  The third member of the cloud team re-created a sky on a new piece of paper and then carefully glued on cotton balls in three straight lines.

The grass team chose a completely different material for their project.  While digging through our supplies, they came across an old, green, flannel scarf.  They decided that it would be perfect for grass.  After carrying it over to the mural, they realized that it was too long.  Without any prompting from me, one of the students yelled, “We need to measure it!”  I asked the group how they could measure the scarf and the mural.  Another child remembered that one of our dramatic play area baskets held a toy measuring tape.  Two children stretched out the tape while one looked at the numbers.  Working together, they decided on an appropriate place to cut the scarf.  Then, they had to figure out how to attach their grass to the mural.  Their first suggestion was staples, but I nixed that idea since I”m hoping that we’ll be able to move our mural for the Very Hungry Caterpillar play on May 20th.  Eventually, they decided that tape was the best solution.  Around 40 pieces of tape later, we had some very lovely grass on our mural.