First Draft (Pre-K Play 2017)

Our class is exactly one week away from filming our movie, so I thought you might want to see how our writing process has evolved this year. Every year’s writing style is a little different, depending on the group of students and their prior knowledge about storytelling. We spend a great deal of time talking about story elements like the beginning, middle, and end and the problem and solution in stories. Then beginning in January, the students start creating characters and working together to tell whatever story they come up with that day.

Below, I have included the very first draft that our students wrote this year. You’ll notice that it is mostly story telling and very little spoken lines. As the students become more comfortable in the writing process they begin to tell the story through the spoken language, rather than having the narrator explain everything. You’ll also notice that the students chose all original characters. We always start the writing process by discussing what copyright means and how we can’t steal ideas from other people. It also makes for some pretty interesting characters and ultimately fun storytelling.

You might also notice that some students chose a character but then don’t actually do anything in the play. We allow the students to take on as much of a role in the story as they want. Some students are not as comfortable having speaking parts as others and some just forget to include themselves in the story line. The next writing session always starts by acting out what they had written the last time. This gives the students and opportunity to see what needs to be changed or added. It also is a great way for those students to see whether they are a large part in the play or not at all. The students can then decide to make little changes to the current story or write a whole new story line. This class  has stuck with the same story throughout all of our writing sessions, which has never happened up until this point! There is a first time for everything!

 

Enjoy!

 

January 3, 2017

S.A. – Mom Princess Heart

E.C. – Mom Princess Flower

C.P.– Princess Snow Angel

G.K. – a baby

Z.G. – a talking hamburger

G.S. – a skeleton with fire hat

C.S. – Princess Snowflake

N.T. – a fairy

I.M. – Santa

V.J. – a whale

W.W. – a talking garbage can

F.R. – Princess Pom Pom

 

Once upon a time there was a little home out in the west and it was snowing. In the snow there was a castle where some princesses live. Santa shows up at the castle and he goes down their chimney and he puts some presents under the tree. Then he goes back up the chimney and leaves. Outside the castle there was a moat and in that moat lived a whale. He looks up chimney and he sees Santa coming out. And he says, “Just gimme a present.” And Santa said, “No.” and then flies away.

Inside, the talking garbage can is very happy because Santa gave him some garbage to eat. Princess Snowflake comes out of her room and says, “Whats going on?” and she checks to see if the sun is up and if it’s time for breakfast. The talking hamburger says that the food is ready! Princess Snowflake looks outside and it’s still night time and there were a big snow storm happening outside. There was lighting. The fairy wakes up too and tries to use her magic to make the storm stop and it works!

Then all the princesses wake up and come downstairs for breakfast. They look under the tree and see some presents. They open their presents. Then they go outside and play for a little bit but they get cold so they come inside and take a bath. But they forgot to close and the door and Mom Princess Heart notices a snake has come inside. The snake bites her and she gets hurt. The skeleton comes with fire hose and he blows the snake away with the water.

Princess Pom Pom and the baby take their mom to the doctor so she can get a shot and band aid.

And they lived happily ever after!

The End!

Adventures in Nature

This week, our class got a little too close the pond than our protective Daddy Goose would have liked and he quickly let us know to find another way around with a perfectly-timed hiss or two. The students handled it well and slowly backed away to give the goose some extra space. Once we were a safe distance away, I explained that the geese have recently laid eggs on the island in the pond and are now very protective of their home and their growing babies. I continued by saying that the geese don’t know that we won’t hurt their babies and sometimes they get upset when we get too close to the pond. Then, one of our youngest students looked at me as said,

“Yeah and the goose probably doesn’t know that this is Winchester Thurston and we ‘think also of the comforts and the rights of others’ so we would never hurt their babies.”

Proof that caring for others and nature go hand in hand!

 

Pre-K Pet Store

This morning, a group of students spent a large chunk of their morning play time designing and implementing a classroom pet store. The students worked diligently to draw various pets that could be sold and decided together how much each pet should cost. It wasn’t long before they pulled out the cash register and started making money and credit cards that people could use to purchase the animals. The name of the pet store is still up for debate but lots of ideas were tossed around. The look of excitement was clearly present on each of their faces and we are anxious to see how this pet store will grow and prosper within the classroom.

Rainy Day Discovery

This morning’s weather proved to be little finicky as it rained on and off for over an hour but that didn’t deter our youngest explorers. We prepared ourselves with boots and raincoats and then embarked on the great outdoors to enjoy the unseasonably warm day. It wasn’t long before a student noticed a small worm making his way up the side of boulder. We theorized about how he was able to hang on to the rock without any arms or legs. We studied how his body would shrink and then stretch as he so effortlessly moved across the rock once he reached the top. Then, before we knew it, there were two worms crawling across the rock. One student proclaimed that there were so many worms out because it was raining and worms love water. The students took turns gently touching the worm and then squealing with joy. It always amazes me what wonderment can be found on what might seem like a dreary day.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

It was a blustery, wintry, picture perfect Forest Fours day today! Not only was there enough snow to finally go sled riding, but it was also great packing snow. We had giant snow balls and snow-people galore and many discussion about where the fairies go for the winter. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect morning. I think it’s safe to say that our little snow bunnies quite thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

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Go Noodle!

When the winter months start to roll around, there are often days at a time when the students are stuck inside due to the extremely cold temperatures. Wiggly bodies and pent up energy can be difficult to manage in our small classroom, but luckily we have a trick up our sleeves and it goes by the name of GoNoodle.com. Go Noodle is a website that provides hundreds of videos that gets kids exercising, practicing brain building activities, and even has a mindfulness section that helps bring students back to a calm, controlled state of being.

When signing up for our account, the class was assigned a little creature (named McPufferson) who grows and get stronger the more we complete the videos. The students relish in seeing “our guy” gain points and level up to become bigger and stronger with each video. In just a few weeks, our students have already memorized several of the silly songs, motions, and breathing exercises and often talk about them throughout the day.

The website has been a great resource for us to help fight off cabin fever and get our bodies moving. Anecdotally, I also have to admit that it has been a great way to get my heart pumping on those drab, wintery days. If you are interested in signing up at home, the sight is completely free and there is an option to sign up as a parent rather than a whole class. We highly recommend it!

 

Letter Builders

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!