Road Trip (Part I)

Two of our dear friends moved back to Florida last week.  We are already missing their smiles.  Sigh….

No worries! The children have a plan….

We’re going on a road trip to Florida! Yippee! Oh, fine, it is only imaginary, but we can still make our plans.  To assist in the planning, I photocopied all of the pertinent states from my trusty road atlas and stitched them together with old-fashioned scotch tape.  The class was quite surprised to find such a spaghetti mess of roads between here and there.  Yet undaunted, they began to take action.

First, the children decided we needed a car to get there.  Enter our trusty stand-by, a nice empty box.

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Here are a few bits demonstrating the process and explaining some of the technical details:

I think we’ll need to attack the map next….

We’ve got this.

P1230338Two children were having a heated discussion regarding the distribution of toy cars.  We decided that the problem could best be solved by visiting the Peace Table.  In case you missed the introduction before, the Peace Table is a special place where two or more friends can work together to solve a problem.

Both children amicably sat down and I began my usual spiel.  To each child I asked, “What do you want?”  Both stated that they wanted to make a football game with the cars.  One child had been previously playing in the area before moving to make a ramp for a separate game.  The other child, inspired by the first, moved over to create their own football game.  Once we figured out that the “problem” was that both wanted to use the cars to play football, we spent five minutes trying to find a solution.  One child suggested that he should get all of the cars and the other child could play something else.  When I questioned whether it would solve the problem if the other child, instead, got all the cars, the first child said emphatically, “Mrs. Forst, why don’t you go inside [the classroom] and we’ll figure this out.”

Turns out they didn’t really need my help at all.  It seems that my presence simply prolonged the argument.  Two minutes later, they returned to the classroom.  They had solved their problem and decided to play the game together.  Again, I am reminded that children are a lot more capable than we give them credit for.  Luckily, they knew they could handle it.

 

On the Big Blue Sea

North West City

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.

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!

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!

What’s Gonna Work? Teamwork!

This week, the students became interested in a plank of wood that had been used as a part of the circuit on the nature playground. Our students decided to repurpose it and make a bridge on the large rocks. We spent many sessions working out how it could be used safely and problem-solving how to make it more stable for the students to walk on. Today, when the students ran outside to play with the “bridge” they realized that it had been moved to the ground by some of the older students. They immediately started trying to move it, but it appeared to be too heavy/large for just two students to move by themselves, so they began to enlist the other students from different sections of the playground to help.

teamwork

 

When more people showed up to help, they positioned themselves around the plank of wood, lifted it up, and started swiftly moving around the rocks. Once they got near the rock that they wanted the bridge, they had to figure out how to  maneuver the plank without squashing anyone who happened to be on the other side. With some trail and error, a decent amount of determination, and a little bit of communication they had solved their problem! Not only did they get the bridge back into place, but they were able to stabilize their bridge so that students could safely walk across.

 

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