Playful Directions

Mrs. Forst's Pre-Kindergarten Blog

On the Big Blue Sea

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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.


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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!


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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!


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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.

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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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See Saw Science

Some days we are delighted to find that the students latch onto an idea or hypothesis and just run with it. Today, we were lucky enough to have one of our parents volunteer to read a story called Just A Little Bit by Ann Tompert that involved an elephant and a see saw. The whole book, the elephant tries to play on the see saw, but it just won’t work. He’s too big. Many animals try to come to the rescue by piling on the other side of the see saw but nothing happens. Nothing seems to work until a beetle lands on the animal group and the elephant finally gets to pop up in the air on the other side.

We talked about how this book teaches us about science and that we’re all really scientists. We do science experiments every day without even realizing. When you tell a silly joke and your friend doesn’t laugh, that’s an experiment. When you try a new food that you’re sure is going be disgusting and it’s actually delicious, that’s an experiment. When you launch yourself off the couch and land on your brother, that’s an experiment. (Let’s be honest, some experiments are safer than others.) Sometimes the experiment works and sometimes it doesn’t. What is most important is to ask “why?”. Why didn’t it work? What went wrong? How can you fix it?

Once the story was over, the students jumped at the chance to build their own see saws with our outdoor blocks. Many of the students started on a smaller scale with just one block as the base, while other’s were determined to make their see saws higher. After lots of tinkering and testing, it was decided that the higher see saws were not quite as safe and so we down-graded the amount of blocks that were being used. Some children added the colorful blocks to act as handles, while others used them as a weight so that they could try to see saw by themselves. Even Mrs. Forst joined in on the see saw fun!

There’s nothing better than a recess full of problem solving and physics.

 


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The Food Mystery

In honor of our Pre-K Movie Premiere that will take place later tonight, we would like to present our final draft of our script entitled The Food Mystery. We actually had a total of 8 drafts but after the first three or four writing sessions it was pretty obvious that the story stayed exactly the same and only their characters changed. You’ll notice that in this version, there are not any copyrighted characters such as Iron Man or Cinderella. We explained to the students that it is important to come up with our own ideas and characters because otherwise, we are just stealing someone else’s idea. With some coaxing, and lots of trying out different ideas, we ended up with some pretty amazing characters.

Enjoy!

 

The Food Mystery

(March 11, 2016)
L.W. – a giant named Boxy
Z.W. – fisherman
A.H. – Policeman named John
C.S. – a princess
R.F. – a floating cloud
K.H. – a giant mouth that can walk
A.G. – a parrot
K.V. – a horse
M.H. – a building robot
S.S. – a witch
N.P. – spell Witch

House 1

(L.W.,  Z.W., A.G., and K.H.)
Once upon a time a giant named Boxy wanted to play a game so he invited a fisherman to come and play, “Fisherman, let’s go play some crazy games,”, and the fisherman invited a parrot, “Parrot come play,” and the parrot says, “Squawk, squawk,”.
They played the game for a long time and then they decided to stop for a snack.
The parrot says, “Let’s stop and eat some French fries and water, Squawk.”
Just then a giant mouth sneaks in and whispers to herself, “Ooh, those french fries sure do look yummy. Maybe I’ll just have a few,” and then eats a bunch of their food and then runs before anyone can see her.

They turn around and shout, “Where’s our food!?!”
The Boxy says, “Where are our french fries and water?”
The fisherman says, “I’m hungry!”
The Parrot says, “Squawk, The only thing that is left is a potato, squawk.”
They try to share the potato but it’s not very big.
The giant says, “I need more food, I’m still hungry.”

House 2

(M.H., A.H., S.S., C.S., and K.H.)
In the next house a princess, a robot, a police officer, and a witch all live together.
Everyone was having a dance party.
The princess says, “Let’s stop and have some pancakes and cupcakes.”
But before they could sit down and eat, the giant mouth, sneaks in and says, “Those cupcakes and pancakes look pretty good! Maybe I’ll just have a few!” but she accidentally eats all of the food and so she runs away before anyone could see her.
The witch says, “What!?! There’s no food!”
The robot says, “It’s a mystery! Who took our food?”
Then the robot walks out of the house and starts looking to see if he can solve the mystery. He looks outside and notices that there is a trail of crumbs on the ground. He runs back inside and is breathing hard and he says, “There are pancake crumbs outside. Let’s get our magnifying glasses!”
So they all run and get their magnifying glasses.

Just then, the phone rings. The princess answers it.
Princess: “Hello.”
Fisherman: “Hey somebody ate our food!”
Princess: “Somebody ate our food too! We found a trail of crumbs. Want to come search with us?”
Fisherman: “Sure!”
Princess: “I don’t know where it leads to, but let’s go.”

House 3

(N.P., K.H., K.V., and R.F.)
The spell witch lives by herself with her horse Majesty and her magical flouting cloud. All the sudden, Majesty sees a giant mouth trying to steal her food and she says, “Neigh, neigh!” and then spell witch and cloud see the mouth too.

The flouting cloud rushes to the spell witch and says, “Use your wand to get the giant mouth!”
The Spell Witch uses her magic wand and says, “Come here!” to make the mouth come closer. The mouth tries to run away but the spell witch locks up her house and she says, “Bibbidy bobbidi boo!” so she can’t leave. Then she says, “Lock up the food now, wand and stay forever, giant mouth!” to make the mouth want to stay in her house forever.

Just then, group of friends follow the trail of crumb and it leads right to the Spell Witch’s house.
The robot says, “One of you ate our food. Who was it?”
The spell witch says, “It was this giant mouth and she tried to eat my food too!”
The regular witch says, “AHA! I solved the mystery, it was the mouth that ate our food!”
Police officer John says, “That wasn’t nice. Please don’t eat our food again!”
The giant mouth says, “Ok, I’m sorry. I just didn’t have any food.”
The spell witch uses her magic wand to make a new house with a refrigerator for the mouth to live in.
Policeman John says, “Let’s all have a dance party!”

And they lived happily ever after.
The End.