Today, our students traveled to the City Campus to meet Jason Chin, an author/illustrator of non-fiction pictures books. He read his book Gravity and talked about how he came up with the idea for the story and how it evolved over time. We also got a chance to see him do a quick drawing of some of the items from the book. After we spent some time with our visiting author, the Pre-K students got to meet up with their city counterparts for some exploring of their playground and playing with old and new friends.
Such a lovely day, why don’t we meet with our Book Buddies outside?
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.
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.
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.
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!
We met with our fourth grade book buddies for the first time today. This year, Mrs. Ferguson (the Fourth Grade teacher) and I are hoping to get together at least once every six day cycle. Right now, we’re are scheduled to meet on Day 2.
This tradition is held very dear here at WTN. All of our grades have reading buddies. The elder children get the opportunity to model literacy and be a mentor for the little ones. The younger buddies love having the one-on-one attention.
We introduced our listening center last week. It’s an antiquated, child-friendly, audio-tape player. The children love the independence of being able to listen to a story by themselves. After a ten minute explanation about the “play” and “stop” button and how to care for the headphones, we sent a small group off to listen to “The Three Billy Goats Gruff.”
None of the buttons worked! The power was on, the tape was happily in the machine, but the wheels wouldn’t turn. No playing, no fast forward, no story. Well, as they say, when life give you lemons….
We found the same book read-aloud on YouTube, but we wanted to make the experience special since they’d lost the use of the headphones. Enter the mini-theater.
It’s not so quaint as an audio-tape player, but they seemed to like it.
This week our students had a chance to meet their fourth grade buddies today! Each child was paired up with either one or two fourth grade students and they had some time to look at books and read together. We will get together with our buddies several times throughout the year to read stories, play games, and interact on the playground. We also will be sitting with our buddies during the Thanksgiving Feast next Tuesday. The bonds that are created during this time last throughout each child’s WT school career and become some of their fondest memories.
After our buddies returned to their classroom, the Pre-K wrote about their favorite part of the experience in their journals. These were their responses.