On the day we went to sea….

Our studies have taken a new direction.  The other day, we noticed that some sharks were swimming around our boat.  Luckily, they were nice sharks and didn’t bite anyone.  However, it became apparent that the children maintained an interest in all things ocean.  One child suggested that we needed to make our room into an ocean using paper hanging from the ceiling.blobfish

Beginning our research with some non-fiction seemed like an appropriate idea.  Unfortunately, Blobfish appears to have written all over our Deep Sea Book.  Oh well, nonetheless, we were able to glean some interesting tidbits about the Hadalpelagic Zone.

***Ask your child about the size of the Giant Spider Crab or the light on the front of an anglerfish. See if they can find anything in your house that is bioluminescent. ****

The barnacles of information that stuck:

“I never knew a squid could grow and I never even knew this animal was in the world.”

“[A submersible]…goes under water.”

“That kind of fish can open it’s mouth really wide.  And this octopus glows.”

“I learned that fish light up in the dark”

“I learned that fish can glow.”

“Blobfish swam.”


Fur and Feathers

The most recent trains of thought have been driving in diverse directions. About half of the children regularly play “Koala” during outdoor classroom and morning choice. In the beginning, the koalas frequently threw themselves into battle, fighting the invisible and unwitting foe. However, soon the children discovered (yes, there was a bit of coaching here) that koalas are actually rather peaceful creatures. A few of the attacking koalas were babies, so the game moved to “keep a baby koala on your back [walking with someone walking behind you] and keep it safe.” That’s what Mama koalas do, right?

The other half is obsessed with “Puffins.” These puffins are lovingly re-created each morning using paper, tongue depressors and lots and lots of glue. Puffins appeared in the building area, in the loft, at the light table, and outside the classroom. We aren’t sure how much information our children actually have about puffins, but we are certainly curious to find out.

Here are the tidbits of prior knowledge that we collected today when the children were asked:

What do you know about koalas or puffins?

  • Koalas climb trees. -KV
  • Puffins climb trees, too. -CS
  • Puffins are black and white. -MH
  • Koalas hug the trees and use their feet and hands to climb. -AH
  • Koalas sleep for half and hour in a tree. -KH
  • Koalas sleep at night in trees of bamboo. -WS
  • Koalas look for food in trees, like apples. -LZ
  • Puffins are white. -NP
  • Puffins have wings that are black and they have orange feet.  They don’t have claws. -AG
  • Puffins fly. -RF
  • Koalas usually stay up in trees and eat leaves. -LW
  • Puffins sometimes go in rabbit holes. -ZW
  • Koalas live in snow. -SS

Now that we have some ideas about these two creatures, we’ll begin crafting some questions to learn more.

The Bamboo Forest

If you’ve never been in our room in the morning, you might not know of the obsession our class has with pandas. Everyday, pandas are running amok in our loft.  Baby pandas are sleeping, eating and cuddling all morning long. We’ve had pandas star in our journal entries and outdoor play.  We even made a connection with Miss Smith, our Mandarin teacher, when she brought her panda, Meng Meng.

We learned to greet a panda:

[wpvideo iKJd7dHM]

And have been discussing their not-so-varied diet: Bamboo!

Our disheveled loft decorations took a turn for the worse earlier this week and needed to be recycled, so it was looking a little bare (please forgive the pun.)  After looking at the railings for a while, someone noticed that they looked a little bit like a panda’s favorite food.  The only parts that were missing were the leaves.

With the help of a few images culled from Google, leaves quickly began sprouting from our bamboo.  An eager group of scissor wielding leaf designers began a production line of greenery.

111314_6639Branches were designed using pipe cleaners.  All additions were attached using our favorite fixative: tape!  Almost the entire class volunteered for this project.  With so many different jobs to be done, spreading out the work was a cinch.  The largest obstacle we faced was time.  Before we knew it, snack time was upon us.  The children helped me make a “To Do” list to help us continue the project another day.  It contains some curious tasks, but we’ll see how it all shakes out as we go along.

To Do:

  • Panda Food
  • Make a Panda
  • Hang More Leaves
  • Make a Panda Pinata
  • Panda Water
  • Panda Vegetables
  • Panda Bed

As we cleaned up a collection of tiny, green paper slivers began to coalesce. A few students wondered if we could use them for panda food.  I immediately had visions of tiny, green snowflakes raining down all over the classroom, coating the carpet.

Umm, maybe we could find another way to use them as food.

We tried an experiment.  Take one part tiny paper slivers and one part Mod Podge, mix them up gently with your fingers and let them dry on waxed paper over night.  The next morning, you will have a lovely, stay-in-one-place panda meal. It worked perfectly.




Kate Messner visits WT

On Monday, all of the North Hills Campus traveled to the city campus to hear Kate Messner speak about her journey as a writer. She talked to the students about how different experiences in her life have inspired her to write some of her most beloved books. The idea for Seamonster’s First Day was written when her son saw something large that was floating in the lake near their home. Her son asked what the object could be, as it appeared to be swimming in the water. This got Kate thinking. What if it were a sea monster? What might a sea monster’s life be like?


She also discussed how she researches the material for her stories by trying to experience the events for herself first. When she was writing Marty McGuire, she actually kissed a real frog just as Marty does in the story. She explained that, while it may seem strange, this process helps her to fully embody the moment and she is able to then tell a more descriptive story.


After the presentation was over, we paired up with our city Pre-k buddies to color and assemble our sea monster hats, enjoy a small snack, and hear the story of Seamonster’s First Day. Before we knew it, it was time to get back on the  bus and head back to school. It was an excited and fun-filled day!

Dinosaur Research

Dinosaur Research in Pre-K at WTFinishing up our last week of dinosaur study, many children are still collecting data about their personal research choices.  They are choosing facts that they find interesting to write about in their journals.  Some of the children have taken to this activity with gusto, writing new facts a few times a week.  Others become interested when they see their friends writing about their dinosaurs.

This project has a few exciting by-products.  The children are finding out that books contain much more than simply stories.  Sometimes it comes as a surprise that anything you want to know about can be found in a book.  (Many children are sure that most of the information that is available comes from the computer!)  We are also provided with the opportunity to explore indexes, table of contents, and glossaries in an authentic way.  Later, when we collect information from each child’s study and create a compilation of information, the children will experience the joy of being the “expert” in their own research.

Our Dinosaur Adventure

Our trip to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History went very well. We began our visit in the Bonehunters Quarry where we donned goggles and used chisels to carefully reveal fossils buried beneath the dirt.  The children were excited when they realized that they could identify a couple of skulls, some teeth, and even a long set of what might be neck bones.  We learned that paleontologists must be very gentle with the fossils as they unearth them.  Broken fossils are not nearly as easy to work with as intact ones.

Following our digging expedition, we meandered over to the main dinosaur exhibit.  Our first stop was in a section devoted to extinct underwater creatures.  We looked everywhere, but could not find an example of R.’s Dinichthys.  We did, however, find some models that looked as though might be relatives of his research choice.

Before entering the main dinosaur area, we climbed the stairs to the overlook.  From here, we had an excellent view of the sauropods and other dinos below.  When we returned downstairs, the class was surprised to find how large the models were.  The Diplodocus was so long, we decided to try to measure it.  Walking together, we discovered that it is 60 “steps” long from tail-tip to nose.  Now we just need to walk that distance on the play ground to get a better idea of how it would fit in our space here at North.  There were two Tyrannosauruses for our “soon-to-be” experts to examine.  We did not find a Velociraptor, but we did see an Allosaurus, another type of carnivore.  The Stegosaurus and the Triceratops  were not quite as large as the children expected even though they were still large.  In one of the images below, you’ll see me holding up a student next to a Diplodocus femur.  We compared the length of each of the children with this bone and figured out where our own femurs are located.

On our way out of the dinosaur exhibit, we stopped for a while to view the current work of the paleontologists inside their laboratory.  It was interesting to see these workers in action.  Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what grown up jobs really look like.

Our plan is to bring the experience back to our classroom as we begin our Dinosaur Research Journals.  Today we discussed what a journal is used for (“a place to draw pictures so that you remember stuff” – A) and what research is (“finding out things you want to know” – S).