Today in Art class, the students learned about the artist Michelangelo and his work. They read a story about his life and how he sculpted a number of very famous pieces that people travel all around the world to see. They also learned about when he painted the Sistine Chapel and how he had to paint laying down on scaffolding as he covered the entire ceiling with beautiful scenes from the heavens. It was great deal of hard work but the result was a masterpiece.
The pre-k got a chance to create some of their own masterpieces just like Michelangelo did so many years ago.
Yesterday, we took a trip inside our blood to learn about it’s composition. We put our items in the middle of our circle and explained that each of these items represent something that lives in our blood. We started with the large container of yellow water, which we were pretending was our plasma. We explained that plasma is a watery like substance that makes up large portion of our blood. At first, some students were not sure how it could be in our blood because it was not red, which lead us to our second ingredient: red blood cells!
We then added our red blood cells (red water beads) to our blood mixture. The students noticed that the more we added the red blood cells, the more the mixture appeared to be red than yellow. Because of this observation, they concluded that our blood looks red because of red blood cells.
Next on the list were the white blood cells (white beads). We then discussed how our white blood cells are the “soldiers” of our bodies that are always working to keep us from getting sick and help your body get better when you do have a cold or the flu.
Lastly, we discussed how our blood needs platelets (blue pom-poms) because they help our bodies create new skin or scabs when your skin is cut. Each child scoured their bodies for an old boo boo that they could share with the class and naturally they all had an elaborate story to go along with them.
Now that our students have spent some time learning about the composition of our blood, it’s time to learn about how the blood moves throughout our bodies. Bring on the giant, tape, floor heart! Hint: here’s what it looked like last year!
Sometimes it is the simplest things that brings joy to our lives. Watching a young child discover the properties of falling water fills me with joy. The wonder and inquiry that is involved is like no other. Somewhere along the way adults lose that wonder, until a child comes along and forces us to see the world through a fresh set of eyes.
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!
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!
Today, we introduced the students to a new chapter of Forest Fours by implementing a writing component to our day. Each child received a special journal that travels with us while on the trails. The students are allowed to draw pictures of the games that they are playing, the structures they build, or the specimens they see while out in nature (fungus, birds, rocks, deer, etc.). They also are allowed to collect things like leaves or small pieces of moss and tape them into their journals for safe keeping.
In addition to the journals, we borrowed four Polaroid cameras from Mrs. Weber so that the students can take pictures of items that would be too big to fit in their journals. The pictures are then taped onto a page and the students write about what they observed. The journals will travel with us each time we venture into the woods and the children are allowed to fill their journals to their heart’s content whenever they deem it necessary.
Since it’s inception, our class has used Forest Four days to play in an unstructured setting so that they could explore and create at their will. The addition of the forest journals allows students to extend their learning by giving them the opportunity to write, even while outdoors. Through this activity, the students are practicing skills such as fine motor development, phonemic awareness, self-regulation, observation, categorization, identification, and much more. We look forward to sharing our journal entries with you in the future!
“I took a picture.”
This week, we had the opportunity to introduce the Fairy Tale Trail to the Pre-K students. It is one of our smaller trails, but has been beautifully embellished with a variety of whimsical decorations from the older students. Today, we were able to spend an extended period of time exploring the ins and outs of the Fairy Tale Trail on our Forest Fours day. It didn’t take long before the children made an exciting discovery! Someone had taken three of my painted “Story Stone” houses (that were meant for the small world table) and placed them on the Fairy Tale Trail! They naturally thought that I had placed them there but after learning that I had nothing to do with it, they had decided that fairies must have used their magic to put them on the trail and turn them into fairy houses. Fairy magic is some pretty amazing stuff!
Now, they are commissioning me to make more fairy houses that can live on the trail. After all, winter is coming and every fairy needs a place to live. So don’t be surprised if you show up to school only to find me stealing rocks from the playground or covered in paint in the classroom. It’s messy job but someone’s gotta do it!