Saturday, April 26, 2014

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

We had a wonderful time at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts this past week.  Our goal was to see pieces that featured all our animal groups and represented all the continents we have learned about this year--an integration of science, social studies and the fine arts.
A fish vessel from Peru
A fascinating (and large) piece--a lobster coffin from Africa

Students beginning the scavenger hunt for animals--finding buffalo on a Native American textile

Each group has a clipboard to record how many of each animal group they found--by far, mammals were the winner!  Birds came in second, following by insects and fish.
Of course, the MIA is full of sculptures, painting, photographs, textiles, pottery and more to be appreciated.  One of our students took a moment to connect with the "sacred" exhibit.

We wrote in our science journals about our personal favorites.

The last piece we looked at as a class was the samurai armor from Japan.  It featured a praying mantis on the helmet!  I tried to take a picture, but it turned out badly.  Here's a much better picture from the MIA.
The Japanese samurai helmet was the inspiration for a certain Star Wars villain--can you guess which one? 

Earth Week Part II

To help us think about an important part of the 3 Rs--Reduce, Reuse, Recycle-- we took advantage of the spring sunshine and did a water experiment on the playground.  Each child worked with a partner to try to clean some dirty water using various tools.  Our goals were to discover what tools worked, and to think about the difficulty of cleaning water once it gets dirty.  All the different pollutants were child-safe but still helped us think about clean water versus dirty water.

Trying to clean water polluted with glitter

One student noted "The glitter is coming out, but it's hard!"

Trying to clean out dirt from water

Trying to clean water polluted with globs of glue

Shaving cream and water
Each pair tried to clean their polluted water with oral syringes, sponge brushes, paintbrushes and spoons.  After the experiment, the students recorded what tools worked, and made observations of what their water looks like before and after the pollution.

At circle time, we thought about the polluted water and determined a few things.  First, nobody wants to drink dirty water!  A few children thought that if we want to have clean water, we can reduce the water we use so there is more clean water.  We learned that it is definitely hard to try to clean water once it's dirty!
Thursday, April 24, 2014

Earth Week

We began our Earth Week celebration this week with the song and story I Love the Mountains.  Each child created a layer book entitled "I Am Thankful For..." similar to the read aloud.

A wonderful book that inspired our paper collage book
After creating our books, we came together with the other classes to sing our song and scatter grass seed on the playground.  Check here for a Discovery Channel version of our song.

We also explored what the it really means to be kind to the earth.  This book really captured what our world would look like if we kept making lots of garbage.
Everyone thought about all the little things we could do during the day to help.  Here is our song about the 3Rs!

We started a tally to see how many times we reduce, reuse and recycle during the day.  It was also useful to help us think about the differences between reusing things, like a piece of paper, recycling things (like our milk cartons), and reducing usage, like using less water when washing our hands.  Here is our tally at the end of the day on Tuesday!
Check back for an updated tally over the weekend--by the end of the day on Thursday we had 37 tallies (but I forgot to snap a picture of it!).

Time for Kids has some great information and lots of ideas as well for continuing the conversation!
Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Easter Bunny's Assistant

We read about the traditions of Easter and celebrated with the adorable book by Jan Thomas, The Easter Bunny's Assistant

As a tie-in with our persuasive writing unit in Writer's Workshop, each child completed a "job application" to be an assistant to the Easter Bunny, and had to list several compelling reasons why they would be good for the job. 

Some of the qualifications included "I am really good at hiding eggs" and "I can sort jelly beans."
Each child had to demonstrate their hopping skills and record their best hopping distance.  Wow, our students can hop!  The record in the class was 49 inches!

The last part of the application was fingerprinting--the students were surprised that teachers get their fingerprints taken too for their licenses!

During our math stations this week, we had the "egg-tastic" money count as well.  Each egg had coins in it and the students used their money sense to record the amount in each egg.

Kindness with Horton Hears a Who

Mrs. Heurung, our lower school counselor, came to visit Thursday to talk to us about kindness.  She taught the children a song:

K-I-N-D that spells kind 
Kindness for our friends
Kindness for our families
Let's be kind!"

Each child shared and wrote about how they are kind at home or at school.  One child even wrote about how he entertains preschoolers on the bus and keeps them from being bored.
A student showing her illustration and writing of how she is kind.

Monday, April 14, 2014


As we hope for spring to rear its head (again) with some warmer weather, we began thinking about the three important days coming up on our calendar: Passover, Easter, and Earth Day.  Today we talked about the story and traditions of Passover that we learned in chapel last week.  We sang "The Frog Song" too (check it out here) and read Happy Passover, Rosie.

Since we loved the Frog Song, we had to make frogs!  Since we began exploring the difference between 2D and 3D shapes this spring, what better way to make frogs than to turn 2D paper into 3D frogs through origami?

It took over eight steps to make them--what patience and follow-through!
Our origami frogs were hoppin' all around!
If you interested in more crafts or activities for children around Passover, you can find the origami idea and more here.

We got a delightful surprise at the end of the day--two lower school students offered to read our silly Passover story The Matzoh Ball Boy.  

Our guest readers and their attentive audience

We haven't finished the story yet, so don't tell us what happened!  Many of the children noticed a certain similarity to the Gingerbread Man stories.  We'll see...

Word Building

Each week this spring, the students have worked in stations to independently build words using short and long vowel sounds.  We are almost done with our exploration of long vowel sounds!
Creating sentences from word and letter tiles

Reading words to ourselves with the stretchy whisper-phones.  A great way to hear the different sounds in words!

Building matching long o words with different vowel combinations with Montessori Words and Phonics

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Math Games and Fluency

We played lots of math games in the last few weeks and began exploring a question or number of the day.  One of our goals in kindergarten is fluency with addition/subtraction through sums of 5 and ten, if a child is ready to do so.  We often think of fluency as speed and accuracy, but it also means utilizing strategies to solve problems as well for meaningful understanding.  It means that our students should have a variety of ways to solve a problem and show they understand the solution.

A particularly popular game in our room is our new version of "rock, paper, scissors" called "I love math!"  The game can be played a few different ways, but here our students are working on naming math sums--each child sits across from a partner and chants "I love math" while throwing out a number of fingers on one or two hands.  The first child to name the correct sum of both partners' fingers wins!

For another great website to practice math fluency at home, check out Turtle Diary's math games here. Their first grade page also provides some math challenges!

On a separate note, one of our students loved sharing her drawing of our mascot!  What a great Mustang!