After attending the grade 6&7 musical instrument symposium our Kindergarten class started asking if they could work with these students to create their own musical instruments. This provided us with a wonderful opportunity to build community in our school and work on a special project for our Kindergarten yard. Last week for the first time, the grade 6&7 students gathered to start working on a music wall. As they took turns rotating through centres and building together it worked to strengthen our community as the students got to know each other in a meaningful way.
Later in the week, all of the Mountview classes gathered together for the first time to rehearse the finale for our school concert. As they did so we started to look at how music can bring us together as a community over the holiday season and throughout the year. This led to student talk around holidays, traditions, ceremonies and memorials that they experienced throughout the year. During this study, we started to look at one holiday that some of our students celebrate in December. This celebration was Hanukkah.
Students listened to books to understand the tradition and celebrations surrounding Hanukkah. They learned that Hanukah is also referred to as The Festival of Lights. The students learned that more than 2,000 years ago, the Jewish people fought against an enemy who would not allow them to practice their religious traditions. Their enemy destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, which contained many holy objects including a sacred lamp called the menorah. One small band of people, called the Maccabees fought their enemies and won. When they returned to the Temple in Jerusalem the first thing they did was restore the sacred lamp. But there was almost no oil left -- only enough for one day. The lamp was filled with this oil and lit. Instead of lasting only one day, it burned brighter, and brighter, lasting eight days. This was considered a miracle!
During our daily math routine, the students continued to study 2D & 3D shapes. At one centre they were given the opportunity to make menorahs and the Star of David using pattern blocks. After being introduced to a dreidel game, some students participated in the STEM challenge of building a spinning dreidel with connecting cubes. They then counted how many cubes they used.
As a sensory & math activity, the students looked at different symbols of Hanukkah and used hollow dreidels to explore capacity. After learning that Hanukkah lasts 8 nights they were able to use loose parts to build pretend candles and represent numbers from 1-8 on a tens frame.
Students also had the chance to examine a menorah. After they learned that a menorah has 9 candles they were able to examine a menorah and make one out of plates, paint and clothespins.
After studying how animals adapt to the changing seasons, the students were curious about why we have different seasons. We started researching this topic together. In our first mini lesson, the students learned that the earth travels around the sun. The sun spins on its axis once every 24 hours. By spinning this way, we experience day and night. The students also learned that the earth makes one complete trip around the sun every year. One student shared that he had experienced this trip 4 times in his life! The students learned that the earth is on a tilt of 32 degrees. As it travels around the sun when it is most tilted towards the sun we experience summer and when the area where we live is most tilted away from the sun we have winter. The students had the opportunity to pretend to be the sun and use a flashlight to create day and night. Some students tilted their bodies as they acted as the earth and traveled around the sun to create the different seasons.
In our sensory bins the students had the chance to play with a mini solar system. One student was overheard dropping a marble and explaining to another student how the reason this marble dropped was because of a force called gravity. This pulls all things in the atmosphere to the earth. In this kinesthetic play the students were also introduced to the concept of 3D solids. They learned that the shape of the earth was called a sphere.
As we collectively made our weekly batch of playdough the students had the opportunity to study the surface of the earth. As they have been learning our continents song for the past couple of weeks they reviewed the idea that the land on earth was divided into 7 continents. They built the water around these continents with our blue playdough.
To extend their knowledge of 3D solids the students learned a new math song called geometric shapes. They were introduced to the attributes of the following shapes: a sphere, a cube, a cylinder, a cone, a pyramid and a rectangular and triangular prism. Students were given the opportunity to explore these shapes by building them out of marshmallows and toothpicks. They explored cubes in our base-ten blocks and practiced their counting skills.
Students also played with 3D solids during building time. They made ramps and towers for different spheres such as marbles and wooden balls.
Upon finding animal tracks in the snow the students began to question how the animals who did not hibernate or migrate for the winter managed to survive the cold. They also wondered which animals stayed active in the winter. Felicity the fairy left us pictures of different animal tracks. As a weekly recipe the students worked together to make salt dough. Using potato stamps, playdough tools and toy bird feet the students had the chance to make their own animal tracks in the snow.
During one daily game show lesson, the students learned that some birds such as cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, and woodpeckers stay in Toronto for the winter. They learned how the birds survived the cold by growing extra feathers, fluffing out their feathers and snuggling together. The students also learned that because food can be scarce for birds in the winter as the seeds, tree nuts and berries may be harder to find, we can help them by making bird feeders. Many students loved designing and then making their own bird feeders.
Students also had a chance to play with this theme in a kinesthetic way with our themed playdough and sensory bins. It was neat overhearing the students go in role as birdies and explain to their friends how they stay warm in the winter time.
In math, students continued to look at 2D shapes by building birds with hexagons, rhombuses, parallelograms, triangles and squares. They also continued to look at symmetry by cutting out silhouettes of chickadees and cardinals. They also explored patterns and pattern cores.
cDuring our outdoor inquiry time the students noticed the leafy nests at the top of many of our school trees. At first they thought they belonged to birds. Together we learned that the dens were in fact built by squirrels as a winter den. They learned that in the fall squirrels store/hoard a lot of food and bury it in different holes in trees and underground. They also bulk up and store fat inside of their body. This is so they can spend much of the winter snuggling up to their squirrel friends in their dens and keeping warm. Squirrels sleep long stretches and then get up to eat. When they are very cold they shiver, which helps bring up their body's temperature. Students acted this out while we are outside and cuddled-up to their friends. They also played throughout the week with squirrel Calico Critter characters.
Our week started off so beautifully. Last week, the students learned the song, "I Will Remember You." They sang this song to our hesistant hibernating animals. The students wanted to reassure them that they would remember them even though they were going off to their snowy dens to hibernate for the winter. On Monday, the students sang this song at our Rememberance Day Assembly. This was a wonderful community building assembly as the pre-school, elementary school and high school gathered together. After talking about what peace means to them, the students examined a heart. They learned that a heart is symmetrical. When we made our weekly batch of playdough, the students experimented with different heart shapes and symmetry. This led them to create butterflies...and the questioning began. The students wanted to know how butterflies prepare for the winter.
Students learned that insects are cold-blooded. This means their blood takes the temperature of the air around them. If they went out in the cold and wintry air their blood would freeze! Insects such as Monarch Butterflies fly South when the winter approaches. We learned a song about the continents as an introduction to mapping so the students could examine the path taken by migrating creatures. The students also had the opportunity to make symmetrical artwork of butterflies.
Another animal that we studied that migrates South was the Canada Goose. While studying this animal we continued to look at the concept of symmetry. Students were given the opportunity to cut out silhouettes of geese. This helped with their fine motor skills and to solidify the concept of symmetry in a hands-on way. Students were also introduced to miras and shown how make symmetrical pictures with the 2D solids.
With the arrival of the first snowfall this week, the students naturally starting asking questions about what different creatures did to prepare for the winter. The students discussed how to get ready for winter, people put on more layers of clothes, wear coats, mittens, snow pants, hats and boots. They also turn on the heat. Our Kindergarten team asked students how animals get ready for winter. Through music, stories, drama and different activities the students learned that to prepare for winter some animals eat a lot of food so they can store a lot of fat. Animals such as bears, ladybugs, some bees, garter snakes, frogs and chipmunks hibernate. We learned that when they do this their breathing slows down and so does their heart-rate. During activity time the students had a lot of fun building caves for our classroom bears to hibernate in. They also used string, leaves and logs to build hibernating dens for frogs and bees who sleep underground. We learned that ladybugs hibernate together under logs or in curled up leaves.
At our sensory station, students got to use kinetic sand, cotton balls, pine cones, and cups to build snowy dens and caves for little bears. We made our weekly batch of play dough as a class and the students used it to create hibernating caves for the mini bears and other hibernating animals such as garter snakes.
After the students had built their creations, some took pictures of what they had built and then wrote about it for our Writer's Wall. Some used knowledge gained from daily lessons and stories to draw their own pictures and create a sentence to go with it.
After our daily letter and number lesson each day the students also had the opportunity to read to different hibernating animal stuffies. After introducing this once, they requested it each day.
Students also worked on hibernating animal inspired math activities this week. They reviewed the names of the 2D solids (square, triangle, rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoids & hexagons) and used them to make garter snake patterns. They also used different coloured bears to make patterns. When they completed these they were allowed to work on pattern bracelets. While looking at patterns the students also examined the pattern core which is the smallest part of the pattern that repeats over and over again. The students also were given the opportunity to weigh the bears as a measurement activity.
This week the students were interested in examining the pumpkins that were given to us by the farm last week. They worked as super scientists to describe to our classroom pumpkin all about its life cycle. The students explained to Peter the Pumpkin how he started off as a seed that held a tiny embryo inside. They explained in role how when its seed coat is softened by the rain and it is warmed by the sun it will begin to grow. The students explained to the pumpkin how first the seed would grow a shoot, then a plant. They also described how this plant would make its own food by taking in water, carbon dioxide and sunlight and turning it into oxygen and sugar. Next, the students explained how a yellow flower would grow on the pumpkin vine. Betty the bee came in to show the students how the flower was pollinated. When Betty the bee drinks nectar from the flower pollen sticks to her legs. When she flies to another flower she moves the pollen from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower. When she does this the flower becomes pollinated and a green pumpkin begins to grow. This finally turns into an orange pumpkin.
The students made pumpkin puppets. These pumpkins had a string which held the different parts of the pumpkin life cycle. Students had to sequence these events in order. They also worked on their fine motor skills by cutting each piece out.
Students also had the opportunity to decorate pumpkins and write about their pumpkins. They also worked on their fine motor and letter forming skills using playdough with a pumpkin theme.
Our math focus this week used pumpkins to explore many different concepts. Students made pumpkin faces with 2D solids and learned the names of different polygons including triangles, squares, hexagons, rhombuses and parallelograms. They also put our pumpkins in order from biggest to smallest. Another task consisted of weighing our pumpkins and estimating how many seeds were inside and then counting them. Students also practised writing their numbers to 20 during our daily math routine. In addition to having sensory opportunities while the students scooped out the pumpkins, students were also able to explore a pumpkin boat themed water table. They looked at properties such as how many objects they could put into each pumpkin to make it float or sink.
Halloween day was a fun one in our class! We were so lucky to have a ton of parent volunteers come in and help us run a series of centres throughout the day. Students had the chance to make Halloween themed soap. They also learned to sketch a pumpkin and make spooky bat artwork with Ms. Hyma. Another wonderful parent volunteer taught the students about The Day of the Dead. Students went on a Halloween parade around the school and enjoyed many treats. They even worked together to follow a recipe and make roasted pumpkin seeds.
This week the students had the opportunity to study plants in a wonderful hands on way. On our trip to the farm the students were able to pick organic produce from the ground themselves! In doing so, they had the opportunity to see the different parts of the plant up close (leaves, stem, flower and fruit).
At the farm, a teacher gave a presentation to the students on the life cycle of a pumpkin plant. The students continued to explore this cycle in class with a little help from some classroom characters. Sammy the seed came in and reminded the students that to grow he needed the sun to put him to the right temperature and rain to soften his seed coat. Then Sammy could use his food stored inside to grow a little plant. The students then learned that first the root grows out of the plant followed by a shoot. The roots take water to the plant. The leaves then use this water with sunlight and carbon dioxide to make sugar and oxygen. The students studied the process of photosynthesis through a beautiful art project and acting it out each day.
As sensory play the students had the opportunity to assemble flowers using kinetic sand and flower parts. As a group we made our weekly batch of playdough and the students were able assemble flowers using cookie cutters, leaves, buttons and pipe cleaner.
The students learned that at the end of the life cycle of a plant, seed form in the flower or seed pod of a plant. The students had the opportunity to play with seeds during our outdoor time. We hung the seed bird feeders that we made in class the week before.
As a fun activity at the end of the week, the students helped prepare a soup using all of the produce we had acquired at the farm. The students were able to help measure the ingredients and use scissors to help cut the cabbage for the soup. We also explored what the worms in our worm bin could and could not eat and fed them our vegetable scraps. When the soup was done we went into role and played restaurant. The students had the chance to be sous chefs, servers and even dishwashers. They found this very entertaining!
This week, following their interest on the topic of seeds, the students uncovered the characters Sammy the Seed, Rachel the Rain-cloud and Simon the Sun waiting for them in our mystery box. Similar to the students' questioning, Sammy the Seed was interested in what he needed in order to grow. He hoped the students could help teach him all about this topic. After conducting research through dramatic role play, the students learned that Sammy the seed had his own food store inside to grow. He also had a baby plant or embryo inside which needed the right conditions to sprout. The students learned that when Sammy was warmed to the right temperature with the sun and his seed coat was softened by the rain, the embryo could break through and start growing.
Students had the chance to make puppets to explain what their Seed needed to grow. They practiced using scissors, drawing faces, and gluing their puppets together and then went into role to perform for their friends. The students also practiced using the words, "first, then, next and finally," when retelling a series of events.
In our gardening centre, the students had the opportunity to assemble their own mini-green houses. Before they did this the students dissected a seed that had been soaking in water for 12 hours. As they opened the seed the students could clearly see the seed coat, the embryo and the food store inside.
As our recipe of the week, students worked to measure the ingredients for playdough. This activity also helped the students to work as a team and take turns as they waited patiently in circle as each person stirred the dough 3 times.
The students had a lot of fun playing with the seeds combined with the playdough!
The students also were able to incorporate the seeds into their artwork in a series of different art activities. They made beautiful mandalas out of seeds and also created sunflowers.
Students had a lot of fun playing in the seed sensory bin this week as well. The students also had the opportunity to make bird feeders out of seed during math centres time. Students followed a recipe and learned about fractions and shapes as we assembled these bird feeders.
Last week the students discovered an apple tree in our Kindergarten yard. This lead them to come up with a series of questions which in turn lead our inquiry unit this week on the life of an apple tree.
One of the first questions from the students was how the apple tree changed over the seasons. They knew from our inquiry last week about why the leaves changed colours but they wanted to see what an apple tree looked like throughout the different seasons.
The students learned through different stories and art projects what the trees looked like over the different seasons. When they had learned this some of the students decided to tell the trees outside what would happen to them over the seasons so they were not worried about these changes.
Studying apple trees gave us so many amazing opportunities to incorporate math into our day. The students graphed each morning their favourite type of apple and which season they preferred best for our apple tree.
The students also worked to sort apples by attribute and then make patterns with the apples. This week the students were introduced to the concept of a pattern core which is the smallest part of the pattern (like a stamp) that repeats over and over again. We also had fun as a whole group measuring each other with apples! In sampling our apples the students were also introduced to the concept of a whole, a half, thirds and quarters. This also extended into a writing activity where they wrote about their favourite apples.
The students also had the chance to play with loose parts to build apple trees and see how many apples (buttons and pompoms) they could balance on top of their structure.
Our sensory activities this week included making apples out of play dough with stems, leaves and worms! The students also created pretend apple crumble in the sensory bin.
This week Felicity the Fairy let us know that because we were so good at caring for living things in our classroom she wanted to bring us a little surprise...our very own tree. Felicity let us know that there was a new baby tree in our school yard that she wanted us to care for. She also brought a tiny tree to care for in our class. The Helper of the day will be in charge of watering our classroom tree and all of the students will be in charge of watering the tree outside daily during outdoor inquiry time. As the student examined our new gift outside their curiosity led them to develop new questions which helped to guide our inquiry. One student wanted to know why leaves changed colour in the fall. Another student wanted to know why the trees lose their leaves in the fall. We explored the theme of leaves changing colours in many kinethetic ways. During math time we followed a recipe and worked together to make leave themed playdough. We sorted the leaves by attributes as well.
To further explore this theme with our senses, the students had the opportunity to play with different coloured leaves, twigs and acorns in our sensory bin.
After we mixed red and yellow dye together in our playdough we discussed primary and secondary colours. Red and yellow are primary colours. They mix together to make orange which is a secondary colour. We further explored this theme during art and mathematics as we made calendars for October.
As we gathered leaves outside, students naturally wanted to sort them by attribute. We sorted them by colour, size and shape. When we had done this we looked at what a pattern is. After we sang a song about how a pattern is something that repeats the students started to make simple patterns during centres time.
The students read a lot of books on trees and their leaves. We also used a song about leaf pigments as our tidy-up song all week. They learned that leaves have a green pigment in them called chlorophyll. In the summer the tree uses the chlorophyll along with water and sunlight to make food for the plant. In the fall, deciduous trees stop making food and go to sleep. They stop making chlorophyll and other pigments hidden under the chlorophyll such as carotenoids (that give leaves their red and yellow pigments) can now be seen. We went on a walk to the principal's office and gave all the staff there a little lecture on the pigments in the leaves. We also gave them one of the fairy gardens so they could be reminded of the green pigment chlorophyll.
As a conclusion to our inquiry on leaves this week something magical happened in our classroom. We found that the lettuce stalk we put in the snail habitat sprouted again!!! What a wonderful way to end the week!