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.