Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wind Week I

Wind Week I is the first of two Science-based weeks that will provide the children with daily opportunities to explore and experiment with the concept of Wind.  We began with a group conversation that yielded our working definition; "wind is air that is moving".  Next we talked about our own wind power, and moved on to exploring hand-held and electric fans.  

As the photos illustrate, we continued moving air and creating wind all week long!  We blew our wind through a straw and predicted which objects we would be able to move off the block.

We used our wind power to move colored water, and in the process we created new colors!

We brought our wind theme to the art table as we made kites.

Perhaps the most fun of all was using our wind power to blow bubbles at the water table all week long!

Happy Birthday to Cameron who celebrated his 4th birthday with us this week!

Thank you to Kyle's mom, Erica, for coming in as our Guest Reader!

Looking Deeper:  Exploration and Learning through Play
Let's take a closer look at the practice of "drawing on the children's prior knowledge" 
as a vehicle for building an understanding of new concepts.

Drawing on a child's prior knowledge is an excellent teaching technique for building an understanding of new concepts.  As our school year has progressed and we have moved through our various themes the children  have routinely used information to develop concepts.  This was very evident during our Doctor Theme as the children were able to both comprehend and explain in basic terms the function of their brain, heart and lungs.  This week, we "drew on that prior knowledge" as we began our conversation about "Wind".  As I mentioned, we began with the working definition that wind is air that is moving.  That definition was illustrated and made concrete to the children when they actually moved air and created wind in a variety of ways.  We began with our breath. I asked the children; "Who remembers what part of our body breathes air in and out?"  They were all able to draw on their prior knowledge and respond, "our lungs!"  I continued;  "Let's take some air from the room, put it in our lungs, then move it very fast out of our mouths and see if we can make some wind!"  The children were excited to do so.  The next step was to see if we could move things with the "wind power" created by our lungs and breath.  We began with pinwheels, and then moved on to a wide variety of other objects throughout the week.  Drawing on the children's prior knowledge to begin our study of wind, enabled them to transfer an understood concept about their lungs and use it to illustrate an abstract concept such as wind in very concrete way.  An exercise such as this not only gives evidence of learning, but it also expands upon and gives an important function to that learning.  Furthermore, it expands the depth, breadth and creativity of the children's higher level thinking skills! 

Have a fun and restful weekend!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Doctor Week II!

Doctor's Office Week II facilitated a deepening and broadening of the concepts discussed last week.  The children have consistently built upon their strong foundational understanding of how their bodies work, and how best to stay healthy.  This knowledge and understanding has been broadened to include a fundamental understanding of their Brain and Heart, as well as their Skeletal structure and Digestive System.  Your child should be able to provide basic answers to some of the following questions:  What is the boss of your body?  What is the name of the bone that protects your brain?  What does your heart do?  What goes in and out of your lungs? What is the name of the bones that protect your heart?  What happens to an apple or a banana when you eat and swallow it!  What are the five senses?  We have read books about all of these concepts, discussed them, and played games that concretely illustrated them.  Additionally, the children have routinely used the accurate terms for the doctor's instruments within their play this week, and were able to explain the function of each of these instruments.  Most importantly, they were delighted to apply their "expertise" as they doctored within our Pre-K Clinic.  The fun and excitement within the classroom was palpable as the children gave check-ups and lots of "shots" to all of our "walk-in patients"!  

Many thanks Cameron's mom, Dr. Krista, for coming in to talk with the children about her work as a Pediatrician.  The children were very interested in and enriched by all that she shared with them. 

Looking Deeper:  Exploration and Learning through Play
Let's take a closer look at the important functions of our Pre-K Three Clinic.

Our Pre-K Clinic is a "Signature Experience" of our "Doctor's Office" theme.  The children are so proud and excited to share their "medical expertise" with parents, buddies and other Parker community members! Our Clinic is also an "authentic assessment tool" of learning.  During clinic time,  the children utilize and demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have acquired within the Doctor's Office theme.  Utilizing this information and skill in the Clinic solidifies the children's understanding and demonstrates their mastery of  terms, information and skills!  Additionally, the children are empowered, and experience a significant sense of competency as they assume a position of leadership in their interactions with people who are very important to them.  Above and beyond the stellar health care you received, it was a delight to have parents and other family members enter into the "magic" of our medical role playing!  Many thanks to all of you who were able to join us in our Pre-K Clinic this week!

Have a fun and restful weekend!