Thursday, December 14, 2017

Winter Week II & III

Winter Weeks II & III brought continued "snow production"  at our art table! 

We continued to read, discuss and enjoy Winter story books, and "snowman" songs were sung daily! 

Most importantly, we began the process of making Piñatas for our Piñata Party!
So far we have blown up the balloons.

Put on the first coat using newspaper.

And put on the second coat using news print.

We happily seized the opportunity to play outdoors in the Fresh fallen snow of "Winter"!

Divertido con Espanol / Fun with Spanish
Senora Jen joined in the winter fun as she read, "Me Gusta La Neive!" by Hans Wilhelm.

Looking Deeper:  Exploration and Learning through Play
Let's take a closer look at story time.
Over the past two weeks we have read many winter related story books, with "snowmen" being a recurring theme.  While all of the "snowmen" books have been fictional, they were none the less a wonderful vehicle for teaching Science!  Each book dramatically described the enthusiastic building of a snow-person, and the inevitable thawing, melting and transformation of the "snowy friend" into a puddle of water!  Happily new snow fell, and the beloved "snow- person" was built anew!  The children have loved hearing multiple readings of Bob the Snowman by Sylvia Loretan, Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright, The Snow Child, by Freya Littledale, and Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan!

During the readings we talked about why snow people melt.  "Because it gets hot!"  We talked about why puddles disappear.  "Because the water goes up into the clouds!"  We talked about why it snows again. "Because it gets cold and the water turns back into snow and falls to the ground"!  After several such discussions, I introduced the words, "precipitation", "evaporation" and "condensation".  I then routinely used these words in subsequent discussions.  By week's end, some of the children were able to use these words appropriately, and nearly all of the children were able to tell me which word meant snow falling down, water going back into the sky, and water turning back into snow.  These fictional story books were not only a source of great factual information, they were also the catalyst for our doing a little "experimenting" of our own as we made ice cubes to observe in the classroom.

We observed and discussed the melting process, until ultimately, all we saw was water in the dish where the ice cube had once rested. 

Then we predicted whether all the water would evaporate by "tomorrow", and we left our dishes containing the melted ice cube water out over night.  The children could not wait to have a look at the dishes upon their arrival, and they were very excited to see that they were indeed dry!

A closer look at Story Time reveals the ease and importance of integrating subject matter for the children, (fictional literature and Science), and of course the excitement of the experimental process!

Have a fun and restful weekend!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Winter Week I

Winter Week I witnessed the children's seamless return to our classroom routines after a four day Thanksgiving break.  Our walls had been stripped of its Fall art work, so the children set to work creating new "Winter" art work!  We chose cool winter-like colors and used a different printing implement each day to create beautiful "snowflakes."  As in nature, at Parker no two pieces of "snowflake art" look alike! 

The children also spent time each day drawing "Snow Storms"!

In addition, we read lots of winter books and learned several winter songs!

The block area bustled all week as the children continued to explore, construct and create with the Waffle Blocks that we moved into the room the Week before the Harvest Feast.  From all appearance it was quite apparent that everyone was happy to be back at school!

Looking Deeper:  Exploration and Learning through Play
Let's take a closer look at Waffle Block play.

Children are naturally drawn to Waffle Blocks because they are large and colorful.  Building with Waffle Blocks takes the children far beyond the initial stages of stacking and layering.  Constructing with these blocks necessitates utilizing sophisticated mathematical discernment and skill, given the two prong into three prong building block design. 

Initially, the teachers, model and mentor construction for and with the children. Driven by their great interest and desire, the children are quick to master the technique and elaborate floor designs begin to appear all over the rug! 

In no time at all our young "contractors" master the technique for building walls, and their structures become three dimensional. 

Dramatic play and block play always go hand in hand, so the children quickly inhabit their "open-air structures," engaging in play that is limited only by the extent and direction of their imaginations. 

Their sense of design never cease to amaze us as the children create practical uses for their creations as well!

Before week's end they have installed roofs, created community dwellings and are enjoying one another's company in their cozy little houses!  

Waffle Block play engages and extends skills in all developmental areas.  One has only to "look deeper" at these photos to observe the ways in which the children have engaged their cognitive skills (thinking, imagining, mathematical planning),  their speech and language skills (collaborating, role playing), their social/emotional skills (empowering, interacting, pride, joy and delight in their structures), their fine and gross motor skills (lifting, connecting and putting away the blocks).  

It is a joy and privilege to facilitate and witness the children's growth and achievements through play!

Have a fun and restful weekend!