Sunday, April 28, 2013

Wondrous Worms!

We've started one of my favorite science units to teach, on worms! A lot of grown-ups are grossed out by wriggling worms, but I think they're fascinating. The kindergarteners are fascinated by them as well, and not a single one of our kiddos was afraid to touch them! Here's what we've been doing in our worm unit.

What do you know about worms? What do you wonder about them?
At the beginning of the unit, we made a chart together about things we know and things we wonder about worms. I love some of these questions. Especially "How do worms not run into people?"

What do you think a worm looks like?
Before I brought out the worms, I asked the kids to draw a picture in their science journals of what they think a worm looks like. Here are a few of the entries:

Meeting the Worms
Then we sat with partners and I gave each pair of kids two red worms to observe. I was amazed at how diligently the kids took notes on what they observed in their journals. Ms. Breuer and I walked around asking questions like "What do you notice?" and "Do you have any observations?" We also asked them to speculate on which end was the head and which was the tail, and to notice how the worms move. Then we got to hold them!

Experiment: Do worms like light?
On the second day, we read several nonfiction books about worms and started to wonder (with some guided prompting from me...) whether or not worms like the light. The books told us that worms don't like light. So we decided to design an experiment that would prove it. I told them we would lay down some worms onto a cookie sheet that I brought (lined with wet paper towels). Then I asked them what we could do to provide some darkness on that cookie sheet. Several of the kindergarteners thought we could balance a big book on the edge, so that half of the cookie sheet was exposed to the light and half was covered by the shadow of the book. After trying out several sized books, we settled on a big enough one and then stepped back to watch. Sure enough, the worms crawled out of the light, either under the book or under the paper towel!

Some very curious minds can't wait to see the results 
Sure enough, the worms crawled underneath to escape the light!
[By the way, I got this worm experiment idea from a really awesome blog called STEM Mom. It's is a great website for parents and teachers who would like to do more hands-on inquiry-based science with their kids.]

Experiment: Will worms crawl through a unifix cube?
We got this idea from another kindergarten class. Would the worms crawl through a unifix cube (which is a small math cube that has a hole on the top and bottom)? They sure did! (These are earthworms or nightcrawlers. We got to play with both kinds of worms.)

And last, we recorded our overall observations of worms. Did I mention that not a single kindergartener was afraid to touch the worm? When you are curious about nature, instead of fearful of it, you are more likely to care for it!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Making discoveries at the Children's Museum

On Friday we went on our second field trip of the year, to the Children's Museum! We had so much fun. A huge thank you to all the parents and caregivers who came along as chaperones! We couldn't have done it without you.

We are so excited! 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Writer's Workshop: How to make slime, and other tales

Writer's Workshop is one of my favorite times of the week. Each month we work on a new style of writing, and last month's was how-to books. To begin the unit, we needed to understand what "how-to" books do. Grown-up readers use many how-to books on a daily basis, including recipes, manuals, and self-help books, so it's good for kids to get comfortable with them as another type of text. To start, we made a list of all the things we know how to do. Suggestions included "how to make your friend feel happy," "how to make a fairy," and "how to walk a dog." As a class, we wrote a story called "How to Get Ready for Recess," since this is something that we all know how to do. I also sent home a list for families to fill out with their kindergartener, as they walked around their home thinking of things they know how to do, including picking up toys and feeding the cat.

Finally, we read lots of how-to books from the library, including this one, How to Make Slime.

So of course we had to follow the directions in the book and try it out! The kids were so excited for "Slime Day." Our recipe can be found here if you'd like to try it at home. It's a bit messy, but worth it!

After that slimy adventure, we began writing our own how-to books using the ideas we had brainstormed.

They turned out wonderfully! Here are a few of my favorite ones:

"How to Write My Name" 
"How to Throw a Football"

"How to Drive a Skidloader"

"How to Peel the Tail off the Shrimp"

"How to Wash the Dishes"

"How to Dance with a Dog" :)
To celebrate all our hard work, we invited our third grade reading buddies to our room to listen to us read our how-to books. We practiced reading them out loud them over and over again since the third graders might not be able to read our handwriting if we got stuck on a word. (This also served as a sneaky way to get kindergarteners to practice reading aloud fluently!)

Our next Writer's Workshop unit is on non-fiction writing (also known as informational writing). I can't wait to see how their books turn out!