Sunday, March 20, 2016

Learning about families

In social studies we have been studying families. We brainstormed the definition of "family" (we ended up deciding it was anyone who loved you), described and compared our own families, and drew pictures of them.

We also read lots of books about families, including my favorite, The Family Book by Todd Parr.

Then we talked about different homes that families can live in - big ones, small ones, apartments, houses, trailers, castles, huts. We read the beautiful book Home by Carson Ellis.

Then we drew pictures of our own homes!

Engineering in practice - dominoes and picture frames

We've been watching fascinating videos from the website The Kid Should See This, which is full of videos made for adults but appropriate for children, on all sorts of topics from nature to math to space and technology. One of our kindergarteners discovered this video, and shared it with the rest of the class. The kids asked to watch it three times, and were instantly fascinated by the idea of dominoes! So I brought out the dominoes and they spent the next half hour trying to construct their own domino designs!

Here is the video we watched. I especially like the end of the video, which has outtakes - we talked about how oftentimes you need to fail many times when building something difficult, before you'll be successful.

And here are pictures of the kids working on their domino creations. An awesome example of perseverance and cooperation!

And another awesome example of perseverance and cooperation came when one of our students' parents brought in build-your-own picture frame kits! He gave the kindergarteners their own hammers, safety goggles, and nails/screws, as well as the instruction page for how to put them together. I was so impressed with how patiently the kids worked on putting them together. Many of them intuitively knew what to do and/or could read the instructions page more successfully than the adults who were helping them! It was a lot of fun and another great example of what kids can do when you give them the tools to create.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St Patty's Day, and happy spring break!

Tomorrow is the last day before our spring break! I hope you all have a wonderful week together, and I will see you in April! Here are some pictures of our St Patrick's Day craft today. We wrote out six wishes we'd make if we had a leprechaun and a pot of gold!

What do you do when you wonder something?

Today we had an awesome spontaneous discussion during our reading minilesson, which was focused on how to take notes while you're reading a non-fiction book. The book was about what happens in spring, and someone wondered what worms do during the winter! They asked the reading teacher, who then asked me, but instead of giving them the answer, I decided to put it back on the kids to see what they could do to find the answer. Immediately they came up with some great ideas!

First, you can write the question on our wonder wall.

Then, you can try looking in a book. One student went to the library to check out a book on worms, and got straight to work.

Another suggestion was to "do research" by checking Pebble Go (a kid-friendly science website).

And the last suggestion was to check another informational video website we watch. It wasn't working today, so we settled on BrainPopJr.  Lo and behold, we found the answer, and learned a lot more about worms in the process! The team shared their answers with the class, and we made a chart of what you can do when you are wondering about something:

This was a great example of cooperative learning and independent knowledge-building! The kids felt empowered to answer their own question, instead of relying on a teacher or other expert to tell them. I was very proud!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Readers' notebooks

During Readers Workshop this week, we talked about how readers think while they read, and sometimes use a notebook to record their thoughts. The reading teacher and I modeled how to take notes, draw your favorite part, and record what you learned. The kids were super excited to get their own notebooks and got straight to work. Here are some pictures!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Exploring and researching with fifth graders: What is cancer?

We are delving into a tough topic this month, but a very meaningful one. One of our classmates is an amazing cancer survivor, and we are so proud of her! Our school was asked to do a fundraiser for the Make a Wish foundation, and we decided to combine forces with the fifth graders to do some awareness-raising for kids who are fighting cancer in the world today. The fifth graders have paired up with a kindergartener to research childhood cancer. Then they will present to other classes at our school, in order to kick off our Make a Wish fundraiser. It's a heavy topic, but the fifth graders are handling it with extreme sensitivity. Next week we'll start to write books and/or posters to share what we learned. We'll also interview a teacher at our school who is a cancer survivor. This has been an amazing collaboration so far and I look forward to what else the kids learn!

Below are some awesome pictures of kids reading books about cancer and using bubble maps to take notes on what they read about.

And here they are working on their posters, which they'll present to the rest of the school in order to kick off our Make a Wish fundraiser!