"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ladybugs!! Keepin' It Real...

We're studying insects this month. This week our focus has been on ladybugs. We've been learning so much about this amazing and helpful insect and wanted to share some of our adventures.

We've used the GEMS: Ladybugs guide during our  study.
GEMS guides are amazing and worth checking out. 

We began by asking what the kiddos already knew about ladybugs. We wrote down whatever they said, even if we knew it was inaccurate. The goal was to check their current knowledge. We can modify the statements if it is determined that we need to make changes or deletions as we gain new knowledge.

I made a trip to OSH and picked up a container of LIVE ladybugs. I put them out in a variety of viewers. This provided for the kiddos to get an up-close and personal look at the insects. Whenever possible, it's best and more effective to teach children through hands-on experience. We wanted to make sure they could truly experience the ladybugs through close observation and touching.

Several viewers were displayed in both the science area and the writing area along with the ladybug cards. Several friends were inspired to write the word.

Some chose to observe and then drew images of the ladybugs, pretty accurately, at that.

One lesson was about the symmetry that ladybugs have. They have the same number of dots on each side of their cover wings. We explored this idea by pre-folding a paper, having the kiddos paint on it, press it closed, then open it back up. The results showed a mirror image on the unpainted side, as well as the original image.

We played Ladybug Dice Matching. Some children could look at the dice and know how many dots there were, others touched to count them. We also later discussed that not all of the ladybug images were correct, as they weren't symmetrical.

I had found a fingerplay about ladybugs. I modified it to be able to do it with props. We've done it a few times, then I placed it out for the kiddos to do it themselves, if they chose to do so. If you aren't able to read the post-it notes, here they are: 

Five little ladybugs climbing on some plants, eating the aphids, but not the ants.
The first one said, "Save some aphids for me!"
The second one said, "These are tasty as can be!"
The third one said, "Oh, they're almost gone."
The fourth one said, "Then it's time to move on."
The fifth one said, "Come on. Let's fly!"
So they opened their wings and they flew through the sky.

Several friends were inspired by our study to don ladybug apparel.

We had been learning about the anatomy of a ladybug: head, thorax, abdomen, six legs, antennae, flying wings, and cover wings. Each kiddo had the opportunity to express their new-found anatomy knowledge by assembling their own ladybug. We had also discussed the symmetry of the dots and encouraged them to show that on the ladybug's cover wings. This was not an art project, but a science lesson. Each child's ladybug was still uniquely different, but was a great opportunity to review what we had learned.

We did a drama about how the ladybug protects itself when birds swoop in for a snack and carried the drama outside. In the photo above, the ladybugs were busy crawling all around. 

The above image shows the friend on the right swooping in as a bird. Some "ladybugs" flew away while others laid on their backs and got really still so the bird wouldn't see them. They also learned that sometimes the ladybugs emit a stinky liquid from their legs that deters their enemies. 

After observing the ladybugs for two days, we trekked to the school's garden and released them. Some crawled around on hands for a bit, some crawled from the hands to plants, and some happily flew away.

We're learning so much...and keepin' it real. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Including Parents Through Career Sharing

We strongly value parents in our program. We encourage volunteering and engage with them on a daily basis. However, some parents aren't able to volunteer, but would like to still contribute to the program. I was embarking on a new theme: Community Helpers and Transportation and knew that I wanted to include parents. My good friend, Jula from Redding Cooperative Preschool shared with me how she encourages parents to come in the class and share about their careers. 

I loved the idea and knew I wanted to incorporate it into our plans. She gave me a copy of her request form and I modified it to meet our needs. It encouraged them to come in to share about their career and to share any tools they use at their job. They would have 10-15 minutes to present and were able to choose the day they would like to visit. I was hopeful that we'd have some feedback. I was thrilled that we had 10 parents who were able to take time out of their busy schedules to come in to share with the kiddos.

We had a huge variety of careers shared with us: a server, a college student and mom, a nurse, an office assistant, a floor layer, a bread-man, and a cosmetologist.

We also had a school cafeteria cook, a law enforcement park ranger, and a fish biologist.

Ms. Wendy is a server and shared a menu, the daily changing menu board, and even set up a table where two kiddos viewed the children's menu and placed their order.  

Mr. Shawn shared about his job delivering bread. He showed us some of the racks he carries and passed a loaf of bread around for the kiddos to check out and we can't forget the stickers. Stickers are always a hit with this group.

Ms. Denyse works in the school cafeteria where our lunch is prepared each day. The kiddos enjoyed seeing the huge pot and gigantic whisk and spoon used to make the lunches.

Mr. Jeremiah is a law enforcement park ranger and shared about taking care of the environment in the park and about his job of protecting the animals that live there and the people that visit. 

Ms. Alex shared about her job as a nurse. She brought in a variety of the tools she uses and her very own patient and let our friends try taking care of the patient. The more hands-on the activities, the more the kids loved it!

Mr. Kevin is a fish biologist and brought in several fish mounts, tools used for tagging the fish, and some of the equipment he wears while in the water. We took the water wear outside and the kiddos got to try on flippers, masks, life jackets, and waders. So much fun!

Thank you so much to all the parents who participated in our career sharing. We were so blessed to have so many volunteer and such a variety among them.