"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, April 24, 2013

Earth Focus: Trees, Rocks and Taking Care of the Earth

Observing trees: identifying the roots, trunk, branches,
and leaves; feeling the trunk; comparing the trunk to
our hands; looking for insects and plants on the tree, and more.

We did a litter pick-up around the preschool and
our campus. 

We ended our day outside reading
Miss Sadie McGee Who Lived in a Tree.

The kids enjoyed it so much that they asked our
parent volunteer, Ms. Melisa to read it to them again.

My "green" tree t-shirt
Ms. Shannon let us borrow her beautiful river rocks.

I LOVE how this friend took the instructions
literally. Notice how the colors match.

We were able to borrow a rock collection from
the elementary school and Ms. Shannon let us
borrow her amazing Andy Goldsworthy book.

Rock provocation: Each child creates their own
work of art and we photographed their creation.

We then added the nature inspiration cards.

Parent volunteer, Ms. Leslie brought in some rocks
from her home. Love the mortar and pestle. She
also identified where each rock was found.

The kiddos especially enjoyed this rock, which looked
like any other rock on the outside, but had beautiful
white crystals that sparkled and looked like snow
inside it. 

Ms. Myrna had collected rocks during her visit the
prior weekend to the lake. We set up a rock cleaning
provocation. The kiddos would dip the rock in soapy
water, scrub it clean with a toothbrush, rinse the
rock in clean water, and then lay on the towel to dry.
We used these two AMAZING rock books at our
group times. 

After cleaning the rocks, each child got to hold a rock
during the "If You Find a Rock" book reading.

Ms. Myrna brought in a lava rock and
a pumice stone. The kiddos were able
to compare their weight then we did a
sink or float experiment. Many of them
were surprised that the pumice stone floated. 

We decided to make Earth crayons. The kiddos peeled
blue and green crayons, broke them, then placed them
in a small muffin tin.

We placed them in a 200 degree oven until they
were fully melted. We cooled them completely then
sent them home with the kiddos the next day.

LOVE IT!! She's got the whole world in her hands...

I saw how Play at Home Mom LLC created their own
homemade bird feeder from office supplies and items
around the house and decided we'd try it. I found an
office organizer at Walmart and the attachments there,
as well. So far so good. 

Bird seed in, ready for the birds.

I saw Juniper Moon Farm's suet feeder and decided
to create our own Bird Nest Supply Station. We
followed their guidelines of making sure the yarn
was cut between 4 and 8 inches by placing rulers
on the table and teaching the kiddos how to
measure the yarn pieces.

...measuring carefully...

...filling up the suet feeder...

...we hung it in the tree. Ready for the birds.

Our hummingbird feeder has seen LOTS
of action.

After seeing the nature chandelier's over at
 Fairy Dust Teaching, I knew we needed to create
one for our classroom. We gave craft wire to each
child and encouraged them to string the beads up
to 12 inches. Once again, a measuring activity.

If they put more than 12 inches, they could
remove some of the items. 

Carefully beading...we also had lace and
feathers available for their use.

The end result! I am thrilled BEYOND WORDS!!

We ended our week reading "One Love" by
 Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley.
After reading it we listened to the song.

We did pause during the story as we heard flocks
of Canada geese flying overhead. 

These were some of our AMAZING books we read
during the week: The Busy TreeOur Tree Named Steve,
and One Love. Not pictured is A Grand Old Tree and
BIG EARTH, Little Me.

This is one of the newest crazes in the
classroom: Frigits Deluxe or as we like
to call them "Magnetic Marble Maze".

We continue to have AMAZING adventures...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Earth Focus: Worms, Snails and Slugs...Oh My!!

Our new theme is Spring and we're covering lots of subtopics. This week we were learning about soil, worms, snails and slugs. We've been assisted by lots of amazing books, a great song, a phenomenally informational GEMS guide, and lots of ideas from other early childhood educators, Pinterest, and friends. 

These are some of the AMAZING books
we've been using in our study.
Each of them have something special about them
and I STRONGLY recommend every one of them.
I actually found Mr. Carey's Garden at the local library,
but enjoyed it so much that I ordered it through Amazon.

GEMS: Terrarium Habitats
This guide provides detailed information about
worms, snails and slugs. It's actually a guide for
setting up terrarium habitats. We pulled the pertinent
information from the guide. That's one of the things I
LOVE about the GEMS guides, you use what works for
your program and your class.

We began with soil exploration.
We dug up some soil from our
school garden and placed it on the table.
We provided magnifying glasses, tweezers, and a
craft stick for our inquisitive little friends.
They discovered some roots,
leaves and other materials in the soil.

We just received our new sensory table and are
THRILLED with it. We placed garden soil and
potting soil in the garden along with plastic insects,
silk flowers, root veggies (carrots, artichokes and
asparagus), watering cans, gardening gloves, garden
spades, plastic worms and aprons.

I LOVE it when I see one friend helping
another friend without any adult involvement.
This year we have one friend who has learned
how to tie her shoes and other stuff. She was
the perfect friend to help with this task.

The kiddos fell in love with the song, 
Dirt Made My Lunch and were truly
able to grasp the concept of the need
for good soil to grow EVERYTHING
they eat. This video clip is very old,
as the Banana Slug String Band look
nothing like this now, but you can
hear the song this way. 

We start our study with determining what the kiddos
already know about the subject. We document whatever
they say, whether accurate or not. During the study
we'll determine what is true and what isn't. Very quickly
after we took down the info, the other kiddos shared
knowledge with the "Worms have legs," friend and he
decided that wouldn't stay on our board any longer.

We set up a mini worm farm. We found an appropriate
see-thru container, placed a capped water bottle filled with warm
water in the center of the container. We then layered
soil, sand, soil, sand, soil. We sprayed the top
layer with water, added some spinach leaves on
the top, then put in the worms. We then wrapped a band
of black construction paper around the container.
The next day we removed the black paper and could
see where the worms had tunneled through the layers.
*We did poke holes in the lid for air holes: large
enough for breathing, but small enough so they couldn't
climb out of the container. 

We were BLESSED with the gift of a worm farm bin
from our Nana Teri (grandmother of one of our students).
We placed shredded paper, a little soil, and some
lettuce in the container. We spritzed the contents with
water, then added the worms.

We placed a wet paper towel beside a dry one,
then laid a worm on it to see which side it
would prefer. Thanks to spelloutloud.com for
this idea, the download of the book below
and the suggestion of using the water-filled bottle
in the mini worm farm!!

Observing Worms book download
from www.spelloutloud.com

Our "worm" painting provocation:
plastic worms, two shades of blue
and green paint, paper.

These friends were very busy painting with worms.

No worm study would be complete without
tunneling like a worm.

We discussed that worms, snails, and slugs were
invertebrates. The kiddos are familiar with the term
"spine" when we talk about the parts of a book.
I pulled out our skeleton model and showed them
all the bones in a spine and talked about how any animal
with a spine is a vertebrate, any animal without a
spine is an invertebrate.

Once again we gather the beginning knowledge
of snails. The kids were pretty knowledgeable.

Our snails were brought in from a child's home.
The parent collected them and put them in a large
plastic coffee container with a few coffee grounds
in the bottom. The caffeine definitely had an
impact on them. I've never seen snails move so fast!
It was a totally unplanned experiment and not
one I would have set up intentionally.

The kiddos LOVED playing with the snails.

This friend looked through the magnifying
glass after the snail was crawling on it.
He was able to see the "foot" of the snail
move. It looked kind of like ocean waves.

After our snail day ended, we moved them into
their own habitat complete with soil, plants,
veggies, and an occasional spritz of water. If
you look closely you can see their silvery paths.
We then began studying slugs.
This was the next day and they
didn't move nearly as fast as the
snails, though they had been in
the same container. Who knows?

Look closely to see the shiny trail!

We also had some leftover real flowers and
decided to use them for some flower painting.
The results were beautiful!

We're having so much fun!!