One way to express our identity is to share our Family Traditions. We have been experiencing just that during this very special time of the year. Kindergartners were treated with several "Special Readers" this month. Rachel, our Director of After School Programming and Camps came by to share a very sweet story that she also shares with her toddler daughter. She read A Sack Full of Feathers by Debby Waldman and Cindy Revell. Rachel explained that this was a traditional Jewish tale she heard as a child and that it was designed, as many oral stories, to teach a moral lesson in a unique and fun way. In summary, the story is about a kind grandfather who lovingly teaches his grandson the power and possible destructiveness of spreading rumors. He stated that "Once you tell a rumor (likened to a distributed sack of feathers) you can not get it (them) back." Kindergartners later illustrated their own drawings using what else- feather plumes!
On another day, Madeleine's Mom stopped by to share one of her childhood favorites. She read for us A St. Nicolas Story or The Fiercest Little Animal In the Forest, as told by Terri Reinhart. This story was about a pine marten, a weasel-like creature who mended it's grouchy ways by being a helper to St. Nicholas as he traveled to share food and comfort with those in need. Families, Special Readers are welcome all year so please schedule a time to share your talents or your favorite childhood story.
And speaking of sharing food with those in need, our class' "Andy Warhol Can" Canned Food Drive is well under way! Children have been bringing in yummy canned food in our quest to fill a need for those without. We are using American Pop artist Andy Warhol's "100 Cans" painting as our inspiration. We have read how Mr. Warhol was a child that experienced several hardships. He suffered from St. Vitus's Dance- a debilitating disease effecting the muscles, was picked on by family members and peers because of the way he looked, and had lost his Dad at a very young age. Because his mom did not have much money, young Andy ate tomato soup for his lunch almost daily. Grown up Andy, however, experienced may triumphs such as being recognized for his amazing graphic design ability and gift of collaboration. He was also hired by some of the most prestigious magazines and ad agencies in New York, and ultimately achieved his "15 minutes of fame" (everybody wanted to be around him) that he so much desired! Our goal for the canned food drive is of course, 100 cans. We have collected a total of 30 cans so far!
Recently, Kindergartners listened to an Internet version of "The Firebird" then attended the Wild Swan Theatre's production. At Wild Swan, we were treated to an AMAZING show of beautiful costumes and scenery, an exciting storyline, and a beautiful ballet performance. We also had an opportunity to participate in a "question and answer" period with the performers afterward!
When we returned to school, we compared the two versions of the Firebird story and noted some of the similarities i.e. a young boy on a quest to find the thief of the golden apples and differences in the storyline and characterization (no sibling or "toothless" wolf.) When we returned to school, the Kindergartners began to spontaneously re-enact the play on their own and even performed their own impromptu performance (complete with makeshift costuming from our class dress-up and art scrap boxes.) They dressed up as the troll, the king and queen, and even performed a dance of the "Firebird" herself!
Our current Math unit includes practice with recognizing numbers, amounts of digits of certain numbers, and place values. We are playing many math games that deal with numbers 1-100. We are also beginning to recognize patterns certain numbers create when numbers are placed on a grid. Kindergartners are at various stages of development in this process yet are all able to find some "Ah- Ha" moments in the process. The children seem to really enjoy one activity in particular- the "Guess the Hidden Number" game. We are using clues, logical guesses, and deductive reasoning with increasing skill. We are also revisiting the concepts of symmetry and patterning to aid with understanding simple to more complex math problems. We are also working on making "logical" guesses using estimation jars. Kindergartners are finding out what quantities of "100" really look like when using varying manipulatives.
Shan Science classes have also included lessons using "estimations." Kindergartners predicted the maximum amount of pennies it would take before breaking surface tension while floating in paper boats in a bowl of water. They also sculpted their own aluminum foil boat that would make the best configuration for floating pennies. Another activity included observations in color mixing and color separation.
During Art class, we are exploring the life and styles of artist/sculptor Alexander Calder. We began the unit, however, with a Math/Science lesson. We measured out lengths of copper or stainless steel wire and with cork, formed shapes to demonstrate "symmetry", "balance" and "movement." Kindergartners listen to a story called Sandy's Circus: A Story About Alexander Calder by Tanya Lee Stone and learned that young Calder was always given an ample supply of art materials by his parents who were also artists. "Sandy" as he was affectionately called, used the materials (that included wire and pieces of cork) to create a tiny "circus" of figurines that is presently on display at the Whitney Museum in New York City. Calder, a master of intricate (sometimes continuous) line drawings, we are learning, is best known for inventing the "mobile." We will also be studying some of Calder's "stabile" (massive non-mobile structures that are distinctively red in color) installations found all over the world including the ones found right here in Ann Arbor and in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Kindergartners are also designing posters that advertise their own mock "Kinder-Circus." We are learning how to revisit a single piece of art work several times to apply new information and acquired skills. We first applied a technique I learned at the outstanding Froebel (inventor of Kindergarten) Conference held in Ann Arbor earlier this year. One workshop in particular, taught by artist/educator/ writer Cathy Wiesman-Topal, demonstrated a painting technique using a scrap of cardboard as our drawing tool to create various types of lines. During our poster project we are also applying other elements and principles of design along with line that include creating tonal values, color, and repetition. The children also applied this same technique while drawing portraits and self portraits with amazing results!