Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Touring Cities!

Marcel's city scape
Our Theme unit of "Cities" began with a reading of a classic- The Snowy Day by  Ezra Jack Keats.  Keats was a master at telling stories about the everyday ordinary occurrences of inner city life through the eyes of a child.  Kindergartners pointed out the "continuous line" pattern etched out by the dragged stick,  predicted the outcome of the pocketed snowball, and  observed the skillful use of the "collage" technique Keats used to create his beautiful illustrations.  We later created  our own collage pictures using scrap booking paper and odds and ends.   Our "snow filled" reading was very appropriate for our first day back considering all of the cold snow days that occurred that delayed our return from Winter Break.  We also discussed what it would be like to live in New York City, recalled some of artist  Andy Warhol's experiences there, as well as our own experiences, and even received a "Flat Stanley"  from the Big Apple from Marcel's aunt!  She showed "Stanley" waiting for the subway, contemplating riding a rental bike, and taking a walk past NYU-so many possibilities for modes of transportation!
Speaking of Flat Stanley,  in the chapter book written by Jeff Brown, a little boy named Stanley was accidentally flattened by a bulletin board (but don't worry, he's OK)  and can now travel in his 2D state throughout the mail system and have fabulous adventures.  Kindergartners sent their flattened friends out before the break and are now reaping a harvest of responses!  Our first Stanley, however, did not come from a Kindergartner but our buddy Owen in Joanna's class.  Owen sent us his "Stanley" perched on the Prime Meridian all the way from Great Britain!   Our next Stanley came from Aditi's cousins deep in the heart of Lubbock, Texas!  This Stanley  had a very special encounter with Santa at Texas Tech University!  Our fourth Stanley arrived from Elise's Grandma and Grandpa in Arkansas complete with pictures standing in front of Elise's daddy's childhood home, grade school, and local ice-cream parlor that he frequented!  How cool is that!  Stanley number five had an unusual twist.  It also came from New York but to  Elise when she was just a toddler.  Young Elise showed it a good time by taking it to Michigan's hot spots- the U of M Stadium and clock tower and  to Millennium Park in Detroit and other places.  It was fun to know that the Stanley project has been around for a while and is still a lot of fun!
Stanley even had a chance to travel with me to New Orleans, Louisiana to visit my mom's alma mater Xavier University.  We were able to visit where my mom had classes, ate lunch, and attended chapel and saw original dormitories (now study labs and a help center) as well as campus additions and renovations since Hurricane Katrina.  Stanley, my daughter, and I even found Mom in the 1943 Xavier yearbook and her 1945 Graduation composite! 

Kindergartners are using our Stanley's acquired information during our "Global Experiences" (social studies) activities to locate cities and states on maps, plot distances,  and note our class' traveling trends.

Kindergartners read and studied about several  architects (real and fictional) then accepted several design challenges of their own.  We began with a book titled The Curious Garden by Peter Brown about a boy who revitalizes a city by being caretaker to foliage at an abandoned rail station.  We also put pencil to graph paper and designed  bug lodging after reading Roberto, The Insect Architect by  Nina Laden.  We also learned about some of the works of Architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry in Young Frank, Architect by Frank Viva.  In this story (right), an old architect learns that one can always learn something new from a young person, and vice versa!

Our design challenges also included sketching ideas and creating structures using random materials found throughout  our classroom, assembling three dimensional structures out of paper, and working with partners to  create sound towers out of cups during Math class.
We also practiced   measuring by inches and centimeters using rulers during both Math and Science classes.

On another day, Kindergartners were visited by Architect Mark, Max's dad.  He explained the role of the architect and explained the evolution of "blue" prints to "black" prints better known now as "plans."   Mark was even able to show us the plans to our very own gorgeous school building and classroom space.  He also taught us the symbols used to depict walls, windows, brickwork, fireplaces and landscapes on a set of residential plans.  We will be revisiting some of our previous architectural sketches to add our new knowledge.



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