Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Polar 3 Cedars Pumpkin Orchard Tour!

 Kindergartners first enjoyed a winding tractor ride, braved the cold and drizzles, and searched for three "trees" and hole punch rewards during a scavenger hunt in a very large corn maze.  We meandered through stalk after stalk of maize guided by Edison's Mom and prompts suggested in turn by each of the children-"Let's take the right narrow path...left path!... Watch out for the slug!..." And "Hey, those (corn stalk) roots are big tarantulas!"   We  could have easily expected to see Alice and the White Rabbit on the path through this very magical very tricky labyrinth!   

We were successful at finding our tree markers then made our way to the "Pumpkin Pie Patch" for our choice of a kid-sized gourd to take home.  We then returned to the country store to warm our bodies and bellies with yummy donuts and delicious apple cider.  We burned off those calories, however, with a romp around the play yard that boasted of a barn and silo climber (complete with the ambiance of mooing and clucking sounds),  a place to feed a real goat and "milk" an imagined cow,  a quaint neighborhood of the Three not-so-Little Pigs, and a train and scooter tractors just our size. We returned to school for a late lunch in our classroom and some quiet time with Magic Tree House and other stories.  A very special thanks to our wonderful Moms Jessica and Stacyee who braved the cold and provided extra hands, hugs and outerwear that kept us safe, happy, and warm!  A great day all around!!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

A (Titanic) Boatload of Math and other Activities!

A lot of our Kindergarten Math curriculum is very teacher directed and has the goal of presenting  concrete or "real" concepts to students that can be segued into the more abstract application a bit later on.  Kindergarten Math  builds on prior knowledge and scaffolds information to better reach all types of learners.  We also strive to have  math incorporate as many other domains (i.e. literature, art, science, global experiences, etc.) as possible.  We can only hope that the children find these teacher- led lessons relevant, engaging and fun. There are other times, however,  when a Math lesson is born purely from the children's interests.  The "magic" comes when there is a marriage (and mutual respect) of the two.

 For instance, Esh came in with two books about The Titanic for "Sharing Day."  He expressed to the class his vast knowledge about the subject and filtered questions and comments from his classmates regarding their knowledge on the subject.  The children even carried their conversation into Choice Time and cooperated with each other while creating their own detailed diagram of the ship.

The children were very verbal about the ship's design and deliberated over the name of their vessel.  They finally settled on (and after much negotiation) "Titanic 2-Speed Maryhorn Mayflower -Jolly Roger" or  "Mayflower Speedhorn."  A lot of the Ks work time also involved discussing the reasons why the original vessel sank in the first place, the metal that would be most appropriate for their own ship -steel? iron?  and the necessity of adding enough life boats to carry all of it's passengers to safety in case of a wreak.   This idea sparked a Math idea from their very curious, o.k., very nosy teacher. 

          calculating the right amount of passengers per lifeboat

In our discussion, we attempted to recall facts about the original Titanic's specs-number of passengers...number of life boats...  with varying revealed "facts."  The children chimed, "I think there were 200 passengers...I think there were 220,... No, 200 passengers... I think there were 20..., No, 24 lifeboats..."  After much negotiation,  we agreed upon "200 passengers and 24 lifeboats."  (Yeah, we could have just looked it up in the book, but it was so much more fun this way!) 

We then set to work placing our endangered souls into the 24 lifeboats.  We figured out that it was equitable for each K to be responsible for two lifeboats a piece.  We were very careful to review our manifest (label each passenger with numbers) to account for every one.

  The Kindergartners  are presently creating their own  titanic- sized graph of our total results.  We are still in our counting stages but are apparently having a lot of fun.  We are honing our one to one correspondence skills,  have acquired some tally mark and counting up to 100+ (by ones and fives) skills, and some are even able to use there multiplication and division knowledge to problem solve. We have been diligent and unsinkable in our efforts!

Some Kindergartners are carried over their interests into other areas of play.     For Language Arts enrichment, we listened to the Magic Tree House Series:  Tonight on the Titanic by Mary Pope Osborne during Quiet Time. We had  a discussion during Global Experiences about who could actually afford a ride aboard the original Titanic vessels.  (We found out that the tickets had tiered pricing!)  We also compared the appearance of the elaborate state rooms to multi bunk-bedded lodging quarters.   During Choice Time, Ks used pencils and markers to create beautifully detailed drawings of the vessel and even and did some redesigns of its rooms.

Several Kindergartners' interests were still piqued about this topic the following weeks so one decided to use scrap paper from the recycling bin to make a model of his Titanic- complete with bow, smoke stacks, and compartments.  He even motivated others to make similar structures.  Eli decided that their ships needed to to made of metal so three rolls of aluminum foil later, we had iceberg-sized foil balls rolling around our room.  Still others assembled a world map puzzle and retraced the path of the Titanic only to discover how close it really was to its safe destination!   We are currently designing other models from cardboard, lots of tape,  and other Scrap Box finds.