Monday, March 28, 2016

Such Characters!

The beginning of "Happy, Happy Fun (our SK version of Spirit) Week"  is off to a very good start.  Several of the children and teachers dressed up as their favorite heroes or villains for "Book Character" Day.

Harry, Madeleine, Minions, astronauts and fairies graced our hallways during the day.

Waldo even made several appearances throughout the morning.  Can you count how many?

Other Spirit Week activities include Pajama Day, a Fun Run and Culture Day!

Joanna introduces just some of our guest characters. . .

while other historical figures look on.

SK school spirit and camaraderie are rampant during morning meetings.

We hope Mrs. Carpenter is not contagious!

Our "Character Day" would not have been complete without our "Special Reader"-August's Dad Ed!

We are counting because Flint is counting on us!

Our Math lessons this week have centered around counting and recording donated  bottles collected so far for our "Water for Flint"  Bottle Drive.  Teams of 2-3 children were given color-coded stick dots and tally sheets then were charged with recording our inventory housed in front of our classroom so far.  This task required accuracy, patience, trust,  and a lot of cooperation.  Kindergartners did an outstanding job in all of these areas!

We solicited for water donations a few weeks ago.  Flyers were posted throughout various areas of the school.   Emails were sent to parents and forwarded to  family and friends. We were overwhelmed at the quick and generous responses.

Cases of water were color coded to divide the work so that Ks could share the counting load. Kindergartners have been working on and revisiting counting in increments of 1, 10, 100 (and most recently 2s and 5s) during the school year.  We have also practiced grouping, working with ten frames and predicting.

Our tally sheet design was inspired by Pop Artist Andy Warhol's famous piece 100 Cans, 1962.  They contained only 50 images, however to allow for counting tasks to be a bit trickier.

They say, "Many hands make light work."  This saying rang true as we divvied up tasks.   We had rotating jobs of counters, re-counters, and recorders.

Things became a bit complicated when we lost our place a few times while counting various cases.  We were also challenged with calculating conversions from gallon jugs to bottles.  Ks were first asked to make estimates of how many individual-sized water bottles it would take to fill 1, 2.5 and a 3.5 gallon jugs.  Predictions ranged from 1-100 bottles-classic Kindergarten logic.  

We have no final tally yet.  We happily still need to count the bottles  in front of Chris' room.  His students secretly gave me their total count so we will compare our totals next week.   More donations are pouring in almost daily.  A very special THANKS to everyone who already donated cases or jugs of water or gave monetary gifts to purchase water. We would also like to thank those who offered ideas for future successful filtration systems-a perfect compliment to our "Innovations" theme unit! 

Chris' class and Kindergartners will be delivering all of their collected bottles to Flint Residents in the very near future.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Lessons from Leo (Leonardo Da Vinci)

This inspiring poem was borrowed from "Renaissance Man: Leonardo Da Vinci" (Artist, Engineer, Painter, Architect, Sculptor, Inventor) in  Heroes for My Daughter by Brad Meltzer and is a most fitting tribute to our "Innovations" theme unit. 

The tank.
The submarine.
The helicopter.
A hang glider.
Scuba equipment.
Wings, based on bats, that would let him fly.
Leonardo da Vinci dreamed them up years before anyone else.
Almost five hundred years, to be exact.

And every single one of them failed.
The wings didn't help him fly.
The scuba gear was made from a suit of leather.
His pre-helicopter never took off.

Over time, as technology and human innovation caught up with his ideas...
Every single one of them worked.

Remember it always:
Be daring.
Be daring.
 Always be daring.
There is no big dream unless you dream big.

Some of the Kindergartners dared to try out one of Da Vinci's innovations-his version of the helicopter called "the helical screw" found in our Circle Time story Neo Leo:  The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Famous Potter, Long Before Harry!

Beatrix Potter,  beloved writer and illustrator of over 23 books for children, was one of the topic selections for this round of  EBs.  EBs or Exploratory Blocks are mini multi-age (K-2) workshops that generally reflects a passion area for the presenter.  These classes are in addition to our general theme-based instruction and take place several times during the school year.  Other choices included "Cooking Soups', "Flight", and "Paper, Paper". The "Potter" EB consisted of a plethora of activities all based on the life and tales of Helen Beatrix Potter.  Our first session consisted of a reading of Peter Rabbit, the most famous of her story collection. We also read how Beatrix Potter was also a self taught naturalist and an owner of prize winning sheep even at a time when most women could only imagine doing theses sort of things. 

Afterward,  EBers  nibbled on carrots while assembling origami bunnies and sketching realistic renditions of rabbits (or any other animal of their choosing) and it's habitat.  We also talked a bit about the proper care of rabbits and other small domesticated animals as pets. We also inspected and sketched a piece of fir tree, the setting of our first tale.  We placed both sketches in what was to be the beginning of a memory journal. 

Beatrix Potter was known for her sketch books that were chock full of exquisitely detailed pencil and pen and ink drawings, postcards, photographs and other memorabilia that she enjoyed collecting. Miss Potter would also write journal entries in her own secret language so of course we had to try some code writing too.

In another session we used radishes as stampers (remember how Peter gorged on these delicacies during his first trip to Mr. Mc Gregor's?)  on fabric to create striking black and white prints.

We also used tiny mortar and pestles to grind various types of berries onto fabric in order to "stain our aprons" like the Flopsy Bunnies did.   The next week, we read Mrs. Tiggy Winkle, the laundress and then we attempted to clean our set in stains with detergent and elbow grease.  Some impressions were more stubborn than others.  We also talked about how using stains from berry juices is typical in "batiking" and other fabric dying processes.  

The children attentively watched a detergent capsule dissolve and were intrigued by the disintegration of the plastic coating.  We discussed the possible application of this break down of plastic on the environment and talked about the need to keep detergent capsules away from small children.

One of our last activities grossed everyone out and almost stumped the panel during a "Scents and Sensibilities" challenge.  Peter Rabbit was coaxed by his naughty cousin Benjamin Bunny back into Mr. McGregor's garden on a quest to retrieve Peter's blue jacket.  He, adorned in one of his mother's red handkerchiefs, ventured back to the farm only to be trapped under a bushel basket with a kerchief full of onions.  

EBers were similarly captivated by the scents of various mystery odors that they had to identify.  Most were able to distinguish between the smells of lavender, bar soap, and onion powder but struggled a bit with scents of chamomile, tea tree oil, and a handkerchief of no scent at all.  

During our last week, attendees assembled their fabric swatches, sketches, and other treasures into a hopefully memorable journal that they can revisit from time to time.