Monday, May 30, 2016

So, just how many animals could we find that were featured in our Myth stories? (Detroit Zoo Trip)

Penguins were not but very interesting to watch anyway.

A giraffe was one of the characters in the story Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock.  His fruit was stolen right out from under him by a mischievous arachnid.  To our surprise and delight, the zoo's giraffe pavilion's background was covered with Egyptian hieroglyphs (one of our current areas of study.)  We have not found any evidence yet that giraffes lived in Ancient Egypt, however.  We will be investigating hieroglyphs and murals to see if these (and other animals) migrated throughout the continent of Africa over time.

Zoo docents were readily available throughout the park to provide hands-on sensory experiences such as touchable zebra skins and a a section of a very large neck bone.  Zebra's were characters in both Anansi stories and the Aesop's Fable, The Kangaroo and the Zebra.  I recently found out, however, that 'zebra' is really pronounced like the name Deborah/Debra.  

The Australian Outback offered a realistic depiction of a walkabout with the potential of a pouched friend to hop across our path at any time.  The weather proved to be too hot for such activity so we practiced our own jumping instead. We found it impossible to match a kangaroo's ability to leap 27 feet in just one hop! 

A train ride provided an opportunity to receive a panoramic preview of the landscape. 

The seal had the best idea in 80+ degree weather, cool water, sunbathing and a nap!

A ground-eyed view offered a ground level view of animal habitats and habits.  Human gophers/groundhogs, however,  are so much more adorable than the real ones!  

The Kindergartners were glad to be at the zoo but even happier  to learn that we only had to walk a short distance back to the bus thanks to strategic route planning!

Friday, May 20, 2016

When Life Gives You Lemons . . . .

Kindergartners enthusiastically advertised during drop off for their upcoming sale. 

Additional signs were made to let purchasers know of our start time.

A tip jar would hopefully maximize our profits.

How could anyone resist those faces?  Several SK Parents even stopped and promised that they would be back for the sale.

Then the real work began.  We started production right after lunch to create our wares.  Earlier during Math class, we took inventory of our supplies and wrote out our findings using our newly acquired skill of writing in Egyptian hieroglyphic numbers.

Later, 3/4th Grade Teacher Chris allowed us to pick fresh sage, fennel, and two types of mint from the garden to add to some of our drinks.  He also shared information about the two fruit trees that had been kept in our playground for a few days to avoid them being food for deer before his class was able to plant them outside of our school.  He told us about how long we actually had to wait for a harvest (we would probably be in his class by then) and compared the tastes and textures of paw paw versus plum trees.

When we returned inside, Chris also informed us of a trick of the gardner's trade-a way to tell if you have actually picked mint.  The stems of mint plants are square!

Even our Yoga instructor Dom,  after hearing about our efforts to assist 3/4th Grade Teacher Spencer's class' desire to purchase a subscription for a water service for a Youth Center in Flint, Michigan  joined in with us.  She was glad that we were practicing healthy lifestyle choices. 

We squeezed lemons and oranges, sliced strawberries, separated mint and used a mortar and pestle to smash juicy raspberries to our heart's content.  We added lemon and carbonated liquid to sage water and garnished our raspberry, strawberry and lemon aids with floating fruits as final touches.

One of our 1/2 Buddies even helped with holding up the sign for weary arms.

Customers came in a thirsty frenzy.  The Kindergartners, however, stayed as cool as cucumber lemon aid.

Our Money Men were at the ready to take in cash.  We collected $70.00 total.  Not bad for 20 minutes of selling and worth every penny in  providing a real life experience!  A special THANKS to all of the supply donors including some of these photographs!  They yielded amazing returns!!!!!!!


Monday, May 16, 2016

Inch By Inch, Row By Row. . .

A few weeks ago, our class was given the task of planting and maintaining two kinds of starter plants-sunflowers and beans. We were informed by August's Mom that she chairs a community garden in Ypsilanti that provides fresh vegetables and fruits to a local food distribution center and that our assistance was needed.  Kindergartners were happy to help and diligently watered and inspected our earthly treasures during their stay near our window sill.

Last Friday, however, we took a trip over to the actual garden site and released our plant babies to the soil. There were several chores that had to be done beforehand, though.  First, Ks received a tour of the Normal Park Community Garden  and had an opportunity to sample some of its wares. Asparagus never tasted so sweet and the pungent aroma of mint filled the air as we munched and carefully stepped past several plots.

We discovered that a "cooperative garden" means that the patrons really collaborate with each other to maintain the space.  One gardener in particular, who was also our supplier of more seedlings to plant, met us on site.  While there, she placed a sign on her area that stated, "Gone until the 30th, please water" with full confidence that her area would be taken care of by others in her absence.

Although August's Mom informed us that the strawberry bushes would not be ready until much later in the season, we still had to check behind every petal, just in case.  We were told that there will eventually be a strawberry in place of each flower!  

After the tour, Kindergartners literally got down and dirty pulling up tons of weeds, piling up stray stones, and digging up a very large and unwelcome rutabaga root.  We also observed some of nature's helpers and foes, the earth worm and the caterpillar.  After hauling the debris to the compost heap, Ks then created several mounds of loosened soil for their first plantings, yummy squash.  Next, August's Mom and Grandma instructed us on how to distance snap pea, radish, kale, green bean and carrot seeds from one another by creating well-aligned rows using poles and string as guidelines.

We finally put our flats of seedlings in the ground in the garden plot's remnant of space and washed off our hands with the hose.  After all of that hard work, Grandma treated us to large slices of cool watermelon and read us stories from her vast garden-themed storybook collection.  Lastly, we ran the bases on the baseball diamond and played chase in the wide open field, then boarded the bus to return to school.  We will visit the garden again in a few weeks to check on our efforts and maybe even get an opportunity to water our neighbor's plants!

According to a fantastic book that I picked up at the Brooklyn New York Botanic Garden one summer called Gardening with Children by Monika Hannemann and others and illustrated by Sam Tomasello, "this activity teaches children many valuable lessons they will carry with them throughout their adult lives.

   Some examples given were: 

  • "Kids are much more adventurous in eating fresh produce when it comes from their own garden.

  • Being responsible for the nurture of another living thing and creating something that is aesthetically pleasing develops personal values and connects a child with the larger community and natural world.

  • Children move from timidity to self confidence in the garden."