Friday, September 30, 2016

Exploring Conservation efforts at the Michigan Sea Life Aquarium!

Kindergartners visited the Sea Life Aquarium in Auburn Hills, MI as a part of our "Exploration" theme unit.  Our workshop host, Shannon, first led us through some fishy and wiggly physical activities after such a long bus ride. 

Kindergartners were able to handle several real and realistic looking models of underwater specimen e.g. a giant shark's tooth,  a shark fin and a manta ray's tail.  We were informed that several of these items are acquired by select educational groups only in order to hopefully prevent misuse.

Our budding conservationists were encouraged  not to purchase certain specimen for souvenirs i.e. sea horses because its demand effects the population of that species.  This information was similar to our workshop about purchasing wild animals as pets that we heard on our visit to  Howell Nature Center recently.

Our group played several rousing games of "Under Sea Life Bingo".   This activity helped us identify the various creatures and conservation efforts the aquarium uses for its collection of wildlife from Michigan and areas beyond the Atlantic Ocean.  "Controlled breeding", "Rescue efforts" and "Protection" are some of the ways that the Sea Life Aquarium helps these creatures.

Kindergartners used their hands to demonstrate the sneaky tactics of a clown fish inside of a sea anemone.  We not only talked about ways that animals protect themselves from predators, but also how we can protect under sea life by reducing, reusing and recycling our trash.

A touch and feel tank gave us an opportunity to be up close and personal.  We heard some amazing facts about sea creatures and even observed a sea star eating krill while partially attached to the glass basin. A spiky urchin  grasped a hand as a means of defense (and maybe a potential meal.) 

Many other beautiful exhibits awaited us and loomed over our heads.  We observed the slow moving bioluminescent features of a school of jellyfish and the speed and agility of manta rays and sharks.

Worth a thousand words!!!!!  Thanks, Shan!

We were told that some of the goals of the aquarium are to establish a breeding program,  rescue injured animals and to protect sea life and its waters.  One turtle (that we also learned about in our workshop) had been injured and brought to the aquarium.  The children observed that it wore a weight on its back to aid with its ability to swim upright and submerge.   We found out that it will need to remain at the aquarium for the duration of his life, however,  so that as it grows its providers can change the size of the weight.  Other sea life is able to be rehabilitated and released   back into the wild.

The Kindergartners hopefully walked away with not only the smiles on their faces and a desire to return with their families.  They will hopefully find new ways to care for and protect living things.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

October Dates at a Glance!

Lexi, Age 5

October Dates at a Glance

This Month's Theme:  Exploration

Monday, October 3rd        EBs (Exploratory Blocks) begin! M 12:30-1:30, W 2-3 P.M.
Tuesday, October 4th        Picture Retakes!
Wednesday, October 5th   Trip to Three Cedars Pumpkin Orchard, 9 A.M.
Thursday, October 6th       No School!  Professional Development & CPR/First Aid
Sunday, October 9th         All School Open House, 2-4 P.M.
Tuesday, October, 11th       All School Open House, 9-10:30 A.M.
Wednesday, October 12th   Trip to the Farmer's Market, 9 A.M.
Thursday, October 13th      SK Community Meeting, 7-8:30 P.M.
Friday, October 14th          Friday Coffee with Walter, 8-10 A.M.
Mon-Fri Oct. 17-21st         Parent/Teacher Conferences- various times available!
Monday, October 24th      No School for students, Professional Development!
Tuesday, October 25th      Ypsilanti Community Garden, K service project 9 A.M.
Wednesday, October 26th  Library Story Times with Rachel resume! 
Monday, October 31st       Recycled Materials Costume Parade & Party, A.M.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Rocks in our Heads (and hands)

Kindergartners contemplated the ideas of 'what' and 'where' to explore.  We read several books on the topic including Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Rocks in His Head by Carol Otis Hurst. We also discussed the occupations of a mineralogist and a museum curator. We later became rock hounds ourselves and tried to classify the stones found in our classroom and on our playground. Some children spontaneously reflected on density, projectiles and distance of splash which also lead to a discussion on playground safety!)

We  supplemented our love of books with a trip to our library with Rachel.  She read us a story chock full of things to explore by local author Philip C. Stead called Ideas All Around.  This book coincidentally depicts familiar images around town.  I pretty sure we are going to have to go find them.

Math this week has been all about dots!  We counted and sequenced dominoes and even created domino game pieces using larger numbers.  We also practiced making up our own domino number stories.  Playing board games that used dice during Choice Time supplemented our dot endeavors and aided with our practice of taking turns, being patient and showing stick-to-itiveness.

Other board games involved using patterning strategies and spatial awareness.

Still other clever patterns were created with markers and paper strips during Choice Time.

Ks participated in activities to recognize and pair both upper and lower case letters and beginning and ending letter sounds.  We have also been building our own individual word banks and shared some of our favorite sight words. During a game of Boggle, Miles spelled out and added "Ninja."

Jackson provided a dose of intrigue for his classmates before the big reveal of his sharing item this week. Tuesday "Sharing Time" is a wonderful way to build community and find out more information about our new classmates.

SKers practiced listening attentively and walking quickly (yet safely) to the playground area during our first fire drill.  They were greeted by proud faces and lots of support in a mock emergency.  Upon our return to the school, we debriefed about the importance of a plan and practice at school as well as at home.  Other "Circle Time" discussion topics this week included classroom care, bus safety and respect of personal space.

While others filed back in after the drill,  our class spent time in the large playground and found beautifully ripened berries to use as, of course,  body paint.

This week's Art classes involved identifying patterns (on clothing, in nature, and in pieces of art e.g. Aborigine prints) and what attributes make for a true pattern such as repetition and order.  We then used nontraditional methods (cardboard strips and glossy black paint) to create vibrant patterned stamp prints.

Kindergartners celebrated Mexican  Independence Day with Ariana and her Mom.  We first listened to an endearing story about a relationship between a young child and her Abuela (Grandmother) then sampled a refreshing Mexican festival treat that included fresh vegetables and fruits and strawberry water (agua fresca). We also created colorful traditional paper cutouts (papel picado) to decorate our classroom.

Before the week was out, we had lovely visits from our new Head of School Walter and his family and Jacob's Grandparents, brother and mom!

Kindergartners play outside several times each day so are finding various ways to keep busy.  They even browsed through many catalogs and gave lofty suggestions of other outdoor items that we should acquire. 

We found this species of mushroom right in our own backyard!  Any guesses?