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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Spinner Challenge

Last week the thing all teachers love happened in our class. Playing led to a discovery and everything that happened after was guided by the students curiosity, but it involved SO much learning! It all started with these K'nex that are on a shelf in our classroom:

 One morning during free play the peas discovered that they could build "spinners" with the K'nex.
 As four and five year olds do, they became very enthusiastic and curious about how to build more, more, MORE spinners!
  "How fast can they spin?" They wanted to know.

"Wait, is there anything else in our class that we could spin?!?"
 Yes! They quickly put their heads together and realized that snap cubes also spin!
 "Wait!" they said. "We have an idea!" We got an ipad out and used a stopwatch timer to time the spinners.
 They would say, "1,2,3, SPIN!"

 They said, "Let's look up things that spin!" I said, "That's called research." :)

 While Ms. Angela and I oversaw the spinning taking place all over the room, the peas started doing something on their own. They had gone to the art table and were drawing their spinners. "That's called making a design!" Ms. Angela and I told them.
I got this book and read it to them.
After reading the story we decided they needed a challenge. The peas came up with the questions themselves.
Then we put the ipad, the K'nex  and snap cubes at a center and let them go crazy.
  They continued to draw their designs.
 And time their spinners.
 And create new fabulous designs.

They told us, "Take a picture!" a million times, so we took a picture of each pea's spinner. "Wait! We have another idea!" they told us. "Let's make a SPINNER BOOK!" So we did.
And then they came up with my favorite part of the spinner extravaganza.  They decided they wanted pictures of the spinners actually spinning. I took the first one and they were thrilled with how the blurred pictures came out, so all future spinners were photographed while spinning.

We rounded off the spinning project by listing things that spin. These little minds are always working! Angela and I were amazed by how many things they came up with!
And, so far, this is not the end of spinning. We may still be spinning crazy in Pre-K 1. But we sure are learning. :)

Monday, May 4, 2015

{In the Garden & Birds}

The last several weeks we have been learning a LOT.We decided our "Flowers and Showers" theme would be a perfect week to kick off our Garden PBL. We started off by brainstorming what we wanted to grow. We had a lot of great ideas!
Our next step was to research each item we thought of and see if it grew on a tree, bush, vine, as a plant or was a root. We knew we couldn't grow it if it was on a tree or bush because it would take too long. The peas looked up each item and made a chart of how it grows.

Finally, we made a list of what was practical (could grow in a month or so) and what wasn't practical (took a year or longer to grow). During circle time we talked about each one and came down to a good list of things we could plant.

One of our awesome dads, Coach Stralow made us a new raised garden box to start our garden! Now that we knew what we were going to plant, we could get started!
We got our seeds ready and took turns planting different parts of the garden. Pre-K 2 even helped out! We used teamwork to plant, fill up the watering can and give our little seeds their first drinks of water.

 Afterwards, we began making a seed collection. Some of the peas brought seeds from home or fruit that we could take the seeds right out of!
We taped down the seeds and carefully labeled them.

Afterwards, we put the seeds out with magnifying glasses so we could study them.

We also loaded up the sensory bin with flowers since we were talking about gardens.
Next, we did journals. We do journals every Wednesday and I love that part of our week. Everyone takes their journals and finds a comfy spot to work. Sometimes they work together and sometimes they work alone, but they always spend a good amount of time illustrating their page for the week.

Here's a few of the finished products!
And to conclude our garden PBL, here's a before and after in just two weeks! That rain really jump starting our little seeds. We are documenting our growth.
We love to read. We read a LOT.
 So it was while reading that we read this book about a flower:

That we found this page in the book with birds:

And a new obsession began! :) They loved this page and wanted to look at it over and over and know the different types of birds. So we thought about what we know about birds and listed all the types of birds we could think of.
I went to the library and checked out almost 20 bird books that we read over the last week, but here are a few of our favorites:
We took the flowers out of the sensory bin and added eggs, worms, birds and a basket with twine and yarn to practice nest weaving. (Sneaky fine motor fun!)
The peas wanted to do bird art, so we found some paper and  drew our own bird interpretations. Then they water colored them.

Angela and I cut their birds out and then they made nests and eggs and glued them all back down on blue paper. The results were awesome! I love the uniqueness of each bird.

We also watched this time lapse of baby birds. It is a little longer, but so worth it. We call these guys the crybabies.

Next, we became entranced by this live eagle cam of two bald eagles and their babies. They have triplets! Here's the parents with the eggs. If you go to the live feed, you'll see the eaglets are pretty big now!

All that eagle watching led us into a big discussion about nests. We found this video of a time lapse nest being built and they loved it!

And you won't believe it, but we found something RIGHT OUTSIDE OUR CLASSROOM!!!

What could it be?
It was a BROKEN EGG!!
The peas quickly investigated and found a nest in the tree outside our class. There is a mourning dove sitting on a nest.

Can you see her head?

To wrap up the week, we read this fantastic book:

After all that talk of nests, the peas begged to make their own nests. So we divided up into two groups and got to work!

We gathered found materials and tried our best at nest building.
Here's our finished products! We decided they were most like an eagle nest since eagles primarily use sticks to build their nests.
I love the curiosity and awe that the peas have for new information. They are always learning. We plan to find some bird feeders to hang up outside our room so we can do more bird watching. So far we've seen sparrows, a blue jay, a cardinal, a crow and a mourning dove. Tell us if you see any cool birds by your home!