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Sunday, September 20, 2015

{Building, Engineering & Design} in Pre-K!

This week in Pre-K was all about building and construction. I recently ordered this book about building with preschoolers which had fantastic ideas for extending children's thinking in math and spatial awareness and gives ideas for open ended learning opportunities while building. You can check it out on Amazon here.
I have a huge crush on both PBL and S.T.E.M. so when I saw that we were having a construction week, I thought it would be a great opportunity to focus on engineering and design. The best part about teaching preschool is that we have so many opportunities to learn through exploration and these little people are so full of joy and enthusiasm about learning! One of the first things we did was put them on the blocks, so we had block people to build with!
 We extended our block center to make it much larger so that they had space to experiment with many different kinds of building materials. We also hung pictures of different structures so the peas could look at buildings, bridges, towers and how they are designed.
 We began with some very general driving questions:
We also read a lot of books about different structures. Here's a few we really enjoyed: 
The peas enjoyed building towers, so we discussed some tower building strategies.
 These sweet peas are so stinking smart, right off the bat they started discussing not only how tall towers are, but how people could get to the top. They also said, "Towers save space because they go up." Many of them thought of hotels and buildings that they had visited and referred to them as towers.
 We learned how to safely use a chair to keep building up so we could make gigantic towers!
We discussed making a design and practiced drawing our buildings. They were more interested in drawing their buildings than drawing a plan, then building, but that's the great thing about introducing concepts, we give them time to think and process new ideas. By the end of the week, we had paper and markers in the block center for drawing designs and making "blueprints" of our buildings. We encouraged them to follow these four steps: 
 On Monday, EVERYONE built! I took a picture of their structures. Here's everyone's buildings:

 They drew their buildings and then told me a little about how they did it. I asked them questions like, "Tell me about your building."
"How did you build it?"
"What did you do to keep it from falling down?"
The answers they gave revealed so much about their thinking. We read them the next day in circle time and discussed different strategies they used. They are hanging in our room, so you can check them out!
Next, we did a Lego challenge! Each pea got a ziplock with 15 Lego pieces and they had to build a design and tell us what it's purpose was. This was probably one of their favorite things all week, they LOVED it! Ms. Leslie wrote down what each piece was and they got to take them home! 

 We read several books about design and then we put out TONS of materials to build with!

Cubes, Popsicle sticks, mini red solo cups. (Inspired by Cannon Elementary's first week of school pics!)
  Flat stones for building. We looked up rock towers and Inuit rock art.
 Huge builders!
What is amazing is how you can see the progression of their building skills throughout the week. The structures started pretty simple and grew to be bigger, more complex and had more detail as the week went on. I know these are a little difficult to see, but if you click on the picture, it will get larger.
Let me blow that last one up. It's pretty spectacular. Also, I loved watching as friends came by and joined in for a bit and then moved on and more friends would appear until it was this awesome masterpiece!
 One book I really wanted wasn't at the library, so I found it on a video. It's Block City by Robert Louis Stevenson. It's a poem, but this video turned it into a song. We enjoyed watching it during the week.

We even had a building themed morning message! :)

 And our journals had a building poem. We used colored shapes to glue a block building down in our journals.
Pre-K 2 agreed to order these S.T.E.M. kits from Lakeshore with us so we could both use them for building week! They came right in time and we were able to explore with them.
They were a little difficult, Ms. Leslie and I even had hard time with them at first, but our open ended exploration resulted in a lot of creativity!
 We wrapped up the week with a Engineering group project! We divided the class in half and I got one group and Leslie got one group. Each group worked together to build a block structure, and then we tried to make a picture representation of our buildings. It took a lot of figuring out how to collaborate, and really thinking about the shape and space of our structures. 
 Working together.
 Discussing design.

Finished products! 

That wraps up our building week. It was exciting and busy and fun. We will continue to build over the next several weeks and extend our building PBL. We will be doing a fun 3 Little Pigs building project and then we will be thinking about building enclosures. So more to come! Ms. Leslie and I  can't wait to keep exploring with your little engineers!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

{Fitness+My Body}

This week we talked about our bodies and how they work. We started with bones! Here's few bone songs that are pretty catchy that we enjoyed:
 After feeling our bones (our elbows and a friend's spine), talking and reading about our skeletons and looking up a few x-ray pictures, we made our own bone pictures at art. It was a great opportunity to use scissors and critical thinking skills to build a skeleton on paper!
 After making our skeletons, we filled in a prompt that said, "My bones like to..." They really thought hard about what they wanted to write.
How adorable are these skeletons? I love them!
After learning about our skeletons, we talked some about parts of our bodies.  We talked about four major organs and used an ipad to research them. Every time we looked up one of them and I showed them the picture of the anatomically correct organ they shouted, "Awesome! Cool!" I love the enthusiasm!
Here's the pictures we looked up if your pea wants to see them again!
Then we labeled the these organs as a group!
 Later in the week we talked about muscles, our heart and fitness. We had a mini yoga class! Here's fish pose (bow pose).
 Bridge pose.
 This is something between candlestick and plow, haha!
They loved it so much, we may have to add yoga into our weekly routine!
 Here's a few of the favorite poses of the week:
After our yoga, we decided to use our bodies for literacy. We made the alphabet out of kids on Friday! They giggled the entire time we did this, it was so much fun.
 Here's the whole alphabet. Notice anything about Z? Yes, it's backwards! I have to go back in and see if I can transpose it, but it's still a precious alphabet.
In math we did several activities. We talked about the food we put into our bodies to keep us healthy. We practiced patterning with this fruit game.
 In circle time we made a GIANT graph of all the food groups. We passed out all of our plastic food and took turns putting them into the right catagory.
 These smarty pants got every single one right. While talking about foods we eat, Ms. Leslie suggested we start an Environmental print book. What a fantastic idea! Please save any food labels (or non food for that matter!) that are familiar and easy recognizable and send them to Pre-K. We will be working on adding them to a class book!
In our pretend play, we opened a grocery store. It was pretty much a health food store since we only only have one plastic cake. All the other items in the sugar category were borrowed! They loved using play money, scanning, ringing up totals and bagging the groceries.
 Just a couple of our journals of the week are below. This week's poem is in the middle.
We finished our Chicka Chicka tree from last week and got it all hung up and ready to be read with pointers.
 They love reading it, it's a hit.
That wraps up another week. Have a great 3 day weekend!