Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We are thinking about so many things!

Hello Families!

I have enjoyed having time to meet with you and watch your amazing children share their work.  It has been neat to see the children take on the new role of "meeting" persona and tell you all about what they have been up to.  If you still haven 't had your family's meeting, please let me know when it would work for you. 

Many of you may have heard that Isabella has moved to Phoenix, AZ.  We said goodbye to her last Friday. The friends were so loving, making many messages, and have thought about her at different times this week too.  She was a great member of our group, and she is missed.  But this has given us many chances to talk about how we deal with these feelings that come from things that life throws us.  It's all a part of life, right?

Here are two of our recent videos to check out:

Last week we watched a video about the Venus fly trap.  It was interesting.  As a teacher I like to gauge with other educators my decisions.  I asked around to see how others felt about watching an ant trapped and going to be eaten by this crazy plant.  The teachers thought it would be fine and add to the discussion level.  Since we've been creating so many stories about an ant character named Enzy, I was worried the children would identify with the ant and have feelings.  Then the kids were so interested, no one seemed traumatized by watching.  The kids' abilities always amaze me.  Here it is if you'd like to watch:

Today we watched a video about other kinds of ants, since there has been so many more friends interested in creating more stories about ants, inspired by the Enzy character.  The children were very interested in the motivations behind the grasshopper and the ants.  Also, the nectaries and the pods feeding the babies were great because recently the stories of Enzy have been more about Enzy as a baby ant.  Interesting to see how our investigations of real life effect the creative process as budding authors.

Today we also went on a mini walk to sit below a tree to investigate what tree branches and trunks look like.  It was inspired by one of the Enzy drawings and our revisiting meeting discussion where friends were giving feedback that the rectangular shape that was supposed to be a branch looked more like a boat shape.  In our afternoon journaling  time our challenge was to draw what we were really seeing, not just a fantasy drawing.  The friends began to see the value of adding detail and of taking care to make each line meaningful.  I put the journals outside our door so that you could check them out.  The friends seemed very proud of their work today.  Since a tree is such a large thing, we talked about how choosing to do only part of it allows for you to go into more detail and make it special.  It was nice to see how hard each friend was working!

The muffin party count down is in full swing.  Each afternoon when we do the calendar the friends like to notice how close we are.  We have all the baking signed up for.  I would like to ask the bakers to give us copies of your recipes, too.  This might be a great extension project to talk about what muffins we tasted and liked, and look into what ingredients made us like them so much. 

Today the friends agreed that we will have three graphs to collect the info from the taste test.  One will show our favorites, one will show our "not favorite" and one will be a collection of descriptive words about each of the eight flavors.  I am excited to find out what we learned and to talk about it.  We might have many discussions about personal preferences that come out of this!

Thank you for all your support and excitement!  Remember that Thursday is our Picture day, as well as the Muffin Party!!!  As our October Maurice Sendak Poem says, "Whoopie!".

Enjoy your day, Jennifer

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Muffin Party Preparations Are Coming Along...

Hello Families!

This week was a fun one, as usual, and we are getting ready for the exciting Muffin Party.  We have four committees that are working on different elements of the party.  Here are the groups:

The sign committee met to begin the two signs the children want up.  They would like these signs to say, "Welcome to the Muffin Party!"  It is one thing to be getting good at writing, it is another thing to be able to write big on a sign!  These children were able to do this!  And the group also had a great discussion to work out the design on of the signs, deciding which decorative elements to use and where to put them for the best effect, and to keep readability.

The Sign-up Committee met and created the sign ups for the taste test portion of the party.  This was so neat because each of the friends' budding inventive spelling skills were shining!  The friends are beginning to be able to identify which letter connects to which sound, and then to draw the shape of these symbols in a way that we can easily read it.  This group's meeting was an excited and productive time. I was pleasantly surprised to see how fast the children whipped out their great sign up!  Here it is!

So far many families have signed up, but we do have three more flavors that need to be baked: carrot, blueberry and pudding.  The friends will be doing a taste test with this, so if you make 6-12regular sized muffins, that should be enough.  They had originally had 13 different flavours they wanted to taste, but we realized that might be a lot!  The friends decided to hone this down to 8 flavours and we used a voting graph to help us deduce which ones we are most interested in tasting at this time. 

The games are also almost ready.  We did a practice run of "Bear, Bear, where's your muffin?" on Friday in the fort that Gaby and I made to spice up our afternoon.  It was a big hit, as was the game, which went smoothly!  I hope you are enjoying your weekend!  More soon, Jennifer

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Take Me Out To The Muffin Game!

You may have heard the buzz about the MUFFIN PARTY! (I put it in caps because it's too exciting!) The children thought up this fun idea and are planning every element of this exciting event, down to the sign ups for parents. They will be asking for volunteers to bake (for the taste testing part), to help by manning some party game stations (they made up their own games and next week plan to create the actual pieces of these games) and to bring other things that they think are important for a party.  Signs ups will go out next week!

It has been fun hearing what is important to the children when planning a party. We have already penned a song for the occasion (see below!) and made many of the party decorations. It is going to be a very festive occasion, with lots of learning to be had in the planning process. We'll keep you posted!

Below you will find the words to the song if you want to get into the spirit.  The title is as yet undecided.  We brainstormed possibilities and will talk next week after thinking a bit about it.
Possible titles include are:
Muffin Party
Let's Go To The Muffin Party
I  Like Muffins
Muffin Baking
Put The Muffin In The Oven
Muffin In The Oven

Here are the words they wrote (Sung to the tune of Take Me Out To The Ball Game)

Take me out to the muffin game

Take me out to the bakery.

Make it yummy and sweet, sweet, sweet.

Grape muffins, blue berry muffins,

We make the batter,

And Put it in the oven

And then we take it out.

And it’s 1, 2, 3

Bites and then it’s gone

At the old muffin party!

I hope you are enjoying your weekend!  Love, Jennifer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Come to Family Night Tomorrow Night!

Hello Families!

Thursday night, October 14th is our next Family night.  Please come for a taco dinner and some fun math activities in each room.

Our class has been very into the pattern blocks and cuisenaire rods.  They are such interesting materials to use.  These tools are made so that you are encountering a lot of truths about shape, size, proportion, and dimension.  And the children have been moving from working with them on the table in a flat way to creating more three dimensional, vertical pieces.

Here are some questions to that our children are thinking about and commenting on when they work:
How many blocks did I use?
How many of each shape did I use?
What shapes could you exchange and still make the same large shape?
What are the relationships between shapes?

Here are some examples of our latest work!

What do you think about when you look at these?

I can't wait to see you all tomorrow night.  Enjoy your evening, Jennifer

Monday, October 11, 2010

Where am I?

Hello Kindergarten Families!

I wanted to give you an update. Today I was out, and will be tomorrow, too.  Gaby did a fabulous job with the kids!  She is so great.  And the kids were great about remembering routines and knowing what to do in the life of our classroom. 

I am having to cancel my conferences for tomorrow, unfortunately.  If you have one set for tomorrrow, please check in with me to reschedule. 

Last week I was reareneded on the way to work, and my neck and back pain have gotten worse.  Now I'm on some major meds to relax the muscles, and the doctors are telling me to rest.  And to top it off, yesterday, I was doing some sun therapy on my balcony (I've read that it helps to get some sun when you aren't well, to stimulate the immune system) and I got stung by a bee.  It's fun!  My arm is rather big and so I'm on some medicine for that annoying pain, too.

Sorry to bore you with my bizzare weekend and last few days.  And I'm so sorry to inconvenience you and your busy schedules.  I love conference time because it's time to talk about all the great things your children are up to.  I can't wait to be better to get to this!  Have a nice day!  Love, Jennifer

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are you all signed up?

Hello Families!

Next week begins our Student Lead Conferences!  Please make sure you have signed up for a time to meet. (You can find the sign up outside on the info board outside our classroom) Each meeting will be 30 minutes, and they are back to back, so please make sure to be on time so that we can respect each family's time.  I have been collecting work done by each child so that they can share it with their family.  Part of the time will be sharing, and part of the time will be goal setting. If there are some more adult conversations to be had during the goal setting, we have a time where your child will be reading or coloring with another teacher so that we can do this, too.  I can't wait!  I love having this time together to talk about your child's unique ideas!

I want to thank all the parents who have signed up to clean, do laundry and to bring flowers to make our class lovely and alive.  The children have been using the many flowers and foliage to deepen their drawing and observational techniques too.  So all offerings have been very appreciated!  Check out some of the latest work on the wall outside of our classroom.  And I will be organizing binders of more work to come.

Our latest Internet Investigation:

On Tuesday we looked at a video of finches.  This came from Paz's interview. When he mentioned these type of birds, the friends were asking many questions.  One question asked if they were at all like chickens.  Paz said no, but wasn't sure how to describe them.  The video brought a lot of understanding, but also the friends (because they are so inquisitive and getting good at vocalizing clear questions) were curious about the contraption that they are eating from as well as the bird at the end- could it be a woodpecker, instead of a finch?  It was also interesting to see their reaction to the music and the fact that it's not English.  I pointed out that the language at the beginning and end that is printed is also not English.  Where in the world could this video be from?  Ah, the magic of the Internet!  I hope you enjoy watching it too!

The class is alive with ideas and we are enjoying our time together.  Thank you for sharing your fabulous friends!  Love, Jennifer

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's a new month!


It feels like the kids are getting the hang of being at school, interacting with new people and the flow of the day.  We just finished our first month's songs and poems and the kids were all in unison and loud on our last day with them.  It is neat to see them get into them.  I will send the words home, just in case you want to enjoy these together.

The kids were also interested and excited that we are now in October.  The changing of a month can be an exciting transformation.  What new discussion topics will this month bring?  Thank you to all you families for bringing in books and unique objects for the children to study and investigate.  It is the most authentic when the kids bring things they are truely excited about. And it's fun for us to watch them share their ideas and excitement with thier friends!

We also continued our discussion of characters for stories.  What makes a good character?  How do you "flesh out" a character so we feel we know who they are?  The friends are using the flannel board to test their storytelling skills.  We are thinking about character as well as the fact that stories have a beginning, middle and end.  You might ask your child this weekend if they had a favorite story from this week.  Their character thoughts are even entering their work at the construction table.  Check out these additions to the castles:

For our investigations on the internet, we looked into a two things this week.

Our discussions about narwhals last week came from the Baby Baluga book's illustrations. Then, Logan brought some images off the internet for us to extend our discussion.  The friends had been wanting to see the difference between a narwhal and a swordfish, and Logan's images helped.  Then, Cecelia brought us a video called Arctic Tale for us to watch.  We watched a few minutes in the middle where there were narwals swimming and putting thier horns in the air.  The children were facinated and boggled by the idea that the narwal uses it's horn to tell the weather!  They are still trying to figure this out, and many think the horn has to somehow attach to the brain so that the narwal knows the weather.  Very in depth!  Since we only watched a little of this video, it might be a fun one to rent as a family.

Here are some images that have come out of looking closer at narwhals:

On Thursday we looked at some images I selected to deepen and inspire our uses of paper.  I was wearing earrings  (http://www.etsy.com/transaction/32795150) and when the children asked about them, they were interested to find out that they were made out of paper.  So our discussions about how the artists could have made these were very full of excitement!  I am wondering if after looking at them again, and closer, the chidlren might want to try to create their own versions.
We looked at some images from the first website, and then we looked at the second website a bit:

I have such a fun time listening to your children's ideas.  Thank you.  I hope you enjoy your weekend. 
Love, Jennifer