Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Back to School!

Welcome back!  I hope you enjoyed the time off!  The photo above is from my holiday of getting out and about in SD.

We have had a nice start to this week back after the holiday.    The friends have been so interested in their work lately and I feel that they are keeping track of the ideas that are on going and doing a great job reminding us of all the things they want to get to.

On Monday we went on a walk around the block for exercise and saw one of the Magnolia trees that had a pod that was bursting with bright red seeds.  The friends launched into a discussion on what makes the seeds be ready to fall or pop out of it's pod (gravity- but then why are only some on the ground?), and on how it might germinate.  We brought one back to class and the friends formed a group that planed the seed.  We are having many discussions about this and friends are bringing their prior knowledge to the table.  Friends wonder if we planted it at the right depth.  Also if it's the right time of year to plant the seed.  And then there was the debate about how often to water it.  The Western Garden Book that I keep in our class gave some ideas, but left us with more questions we plan to look up on the Internet or maybe to ask an expert, too.

The planting discussions are swirling around and stimulating many thoughts.  Henry shared some photos of his home garden's recent story.  He was excited to tell us about the frost event that happened over the holiday.  The children were very curious to ask about the differences in the two photos and were interested in the different names for the types of pumpkins and squash he had planted.  This also helped  to drive home the concept that sometimes it may not be the right conditions to plant!

I hope to see you all this Thursday night at 6pm for our Family Favorites Potluck! 
 I can't wait to eat all the yummy food.  It all sounds so delicious. 
Looking forward to chatting and seeing all of you!  Love, Jennifer

Friday, November 19, 2010

Molting, "homework" and Lots of Love LOVE LOVE!

Hello families!

The Love Party was a nice time.  We had many great discussions about how we would like to treat each other, and we had some great treats!  Even with the best intentions, there wasn't love all day.  We did have feelings hurt, and we are still, as with most humans, trying our best to give out as much love as we can.  The friends really enjoyed the special snacks the families prepared.  Thank you for signing up and making such lovely home made items at the last minute.  Thank you for pouring your love into our class!

Thursday we watched a video on Giraffes.  This was inspired by the Enzy stories.  The children have been adding different animals to interact with their ant main character, the most recent being a giraffe.  Isn't it interesting that they mention the acacia tree again?  That was in the ant video a while ago, too!


Remember that next week our school is closed.  The friends were noticing we have nine home days!  If you would like some "home work" please feel free to take photos, collect natural items and do anything to bring to school your memories and stories of the special home time with your family.

Speaking of home work...  I know our school doesn't believe in homework, and I do not either because it usually turns into something that is stressful and not fun which is the exact opposite of what meaningful learning experiences should be.  That said, our class has a game called 3 Clues Mystery box.  (see below)

The friends would like to take turns taking the mystery box home and writing up three clues for the mystery item they put in the box.  My wish is for this to be FUN!  Please let me know if this will put a strain on your home evenings.  Feel free to have it home for a few days if rushing this activity will make it not fun.  It seems that each friend is excited to have a turn at keeping the secret!

Last, I wanted to show you the video we watched that Gretchen, Tayler's mum, brought in of the actual lobster molting, who's previous shell we have in our class.  This has sparked much interest.  So many people who come through our class have asked, "Is that a real lobster?"  It's hard to get your brain around the idea that it's real, but the animal is done with this shell.  Thank you for bringing in such interesting and inspiring specimens!

I hope you enjoy looking at these things together and continuing the conversation at home.  Enjoy your time off!  Love, Jennifer

Thank you!

Hello families,

A parent had a great suggestion that I thought I'd follow through with.  Coco's mum suggested that I put up an updated wish list because many families might want to donate something to the class around the holidays.  You families have been so generous, everything you are bringing in has been so helpful.

Thank you!

Here are some things we can really use right now- we would like to start using more materials, like watercolor and magnets so we'll need some other items:

magnets sets of all types ex: geomag brand
unifix cubes
cuisenaire rods
pattern blocks
Keva, City or Kappla blocks
narrow planters for outside our classroom
Color and black Ink cartridges for our class printer: Brother DCP-110C

Here's the link to our wish list, too if this helps for more ideas.

Possibly found around the house:
empty baby food jars
small random metal objects
fabric napkins
rags for clean up jobs

And last but NOT least, unique natural items and specimines.  Keep them coming, they have been such inspiration for the children and their explorations! 

Enjoy your break.  Love to you all,  Jennifer

Monday, November 15, 2010

What are you thankful for?

Hello families,

As we look at the calendar and see so many home days, the friends have begun talking about what these holidays mean.  Last week we generated a beginning list of what we are thankful for.  You can find this on our door.   The friends are adding more to this list and still thinking about what the meaning of Thanksgiving is for them.  Here are some thoughts from our discussions.

What is Thanksgiving about? (In their own words)

It's about giving love.

It's about caring.

It's not just about turkeys.  It's like when someone gives something to someone and they thank you.

It's helping each other, working things out and if someone gets hurt, first you ask if they're okay and if they need anything.  You don't want anyone hurt on Thanksgiving.

How could we celebrate what we are thankful for?

To eat food

To play together and help each other

We could say, "I love you".

We could give some hugs.

After this, the friends didn't seem to want a lot of fanfare, but to plan a day of being nice to each other.  They decided that having a Love Party was how they want to celebrate.

Here are their plans for the Love Party:

Eat cookies that say "Love" or heart shaped cookies.

Cut out the word love (for decorations) and hearts or hearts with wings and "I love you" for the walls (why wings?  So love can fly to you)

Give loving messages to people who you never gave a message to.  (the class agreed to generate a message for each child during this week)

So the jobs the friends plan to get done for the party are:
1) Someone will count how many children are in our class so they can decide how many cookies to ask for (their first estimate of ten was thought to be too much when people thought that it meant ten each, and too little when the friends realized that they meant only ten cookies in all!)

2) Someone or some friends will create a sign up for milk, and the two types of cookies.  (we still have the juice from the last party)

3) Friends plan to make the decorations for the walls

4) Create a sign that says "Welcome to the Love Party"

5) Make friends messages all week

They are getting the hang of organizing themselves for celebrations.  It seems that they have the truth in what matters here. It is nice to see this.  (If I really think about it, these are my own personal priorities, too: Dessert, Togetherness and Love, in any order)

I wish you a week full of LOVE!  And thank you for sharing such sweet friends!  Love, Jennifer

PS there are many other amazing things happening here in our room, so please keep watching the interesting topics that arise during open choice time.  You can always find this in our planned possibilities binder!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fun and Exciting Times!

Hello Families!

Tuesday the friends prepared hummus with Stephanie.  We thought it was funny because it was cooking class, but there wasn't any actual cooking.  But lots to learn!  For a few days before this, we talked a bit about hummus and made some predictions.  Here are two lists they created:

Thinking about what it tastes like from our prior experiences:
Minty, salty, tastes like cheese, spicy, watery

Predicting what ingredients might be in hummus:

Mint, salt, french fries, cheese, pepper, a little water, something yellow-ish or white-ish.

Then the friends looked at the recipe that Stephanie so diligently created and found what goes in hummus. After preparing this treat, they used bagels and vegetables to make Bagel Faces.  Stephanie shared that there were many friends who said they didn't like the vegetables offered, but then she also noticed that a lot of friends ended up eating their creation!  So it seems it was a success.  It's fun to mix, test, taste and discover new things to eat.  Below you see the recipe.  Sometimes this blog doesn't like images and even though I have already rotated them, it wants them to be sideways.  Sorry that it's odd!

We have also been exploring with the Kappla a lot lately.  The friends are on a mission to build to the ceiling.  This has been tricky.  The latest work has been in testing what patterns will be best to be able to meet this challenge.  The friends have built as high as they can standing on a chair, and need your help.
 If you can bring a 8 or 10 ft ladder please do!  The friends are super excited to reach the ceiling. 
Also, if you have any Kappla type blocks, and could lend them, we may need them!

Happy Veteran's day!  Love, Jennifer

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What an exciting discovery!

Today's assignment: Researching the trash and recycle truck from above.  After a lot of patience, and many theorizing drawings and discussions (What is inside, a crusher, fire, what???!!!)  to help us think about what to do to find out this info, here's what we saw this morning.  Below are the photos for any friends who had to stay home today.  Or for friends who want a closer look! 

Now the friends have so many more questions that we plan to ask an expert: the trash truck driver!
Stay tuned to see how their research unfolds!
Enjoy your night!  Love, Jennifer

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's happening midweek?

Hello Families! 

Here's a mid week update because sometimes I find myself flooded with thoughts from the children and just need to get them out because I can't stop sharing all their ideas!

Today we had a great concert assembly.  A couple of musicians came with bagpipes and a didgeridoo and the children were captivated.  I put a flyer up outside our class if you want to go to their next concert, or look at the website.  I'm sure your child will be talking about this!

Lately, friends have been asking which bin their waste goes in when they are eating their snack, which has lead to many discussions.Yesterday we looked at another old Sesame Street video because the friends were interested in what happens to our cans when we put it into the recycling.  The magnet part and the liquid metal parts were especially interesting to the children.  Here it is:

Our journal topic was suggested by Tayler yesterday.  She suggested that we journal about what we did on the home days.  Many friends began talking about what holidays their families celebrate.  It was neat to see how interested and matter of fact the friends were.  The feeling seems to be: Yes many of us have similarities, and differences and this is natural.

Tuesday we also had our first cooking class lead by Henry's mum Stephanie.  The kids were very excited to be baking chocolate chip muffins.  Stephanie created a recipe writeup that the children can read with drawings as well as the words- Thank you Stephanie!   The friends were able to eat a mini muffin yesterday, and today they had slices of the loaf for snack.  YUM!  Here's the recipe if you want to make this as a family!

Also the friends have been creating stories using their costumes as inspiration.  There is a story going that is about a butterfly princess who has a cat princess as a pet.  The friend who has been drawing this wasn't sure how a cat's body is shaped.   Usually I offer to look on the internet for images of real cats, but here is another case where the friends are realising that they can take charge of their learning, doing their own research.  So instead of me offering a bunch of internet images, they want to capture images of their own cats.  If you do, please print them out and send them to me, or email me and I will get them ready for the children.  Then we can be looking at our own cat pets for our work!

Thank you for all your help and support!  Enjoy your week, Jennifer

Monday, November 1, 2010

Festive Muffin Tasting!

Dear Families,

How lucky we are- to be having so much fun learning, and to have such supportive families!  I have been thinking about all the exciting work that has swirled around our classroom and know that these children are full of passion for learning and sharing their ideas.  The planning and organization that lead up to the Muffin Party, the party excitement and testing on the day of and the after conversations have all been rich and fun. 

The morning of the party, right before we began, the friends spontaneously brainstormed possible next party themes.  Here are some that they thought of:
Flower Party, Banana Party, Cake Party, Cookie Party, High Heel Party, Broccoli Party, Dancing Party, Ladybug Party and Costume Party.
I find it interesting that these children were so jazzed even with all the work that went into planning the party.  They really took ownership of their fun and learning.  The children began explaining what types of things we would do at these theme parties.  As we continue this conversation, I imagine they'll have many creative game ideas and plans!

As we partied I noticed many things.  The children's games that they created really engaged them.  And the friends spent quality time at each before moving on to try other stations that they set up.  Also we really were lucky that so many family members came to help use in our work/celebrations.  I loved walking into the taste testing room to find parents holding clip boards diligently taking down observations of the children.  So cool!  Gaby's comment afterward reading many of the children's words was that the children really were critics.  I agree, it seemed like they took the science of the taste test seriously.  One parent said it seemed like they were wine connoisseurs taking a small taste and then moving on to their verdict. 

After the taste test and games we looked a bit at our findings in the revisiting meeting.  As you may guess, pudding and jelly bean were many friends' favorites!  The friends are noticing that some information can be culled from a graph, and also that some information is not shown there.  One friend explained that he had two favorites, but had to chose one because that is what was agreed to in this graphing process.  This week we will talk more about ingredients and what makes us feel we like things or dislike a flavor.  Please check out all the artifacts from this exploration on the large bulletin board outside our classroom.

Thank you so much to the families who came to take charge of game stations and tasting stations and documenting and joining in with our fun!  Let the muffin games continue!

Enjoy your evening!  Love, Jennifer