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children

painting-snow

A fun way to teach children how primary colours mix to create other colours is by painting snow.

I went to the dollar store and bought 6 spray bottles.  I took them to our class and we mixed small amounts of tempera paint, dish or laundry soap and water in them.  This allows the mixture to be washable, should any of it get on the children’s clothing.  We used only the primary colours (red, yellow and blue).  I took small groups of children (6 at a time), had them dress in their winter clothing and then we ventured out to our school yard to paint the snow. 

At first, I got them to take turns spraying only the colours I said, and where I said.  This gave them a demonstration of how to mix the colours and see what happens in a more controlled setting.  For example, first I asked the children with blue to spray a circle of blue on small spot of the white now.  Then, I asked the children with yellow to spray directly on the blue spots.  It only took moments for the snow to turn from blue to green.  The children’s eyes grew large in wonder!  I then allowed them to create their own colours, and asked them to tell me what they saw happening.

The children had a ton of fun creating colours and playing in the snow!

getting-started-with-inquiry

This is a monograph about getting started with inquiry.  There is a list on the last page that gives 6 tips on how to get started with inquiry  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/CBS_StudentInquiry.pdf 

This great line….

Inquiry allows students to make decisions about their learning and to take responsibility for it.
 
 

 

a-quick-winter-sensory-idea

A simple change in your classroom to make winter feel like it is inside, is to change what is in your sensory table.  Instead of sand or water, try adding cottonballs, fake snow and white yarn.  We even put some silver sparkles in our table.  If you want to make it feel like the holidays, you can purchase plastic ornaments, and reindeer from the dollar store and add them too!  After the Winter Break, take the holiday items out, and the children can still enjoy the feeling of a “snow” sensory table.

Our students have really enjoyed this activity this past week!

planning-idea

In the beginning of the school year my ECE partner and I worked together to review the curriculum document and decided on how to best meet the needs of our students in the first 6 weeks.  For most, this was an entirely new setting for them and we wanted to make them feel as comfortable as possible. 

Our first idea was to start with them and their experiences.  We got them to design special “Me” bags at home.  Children places special items and picture to discuss in large group.  This year, we decided to purchase picture frames from the dollar store and have the children bring in a photo of their family or a picture of them doing something fun. These remain around the classroom and it creates great discussions.

Next, we started discussing their natural surrounds-we discussed family, our neighbourhoods which lead to discussions about nature, buildings, shapes, signs etc.  We planned a community walk field trip early October to travel around the neighbourhood to view some of these things.  During the walk we stopped and talked about what we saw–I took the camera to take pictures. 

From the photographs we created large posters with the children telling us what they saw and adding the language below the pictures.  We make books and started to change our centres according to our neighbourhood. 

Examples are; Our house centre became the bake shop, another centre become the clinic, the building centre become a construction zone with a fire station, and our math area focused on shapes–naming and sorting.  The children made signs, added in their own writing, they wore different clothing, and this lead to discussions about careers. 

This is how our long range plans began to evolve–their ideas drove the learning, and we reviewed and matched curriculum expectations for each centre.   We used a web format for our planning.  The Big Idea or overall learning was the focus –each centre developed around the idea (each had a purpose and focus) so we would write down questions that we would ask the children as we entered each centre to extend their learning.

setting-up-the-environment-before-school-begins

Before school starts, educators go in to their classrooms to set up the environment.  Making a list of the centres you want in your classroom is a good place to start.  Then, you can look at the classroom and see where each centre you want will fit, and if it will work in your room.  Think about where you will need space for large group instruction times, and where in your room will suit small group activities.  Also, think about which centres will require a quiet area, such as a reading/book centre, and try to avoid putting those centres next to a centre that can become busy/noisy, such as a dramatic play centre.  The furniture that you will need for your centres will also need to be taken into account when setting up your classroom. 

An important aspect to chosing the learning centres you want at the beginning of a school year is to consider what they children will want to do.  Will the children want to begin with learning words from your word wall?  Or will they be more engaged in centres where they can be hands on?  Some suggestions for centres at the beginning of a school year are an open-ended art centre, sensory tables, blocks, dramatic play, etc…

Once the first day of school arrives, explain the centres briefly to the students.  Take them on a tour of the classroom so they can see what is available for them to play with.  When the children are engaged at the centres, circulate so that you can spend a few minutes with each child and get to know them a little bit and discover their individual interests.  This can also give you some insight into adjusts you may want to make to centres.  You can also model for children while you spend time at each centre.

gradual-entry-plan

Different boards have different plans on how to introduce the new JK students into the classroom setting. Some have individual meetings with the child and parent(s) scheduledwithin the first 2 weeks and then they begin as a large group by the 3rd week of September.  Last year I had a straight JK class so we had groups of children of about 3-5 come to school with their parents on a scheduled morning.  As the children played, we discussed with parents our classroom routines, bookbags, notes and newsletters, snack/lunch, indoor shoes, busing, starting and ending times, pick-up policy etc.  Basically, everything we included in our JK handbook was reviewed with parents. Parents also appreciated this time because they were able to ask questions, hear others ideas/concerns/questions and meet other parents in a small, intimate setting and children met a few friends before they arrived on the very first day.

We had a school tour, we assigned them their locker space, walked through where buses drop off and how/where they would enter into our classroom etc.

This year with a JK/SK split our plan so far is to have the SKs come the first weeks with no JKs present so that we can reacquaintthem with rules, routines and get them comfortable.  Then start having the JK students coming the following week in small groups of (3-5) for an hour with their parents. SKs will be in centres as we discuss/talk to parents.

making-leis

Next week, we are having a “Beach Day” at our school.  To help our children get in the spirit of summer, we made leis with our kindergarten students.

To begin the lesson, we all met on the carpet as a large group.  We showed them a few pictures of leis, and discussed what they are.  We then told the students we were going to make our own for our “Beach Day”.  Next, we reviewed different types of patterns by using our bodies as well as by drawing shapes in patterns on our whiteboard.  We used yarn, plastic needles, tissue paper flowers (easy to thread through), and straws (all white) to create the leis.  We did a quick demonstration to the large group so they could watch how to create the lei.   Then, we had them create patterns by threading the flowers and straws.  Some children did their patterns as a simple AB pattern (flower, straw).  Some children chose 2 flowers and straws to create an AAB pattern, and others chose 2 colours of flowers and straws to make an ABC pattern. 

It was a fun activity for everyone, and we had the opportunity to review and assess the students’ knowledge of patterns and we can wear them next week to celebrate the beach!

observing-a-butterfly-life-cycle

Over the weekend, my teaching partner found Monarch butterfly eggs.  She picked the leaves they were on and put them in a clear plastic container adding holes in the top for air.  She brought them in for our class to see.  The children were mesmorized!

This morning, we checked the eggs and 3 of them hatched into tiny caterpillars.  Some of the children drew pictures of the container with leaves, eggs and the new caterpillars and asked if we could hang the pictures on the wall above the container.

This will be a great opportunity for our kindergarten children to see a real butterfly life cycle happen, instead of just reading or listening about one.  I am looking forward to watching the transformation myself!