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Horse Catcher

Dear Families,

I love watching your children play. You may have heard about "Horse Catcher," a favorite game at recess. The children separate themselves into horses and horse catchers. The other day the horses were making houses in the tall grasses while the horse catchers were creating an elaborate trap involving some of our playground equipment, a wheelbarrow, and 2 jump ropes. When the horse catchers tried to chase the horses from their houses, the horses told them they were having lots of fun there and didn't want to be chased. "But we want to be able to chase you, " said the horse catchers. "Well, when we are in our houses, we don't want to be chased. But we'll run out sometimes, and then you can." Everyone agreed that this was a workable solution, and they lived up to their parts of the bargain.

This is why free play time is so valuable. They were negotiating roles and rules. The children were letting their imaginations run, creating a rich world that I am lucky enough to observe. Everyone was included. They resolved their own issues.

I was so proud to be their teacher.

Theme: Weather

We started jumping into the science of weather this week. Encourage your children to notice the temperature, frost, clouds, wind, sun, and precipitation. In my theme pretest, I asked the children three questions about weather. "What is weather? How can we measure weather? Can you describe the water cycle - how water moves from the clouds to the ground and back again?" My favorite answer to the last question was, "A bicycle that can go on top of the water and all the way across." I'll be asking them these same questions at the end of the theme, looking for some key understandings and vocabulary.

We have been looking carefully at clouds, reading Tomie de Paola's "The Cloud Book" and making our own cotton ball versions of 3 of the most common types of clouds. We used literature to take a more fictitious look at clouds with "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs."

I got some very incredulous looks and cries of disbelief this morning when I wrote in our message, "We will make it rain." We're conducting an experiment in evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. It's a simple setup with a layer of plastic rubber banded over a glass jar and a small paper cup inside acting as a water source. The children put food coloring in their water (always a fun time). When we put the jars in the sun, water collected in drops on the underside of the plastic and started to drip down. My science geek was interested to notice that the water collecting is clear. Does that mean it came from water already in the air, or does that mean the food coloring doesn't evaporate with the water? We'll be letting this experiment run over the weekend and checking our "rainfall" (aka water in the bottom of the jar) to see how much collects and whether it is clear or colored.

Literacy and Math

Jackson's "Alphafriends Store" has been a popular destination in the morning though when he tried teaching school today using the Alphafriends, he found his students to be a bit unruly. Happily, they are all using these letter and animal combinations to help them write and read words. Whenever I introduce a new letter, the children generate words that start with that letter all day. Sometimes I have to ask them to stop so that I can come to eat lunch with them rather than simply writing words on the white board.

While it hasn't been part of my official lesson plans, we have been playing 20 Questions and I Spy many days during snack and lunch. "I'm thinking of something that begins with the letter h," starts one student. The process of asking and answering questions engages everyone, and they all use their knowledge of that letter sound to help them guess.

In math this week we continued taking apart numbers to find the smaller parts within them, particularly 6, 7, and 8. The children grouped them in various ways (a great starting point for multiplication and skip counting), and then put some in each hand. We worked to organize our results so that we could make sure we had all possible combinations.

We also worked with shapes using the Geoboards (pegboards and rubber bands) and started talking about probability using the outcomes sometimes, never, and always.

Textbook Loan Forms

For all students of kindergarten age and older, we are able to get textbooks through the public schools. Country Classroom will take care of anyone younger. I will have the forms at school on Monday, so please make a few extra minutes at the beginning or end of the school day to fill out the form.

Thanks and have a great weekend!

- Tracy

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