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Crystals and construction

Hi Families,

Thank you to everyone for meeting with me this week. I enjoy the chance to hear your insights and share a picture of your child at school. I also find that as I do the formal assessments and write the narratives for each child it helps me focus my teaching.

Theme: Weather

The colder weather has allowed us to do some very close observations of frost. Why does frost follow the veins of a leaf? Why does it linger in certain parts of our school yard and melt in others? What sorts of patterns and crystal do we see? This week we almost finished our water droplet stories. I let the children dictate their stories because I wanted some of the richness of their language to be preserved. This activity helped me assess how well each student understands the water cycle, and if the children were doing their own writing, they might shy away from words like evaporation or try to simplify the process. While I ultimately want them to feel as if their writing can capture all of the complexity of their ideas, they are not at that point yet.


We have been comparing and contrasting some different weather books. What information is the same? What information is different? How do the illustrations vary? When we read a Magic School Bus book, the children enjoyed pointing out that while some of the information was true, some of what happened in the book couldn't really happen. We also ask the question, "What did we learn from each book?" Everyone is working on finding the big ideas in a book and the supporting details that round out the big ideas.

Science and Art

After last Thursday's fun explorations with color and design, I had the challenge of figuring out how to use this amazing pile of paste paper. I love to use it for book making, but with our circle books already in production, I didn't want to get too carried away. Instead we used them to help us create our own unique collage insects. I explained that while they could be creative in making their insects they had to fit the insect mold (6 legs, antennae, head, thorax, abdomen, and possibly wings). To help tease out the differences between insects and other arthropods, we did a little "Is This an Insect?" activity. When I throw out terms like exoskeleton or segmented bodies, I don't necessarily expect everyone to remember all these new words. I do believe that through repetition these words become more familiar and start to get incorporated into the students' vocabularies.

A Few Requests

Our dramatic play center is going to go through another incarnation as a construction center. The doctor (veterinarian) office will be replaced by lots of building materials. Hard hats, tool kits, and other props that encourage construction play are welcome. If you have some Lincoln logs, magnetic blocks, etc, etc, that you would be willing to share, please let me know. I don't want to double up materials (ex: Legos from multiple sources) because I want to make sure to return them to you by the end of December.

Also if anyone knows a serious tennis player who is constantly getting rid of old but still perfectly serviceable tennis balls, please collect some for us. I'd like to make our chairs a bit easier to slide and to protect our floors.

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Monday.

- Tracy

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