Thank you to everyone who made it to our classroom yesterday! I was proud of the children and felt so lucky as I looked around at our school community. Thanks as well to Jennifer, Michelle, and Jenn for their help this week. The children had great fun preparing for you: practicing our songs and poem, dipping candles, and making cards. The candle making was particularly magical for them. We've talked about states of matter and observed different substances turning from solid to liquid to gas. They were intrigued to watch the wax harden on their candles, feel it cooling as they made their way through the line, and see the candles grow over time.
In Praise of Noodling and Music
I believe in noodling around with things as a wonderful way to learn. These last two weeks I watched the children start to really discover the recorders. We did a few formal lessons where we talked about the recorders, but mostly I just had them out for the children to play. My only limitation was that they couldn't blow hard and make the shrill noise that makes me want to go running from the room. They experimented with covering different holes and blowing in different ways. I would pick mine up and play "Hot Cross Buns" or some other little song. One or two children would come over with their recorders , and we would play together.
Theme Change: Weather to Haudenosaunee (Iroquois)
We looked very carefully at a variety of different crystals these past two weeks: table salt, Kosher salt, Epsom salt, and Borax. The children made observations about how they were similar and different. Our Epsom salt gardens grew in some different ways, and some of the children wanted to experiment more with these, so I've attached the directions.
When we get back from our vacation, we'll be studying the Haudenosaunee. Whenever I engage in a study of culture, I try to remind myself and the children that studying any group of people can be challenging. It's easy to talk in broad generalities, and this can be a good entry point, but we try to remember that to every generalization there are lots of exceptions. "Americans love hamburgers, love rock and roll, and can't get anywhere without a car." But wait, I'm a vegetarian who loves classical music, and I didn't own a car until my 30's. I also try to stress that we are studying history, something that happened a long time ago, and just like those of us who are descended from pilgrims don't wear tall hats with buckles, the Haudenosaunee living today are part of a dynamic culture. We did a KWL chart to give us a jumping off point for our theme. What do we know? Thinking about what we already know about a topic helps us to remember new information better. What do we want to know? The children can help to shape the course of our theme, and they conveniently came up with all of the big ideas I wanted to cover. As we start to learn more, we will add facts to our chart and correct some of the information we thought we knew but wasn't actually true.
Have a wonderful vacation - may you have some focused time to relax and enjoy your children!