Happy April! And now that we are entering into spring, please note that we may have our first snow day on Monday. Actually, it looks like the accumulation amounts are being scaled down, but it is supposed to be quite cold, so please send your children with all their warm layers. Related to well dressed children are happy children, when spring comes back, please send a raincoat with your child on wet days and/or a complete change of clothes. Unless it is pouring out or there is a thunderstorm, we still go out in the rain.
Bird Fair on Monday (Tuesday - Snow Date) at 2:30
The children got to practice sharing about their birds on Friday when we had some visitors to our classroom. Actually anyone who comes in generally gets bombarded with birds and eager children. Speaking to a group is an important part of literacy, and we practice it throughout the year in plays, songs, and presentations like this one. Like so many of the other skills the children are learning, they are in the early stages of development, and I'm so glad they get the chance to get to develop their speaking talents in front of such a sympathetic group of listeners.
We added painted details to our birds this week, trying to match colors, and really noticing the location of everything from eyes to colored bars. The children dutifully checked and re-checked multiple sources. I was so impressed watching them study a picture, describe orally what they needed to do ("There's a white line that runs back from the eye, and it's below the red line."), then figure out how to translate this onto their model. We got to talk about how there is some variation that exists within a species because some of the pictures look a little different from other pictures.
It's always a good day when Nancy comes. The children each wrote and illustrated a page for a book that we plan to give her the next time she visits, We Love It When Nancy Comes.
This week she told us a new story about grouse and why brown feathers can be a very good thing. The children had the chance to re-tell the story to two of the students who missed her visit. We also played a game with yarn that demonstrated how bright colors can lead to easy spotting. Nancy also brought an amazing egg collection. The eggs were models, and everyone enjoyed the chance to handle and trace the wide variety of shells. We were surprised to find out that the loon lays one of the biggest eggs (in our area of the world) and delighted to find many of "our birds" represented. The children compared the eggs they had made with the ones that Nancy had. It was fun for me to see how some of the children wanted to write the names of the birds and some wanted me to write them. Some children wanted to color their drawings to make them look as accurate as possible while others were just eager to touch them and compare them. Everyone did some tracing, but they all stayed engaged for a nice long time.
Thursday Homeschool Mornings
Theresa and I try to have our Thursdays be similar to our regular schedule while providing a little extra community building to give everyone an opportunity to build friendships. Each week we have some free play time, play some structured games, and sing some songs. We often do finger games or work on counting up and down by ones. On Thursdays Theresa leads these in Spanish. The children know "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed" but now they are also learning "Cinco Monitos Brincando en La Cama." At least one of our PE games is in Spanish. Rather than having a thirty minute block of Spanish, we weave it into the morning, and sometimes the children don't even seem to notice that this time they're counting in different language. We have also been doing some science and art activities around flight. It's a nice compliment to our bird study, giving us a chance to make paper airplanes, examine feathers, and create helicopters.
Math: Parts and Total
We are continuing to work on number stories that involve addition and subtraction. One of the ways that our math program helps children to interpret number stories is to break down a story into a little chart that has a box for each part and a box for the total. I tell them, "Vanessa had 4 toy horses and Bill had 3. How many did they have all together?" The parts are 4 and 3. The total is 7. Most of the children find this fairly straight forward. Then we do a different sort of story. "Alicia had 5 strawberries. She gave some to Lewis. She had 2 left. How many did she give to Lewis?" Many children will go ahead and add the two numbers, and say, "7!" When I say, "But wait, she only had 5 at the beginning. Try putting the numbers in our chart." They stop and look at the problem again. By using the chart, it can help the sort out that in this case 5 is the total, and they need to figure out one of the parts. They have different strategies for solving the problem once they know what they need to figure out. They draw the strawberries as little circles and then cross out 2, or they use their fingers, or some of the children simply know at this point that 5-2=3. I encourage them to share how they solved a problem, so they can verbalize their strategies and learn from each other.
Keep an eye on the forecast, and I will, most likely, see you on Monday!