We were climbing around on our favorite downed trees this week. First in the cold and then in the snow. It was such fun to finally have snow to play in! The children found it was a perfect sliding snow, and acted like a group of penguins trying to find the best slides, shooting down on their bellies, bottoms, and backs. They also had great fun following all the fresh tracks that we could find in the snow. "Who do you think this was?" "Look at how close the tracks are." "Was this deer walking or running?" "Where do you think it was going?" "Do you think we can find a fox den?" A rabbit was frightened by all of the joyous questioning and almost flew out of its hiding place and deep into some thick underbrush. "Did you see that?!" "Wow! Look at how far apart these tracks are!"
Theme: New York State History
I chuckle a little when I watch the class practice our play about Henry Hudson's fateful exploration up the river that would eventually bare his name. The children helped make the script, and I tried to honor their ideas as much as possible. It means that the dialogue is not historically accurate, and the transitions are a little rough, but they really seem to be getting the basic facts down. I'm pretty sure that they will remember all of this much more clearly than if I simply read them a story about Henry Hudson's journey or had them fill out a worksheet about his travels. We did read a beautifully illustrated book this week called Tattered Sails to dig a little deeper into what it might feel like to be one of the colonists making the trip to the New World. We imagined ourselves on a journey that could take 8 - 12 weeks depending on the weather and the wind. We also read Spotlight on Stacy, a book about a girl coping with her stage fright as her class puts on a play about colonial America.
Life as a Duck
Nancy gave everyone the chance to be a duck, looking for food in the pond. The children found it was difficult to get food using their scoop beak without filling their bellies with water. Nancy had them think about a potential solution, and they suggested they needed some sort of filter. With a new set of little strainer beaks, they were much more successful. But is that really how ducks do it? Nancy had a duck skill we could examine, and when the children looked closely and gently rubbed their fingers along the edges of the bill, they found little comb-like structures that could work as filters. Her questions then led the children to ask lots of other questions, and Nancy celebrated the way they were thinking like scientist.
Science Fair in February
All of the children will have a chance this next month to further their science minds as we get ready for our annual science fair. We reviewed the basics of the scientific method: generating a question, coming up with a hypothesis, developing a procedure, recording results, drawing conclusions, and making more questions. We generated some possible ideas and talked about how it can be helpful to start with a topic that they find interesting. If you love to paint, you could work to make some of your own paints and then test different recipes to see which one works best. If you love to build ramps for your cars, you could experiment to see which cars travel fastest or how the travel time changes when you put different materials on the ramps. I'll be sitting down with each child to discuss some specifics this week so that I can have all the appropriate materials and any supporting books ready to go. Please talk to your child as well to get a sense of his or her ideas and encourage all of the questions generated.