Taking Things Apart
"We found the mother lode!" "You mean the motherboard." "It's just so cool!" Our engineers had lots of fun dissecting a printer this week. They discovered the ink, in case you couldn't tell by all of those colorful fingers. They found the styluses that put the ink onto paper. With a teacher okay, they experimented with using and mixing these inks. Their busy fingers found gears and levers. With scissors, they took apart wires. "Hey, there's metal in here." "Silver metal!" We even tinkered a little to see if we could put some of it back together.
Escalators and De-escalators
"I just de-escalated that situation!" cheered a child as he went to wash his hands for snack. All of the children were role playing different conflicts that might happen in the classroom or on the playground. In this case, he had come up to two friends who were arguing, helped them identify the problem and choose a solution. It may have all been pretend, but he clearly felt pretty jubilant about the result. During our circle time, the children had already brainstormed things they can do that escalate a conflict and things they can do to de-escalate the situation. We used the role plays as a chance to practice their ideas. We have all been practicing "flower breathing" as a class, inhaling a deep breath through our noses (like smelling a flower) and then letting out a long breath through our mouths (like blowing the seeds off a dandelion). I can turn to two upset children and say, "You both look really frustrated right now. Do you want to try some flower breathing or walk away from each other for a few minutes to try to calm down before you solve your problem?" I know, as an adult, that I can struggle with letting go of my mad, but we're all trying to get better, and I am so glad to be working at a school where this is a key part of our curriculum.
Mini-Theme: Have to Have a Habitat
You've probably heard your child humming or singing Bill Oliver's catchy tune some time this past week. We're talking about the unique combination of plants, animals, soil, rocks, and water that make up different habitats.
It all started with some great books. Ruth Heller paints rich natural worlds, and we have lots of books from her series on animal camouflage. These books are coveted during "relax and read" time. They are the topic of many a post reading time discussion. I have read a number of them to the whole class, spawning all sorts of excited conversation about predators, prey, and animal adaptations. It was clear to me we needed to spend some time with this topic.
While many of our studies span weeks of learning, this one is shorter. Last week we created some colorful and unique habitats using a paint technique where we painted half of our paper with different colors, folded it in half, then saw the reflection on the opposite side. As we worked we talked about symmetry and coloring mixing. This week we created a special camouflage critter to live in the habitat we made and wrote about our critters.
Math: Making Numbers and Pulling Them Apart
Tracy's and Theresa's math kids have been playing lots with flats (100s), longs (10s), and cubes (1s) to make numbers. They solve "What am I riddles?" about mystery numbers. They trade in 10 ones to make a ten, and trade in 10 tens to make a hundred. Tracy's kids add another ten to see how a number changes and practice writing all of these numbers on our chalkboards. Having this physical representation for a number can help everyone as they move to adding and subtracting bigger numbers.
Thinking about the parts that make up a whole - in a habitat, a number, or a printer - happens over time. It takes work to understand these complex ideas, but holding onto the different parts with our hands and talking about what we are doing helps to make it easier.