The weather turned hot this week, so we brought out the hose. Bring out the hose, and it's time to make mud. Once you have mud, it's time to make a mud slide, a mud pool, and some mud body art. Beards were a common adornment, but inspired by our India study, a few children attempted some Henna designs as well. By the end of recess everyone was coated in mud, and we needed to do some serious hosing down. I admit that part of me wanted to hold the hose, to make sure that no one got carried away, and no one got a full force squirt in the face. But like so many parts of our day, I let the children help to set the rules here, and I trusted in their competence. It's the same trust that makes student-led conference and even free choice time work.
Our Theme: India
We continue to be "fact detectives," looking for information in illustrations, words, and diagrams in our India books. This week we read T is for Taj Mahal and added new facts to the list we've been generating. Each child wrote and shared something new they have learned about India. We looked at pictures to see the wide range of climate and geography that exists in India. The children described the snowy Himalayas, plateaus, desert regions, and river valleys. We also worked to figure out where India is on the world map. We always start any map exercises by reviewing where we live (New York State, USA, North America), and then move out to find other places. As we added mountains and the capital New Delhi to our map of India, I had the opportunity to do a little assessment. How many of the children remembered about compass roses and directions? Who knew the role of the key on a map? We also had a chance this week to start exploring some music from India. The children danced and drummed, listened to the Hindi words, and laughed at some sounds that were pretty different from anything familiar.
Fun New Building Supplies
I had a long borrowed tub of blocks returned to me this past week, and they made it to school. The children were very excited to see what they could construct with these new additions. Ramps, horse pastures, towers, and castles all came into being.
We also got a new set of materials donated that include all sorts of interesting gears and fans. The children collaborated on different contraptions with a wide variety of purposes. They inspired some writing and a number of oral stories as well.
Student Led Conferences
A big part of our week focused on getting everyone ready for student-led conferences. I asked the children to tell me about what we have been working on in math this year, and we generated a nice long list. Then I asked them about all the themes we've studied, and we were all are a little surprised to remember back to our space study. "Oh yeah. We made all the planets, and Jupiter was SO big!" We did a few role-plays for different difficult situations we encounter with our friends and reviews some of the language we have used (identifying the problem and offering solutions, filling buckets, de-escalating a situation). The children looked back to the beginning of their handwriting and math workbooks. They looked at writing from different times of the year and picked out books to read to their families. We talked about goals for school, everything from being able to run faster to finally reading chapter books. A number of children admitted to feeling a little nervous about the whole process, and I reminded them that this was a presentation for their biggest fan club. We also came up with some strategies for dealing with that nervousness. On Friday, as the children shared their work, it was rewarding to see some of their pride shine through in their accomplishments and their hard work.