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Inquiring Minds

When I was in college, I did a project on science in the elementary classroom, and I asked my classmates their thoughts on the subject. Some common themes were a dislike of the subject, fear of not knowing the content, and confusion on how to get children engaged in science. I did my best to help them generate a list of touchable science projects for children, and then we worked to extend a few of those out into big projects. But my experience is that all children are budding scientists. Their brains are primed for inquiry, and our jobs as the adults in their lives aren't to just give them the answers, but to help them pursue the questions.

Cheryl's PK Class

"I tried blowing air and I saw smoke outside because it is getting colder!" and "I saw the frost outside!" I am continuing to hear as I greet the youngest students in the morning. The cold is sinking in and the littlest ones are eager to rub their hands for 'open shut them' for our morning circle to warm them up. Fall wind and change were explored in books, songs and movement, nursery rhymes (Rock a Bye Baby), waving our color flags for the color game and making kites to fly outside. We even ventured out on the top floor deck quickly to test them out and use plastic bags to 'capture' the wind! The letter 'I' was explored through play dough, chalk writing board, and water color painting and we enjoyed shaking egg shakers to the rhythm of the ABC's. Ask your child what starts with the letter 'I'. This week's highlight though was an introduction to a cozy spot we can visit when we feel so angry that we can't control ourselves or are crying and need to take a break until we are ready to come back to our class. We read multiple books on feelings and acted out scenarios for problem solving sharing and being flexible. We also talked about how all feelings are okay and pass (the winds of change!). The enthusiasm was high when sent to their spots to practice writing their names and adding a picture of their own feeling that day.

Theme: The Human Body

We put on our gloves to explore the workings of the lungs and heart this week. One of our families butchered some of their pigs and offered their organs for our scientists. We found the trachea and bronchi in the lungs, and noticed how the left lung was slightly smaller to make space for the heart. It was challenging to find the chambers of the heart - they weren't as big as they looked in all of the pictures - but we found the chambers, valves, arteries, and veins. We wrote and drew our observations. I love it when we have opportunities to take what we know from books, translate it into the physical world, and then bring it back to the abstract in our own words. We also experimented to see how exercise changed the amount of breaths we took in 30 seconds.

Nancy and Adaptations

Nancy talked to us this week about animal adaptations. We studied a vole and a mouse to see their similarities and differences. We also examined a chipmunk and a skunk. The children looked at the eyes, ears, and feet to see what they could learn about the ways that these animals get food and avoid becoming someone else's food. Nancy also told us the story of how the chipmunk got his stripes.

Writing With Meaning

We do our best to have writing be a meaningful activity. We record the results from our experiments, write get well cards to ill friends, and make lists of topics we'd like to research. Theresa has been leading the children on "curiosity quests" related to topics they've generated. This week they were exploring geodes, crystals, rocks, and minerals. The made super saturated solutions using a variety of substances then waited for them to grow. Ask your child what we saw. They were also testing rocks and minerals with the "penny scratch test" to see what would leave a mark. All of their observations were recorded in their writing journals.

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