A Snapshot of Free Play
Walking around during "free play" this last week I snapped the pictures above. I was intrigued by the variety of tasks and the intense focus in each place. In one room, a child was playing teacher, reviewing letter sounds with a small class of students and drawing letters on the board. In another room, children were sorting dice and pattern blocks, then creating intricate designs with each. Two of our older students crafted a "morning message" for some of our younger students, and I worked with them to edit and improve their writing. Five children were building with blocks, an exercise in negotiating and compromise as they included different visions of the final product. I saw work happening in literacy, math, social, and emotional skills. Small and large motor skills were engaged. But if you asked them what they did, they'd say, "We played."
Cheryl's PK Reflections
Our littlest ones were reading more books on 'feelings' and Be Gentle was a hit. There is something about a kitten and not squeezing it that resonated with this group and started a conversation about how they can be gentle with their hands and their voices and check in - with animals and other people - to see if they are okay. I witnessed their lesson in action outside as one child caught a caterpillar and said to another young friend to be gentle with it; the other student tried to grab it from her, but we modeled how sharing hands are gentle hands and not grabbing hands.
We started talking about Thanksgiving, introducing the idea of celebrating the Fall harvest and the large word 'cornucopia'. They made their own maize counting cheerios (and ate some before the glue-oh the excitement!) gluing them on for kernels. Next week we will explore the story of the first Thanksgiving in more detail from the Native American perspective with a few great books (and a fun craft).
Ask them what starts with the letter 'J' and to recite a new nursery rhyme about a 'jump rope'! Following their lead during their free choice time, shapes were introduced and we played 'Duck Duck Goose' where the goose had to place the shape on the corresponding shape - which ended with giggles and claps of success for all.
Tracy's Math Group
We continue to practice our addition and subtraction facts, working to become fluent in them. While it's important to have strategies for solving unknown facts, ultimately I want all of these facts to be automatic, so that we can work with even more complicated ideas in math. This week we also continued working on multiplication and division. We model these problems with arrays, drawings, and counters to give everyone a physical model. Everyone got hungry as we figured out how to divide brownies equally - a fun exploration in division and fractions.
What a pleasure it was to meet with parents on Monday. I always leave conferences with a renewed understanding of our students and gratitude for the experience that we are giving them.
One of the beautiful aspects of a multi-age classroom is how the younger kids seem to learn by osmosis. The littlest kids are learning the skip counting songs, with no teachers involved whatsoever! In class, the k-1 students are working to visualize addition and subtraction, either on a number line or the 100 number chart. We played the Bunny Hop game and Race to 100. Ask your children about how to play these games and maybe you could play them over break.
In Spanish, we have been learning the words for the weather. Next week, we are going to be learning the names for people in the family.
Magic and Imagination
Our children have been building fairy houses and shelters in the woods since the beginning of the year, and in the last few weeks, we've had some visitors coming through. Harold T. Gnome and Susie the Frog have stayed in our shelter. There have been notes, a campfire circle, and special stools. Our children have responded with moss blankets, gifts of rosehips, and a cup of rainwater painstakingly collected from leaves. They built a mailbox, a bed, and a table. They used some of this same creativity with Nancy this week when they took her "storyteller's ball" and reshaped it into different objects. The children are practicing using their hands and the rest of their body to help make their storytelling really pop.
Theme: Human Body
We continued examining the systems of the body this week. The children observed, wrote, and drew kidneys, eyes, and hearts. They also started to make some of the organs that will make up their "body bags." It was a bit of a struggle to get our plastic bag and straw lungs up and running, prompting on child to observe, "There's nothing like duct tape for fixing a hole in your lung." We read in greater detail about the digestive system, our bones, and our muscles.