We added a puppet theater to our community room this week, and the excitement was palpable. Immediately lots of children wanted to perform. With a little discussion and negotiation, some went off to rehearse their shows while a few started performances. Other children took on the crucial role of being a good audience. The storytellers tapped into some of their lessons from Nancy, and worked to create a problem and then solve it. Their performances were well crafted to their audience, sending their peers into fits of giggles, and the applause at the end was heartfelt. It was great microcosm of our learning - the problem solving, the collaboration, and the satisfaction of a job well done.
This week started with the Pre-K outside (on an unseasonably warmer day this week) for the read-aloud Gregory's Shadow on the upper deck. Of course this led to trying to catch our shadows, jumping on each other's shadows, and creating shadow puppets. The fascination with one's shadow at this age is exhilarating in the darkest days of winter (when a little sunlight brings simple gratefulness and joy). The children weaved in their learning of the letter 'S' throughout the week reciting 'See-Saw Margery Daw' and going back and forth with a partner, singing the 'Sammy Seal' song, molding with dough, coloring, painting in the air/writing on chalkboards their upper and lower case 's' and coming up with their own words that start with the 's' sound. Patting some soft fur led us to discussing different ways things can feel and the sense of touch. We got some good scissor practice as we cut out things we can touch as well as shapes to paste onto our groundhog puppets. After reading The Snowy Day, more than one child found a stick and was seen smacking a snow-covered tree during Friday Forest recess! We concluded our talk about shadows by playing a game where we shadow our friend ('mirror game') and sat for a shadow silhouette of our profiles. Free play is alive with our youngest exploring bead necklaces, pretending the puppet theater is a lemonade stand with older students (and burger restaurant), rice bin 'gem' excavating, horses alongside marble-runs, easel painting, and some impressive fort creations (groundhog burrows naturally).
Tuesday afternoon was a whirlwind of activity as our scientists attempted to organize their questions, hypotheses, materials lists, procedures, results, and conclusions. There was some confusion about the order of these steps, and we got to review the scientific method many times. Each duo arranged their work on a piece of poster board, and we practiced what we would say during the science symposium. We talked about how it was okay to say, "I don't know," and that it is also okay to make an educated guess, "I think that..." On Wednesday our family community came to school and asked the children to explain their work. They were proud to share what they had done, and many children shared ideas with me about future projects they have in their sights. "Next year, I want to figure out what is inside seeds that let's them grow." I'll be curious to see how their ideas develop and change over time.
Playing with Math
I believe in practicing facts until they are automatic. I also believe that we have lots of fun ways to do this. Theresa had the children practicing different types of counting (by 2's, 3's, 5's, 10's) while playing "Ghost in the Graveyard" outside. My math class was rolling dice to get to 100. Each roll required them to add the 2 dice, and take the appropriate place value blocks. They could turn in any 10 cubes (ones) for a long (ten). Once they had 10 tens, they could trade them in for a flat (hundred). It's a simple game, but they were engaged and actively learning. We also played a money game that had them changing bills for bigger ones and paying money for everything from taxes to something to eat.