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Activating Our Knowledge and Building On

When I mentioned that we were in a new month at circle time on Monday, a few of our kids immediately chimed in with, "March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb." This garnered some really confused looks from many of the other children, so we talked about what it meant, acted it out, and some of the kids even came up with a little song about it.. This is how we learn. We start with something we know and add to it. At our school, we try to give kids some different ways to grasp the information. We listen and read stories, write and draw, act out, sing, dance, and model. We try to figure out how to translate something into our hands, capturing the wind in a kite or shaping a letter into shaving cream. Then we do this again and again until it becomes part of what we know.

Cheryl's PreK Reflections

March blew in and preschoolers reveled in searching for signs of Spring whilst counting the days until the official first day (any way you practice counting we will do it!). We brought buds inside to force, talking about sun and water needing to help things grow. Our own classroom tree on our door received an addition of buds too naturally, as well as a 'sap bucket' after reading about the March Sap Moon. Shapes were explored through a fun book that illustrated how shapes are in our world everywhere, with a version of 'Duck Duck Goose' played including shape recognition. Q-tips and glue were a fun way for them to take their knowledge a step further and explore making shapes of their own.

We celebrated the March wind with kites (wind socks to be exact) being decorated and experimented with. Circle time, which is really the 'meat and potatoes' of preschool was joyful with more Spanish music (Guantanamera) as well as an interactive song about rain and horses (ask your child if they can sing them for you)! Spring fever has arrived and it's so nice to have it be a bit easier to get right outside- especially to swing "as high as the sun" and feel so proud of pumping our legs and not needing a "push like I did when I was little."

Read Across America

Dr. Seuss's birthday was the impetus for a day of some extra fun. Wearing our pajamas to school felt like a special treat, and then we made "Cat in Hat Kabobs," alternating red and white(ish) foods: tomatoes, mozzarella balls, strawberries, and bananas. The children did not just make the obvious sweet or savory stick - instead they made all sorts of different combinations. It was a nice chance to review what makes something a pattern and see who needs a little more work with that idea. Later, our older children served as buddy readers for our younger students - everyone had the chance to bring a favorite book to share. All of the teachers floated around feeling a little superfluous with everyone so obviously engaged in their reading.

Our Theme: Space

When we start a new theme, we often begin with a KWL chart. We ask the kids to activate their prior knowledge by telling us what they already "Know." Then we ask them what they "Want to Know." Later, we add the "L" of the chart by writing down some of what we have "Learned." It's useful for us as we shape the direction of the unit to know what our kids already understand, where they have holes in their knowledge, and what gets them really excited. They had so many questions about space: blackholes and astronauts and how do stars form and what makes earth so special.

We learned that while as a group, our kids could come up with the 8 planets of our solar system, many of them couldn't do it individually. The older kids made planet acronyms and looked up information to write in their planet books. Our kindergarten and first graders did a cut and paste solar system that prompted lots of questions about the colors of all the planets. They're also working on a song about the planets with each of them focusing on one specific planet in our solar system.

We'll be delving into some of their other questions in the weeks to come.

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