One of our younger students was really excited about a tracking book he got over break, and his excitement was contagious. At recess and during our adventure walk, the children were scattering across the snow trying to identify who had been there before. Meanwhile our older students had captured some great pictures on their trail cameras of some of the inhabitants of our woods. We looked in that area knowing we were looking for the tracks of raccoons, fox, a fisher, and even a bobcat. We followed lines of tracks to figure out where animals came from and noticed where some deer slipped in the snow, extending their tracks in parallel lines. Inspired by all of this interest, we got out our set of track stencils and tracks for rubbings. The children carefully collected different ones and labeled them. We also read Animal Tracks.
I love how even when we have to split the school into two parts, they come together in different ways. A few of our older kids left some sticky notes with messages for the younger ones. The younger ones were tickled to find the snow "camel" created by the older ones on Monday and Tuesday. It quickly became a new favorite climbing place. Whether we are learning more about our animal neighbors or playing in the snow, their excitement builds on each other.
Every January we take the month to dive into the scientific method. Last week each child picked a topic, created a testable question, made a hypothesis, and developed a materials list. We shared our questions in small groups, and I was so tickled to hear our experienced scientists asking all the questions I would have. "What liquids are you using?" "How will you measure that?" "Are you just changing one thing or more than one thing?" Our kids are great at asking questions, but this sort of scientific thinking takes the questions to a new level. We read Measuring Penny to help us think about standard and non-standard units of measurement and all the many different things we can measure.
Books I Love
Many of the books I pick for our read-alouds relate directly to particular writing units (like when we wrote personal narratives) or themes. Sometimes I pick books to help us reflect on a problem I've seen at recess or during our work times. They are one of my favorite ways to explore social emotional learning. Lately I've just been picking some of my favorite books because in troubling times, sometimes we just need to laugh and feel good. This week we read Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Albert, Sherman Crunchley, I Lost My Bear, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Cow, and Martha Blah Blah. We also did a few Mad Libs. There was lots of laughter.
Theresa's Reflections on the 3rd - 6th Grade
The big kids have quickly re-adjusted to school. They have just begun research projects in Science, and in some sort of splendiferous cascade of consensus, they decided to do their research on the ocean. We are thinking of transforming the main room of the school into a model ocean, complete with multiple levels, diagrams of food chains and models of plants. Kids are writing their papers on a multitude of topics, including "Creatures of the Ocean," "The Natural History of the Ocean," and "Solving the Ocean's Pollution Crisis."
Kids are also working on their science projects. By now, each student should have a defined question, a hypothesis, and a plan to test their hypothesis. I see some exploding volcanoes in our futures.