Tapping into Knowledge and Building On
When we start a new theme we almost always begin by having the children generate a list of things they already know. It gives us a good idea of where to begin, misconceptions that need to be corrected, and areas of particular interest. We're activating our previous knowledge which then gives us an easier way to add in the new knowledge we gain. We use this same learning pattern in math and literacy, asking kids to make connections to what they know so we can keep building on. It's the way we build our routines, our understanding of spelling, and our social interactions with each other.
Fall was all around us this week with children gathering acorns and "stupendous leaves" (one child's descriptor). During our adventure walk, children have been hard at work on shelters and pretending to be bears and hibernating. Reading The Plumply Dumply Pumpkin got us all inspired to make some paper pumpkins and write about everything from pumpkin cars to Halloween parties. After numerous letters back and forth, we had a tea party in the woods with Harold T Gnome and his friends. The children were tickled to see him again and claimed it was the best tea they had ever had. I can't help but think it was all about the setting.
Learning About Animals
It's difficult for us to take many of our typical field trips right now, but we were pleased to have wildlife rehabilitator Kelly Martin come and talk to both of our classes this past week. She helped students review the defining characteristics of reptiles, birds, and mammals while sharing about the work she does. Our kids came up with some really interesting questions as well. "Why don't all turtles swim?" "Why doesn't a weasel need to worry about predators?" "Why do birds lay eggs?" They had some far ranging conversations about evolution, habitats, and adaptations. I loved how they tapped into past lessons they have learned with Nancy (our favorite nature educator and storyteller). The conversations continued over the course of the day and while we worked on thank you letters for Kelly.
Exploring the Human Body: PK-2nd Grade Theme
Our scientists are at work learning about their bodies. We've looked at the respiratory system and the locomotor system (muscles and skeleton). We've been using a variety of sources for our information including a number of books and resources kids brought from home. This week we read: The Little Brainwaves Investigate... Human Body, Bones, and A Tour of Your Muscular and Skeletal Systems. We did some exploring around our body to find different bones, joints, and ligaments. We even started an experiment where we put chicken bones in various liquids to see how they might change over time.
Reflections on 3rd - 6th Graders from Theresa
Attention! Attention ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, I am please to announce: We have a ROUTINE!
It is not perfect, and it is not set in stone, but it is definitely there. The kids are doing their computer work daily. There are two articles that go home every week. They are doing workbook pages in their math books. For the most part, most of the kids know what they have to do, every day, both at school and at home.
This is a solid beginning, and now we are going to start adding new items to our weekly schedule. This week, we are going to add on "Writing" and "History." I am adding both of these items to the checklist for work at home, and the kids will also have a "Writing Plan" sheet in their folders, to help keep that project moving forward.
A Few Updates:
US History. I had planned to study US history with the kids this year, but all of the curriculum I ordered is just a little bit too hard. We are instead going to use "Liberty Kids" which is an exciting cartoon version of US history. Each week, the kids will be assigned one episode that they can watch on YouTube, There will be supplementary reading and questions.
Time Capsule: We have approval from the Director of the Old Stone Fort, but she now has to get approval from the board of Trustees. I sent a letter to their board. Their next meeting isn't until Mid November, but I think that they might consider it before that.
I was really glad to check in with each family last week. I know it is not perfect, but it does feel like we are moving forward.