Outside this week, Early Childhood naturalist were busy finding worms aplenty. This pursuit of worms turned out to be an inadvertent way for students to demonstrate and continue practicing many of our Community Values. Great compassion, collaboration and respect were shown when students took the initiative to “rescue” worms on the pavement of the parking lot and find them a suitable home in the soil or sand. Patience and perseverance were required when explorers were digging in the garden soil or overturning tree stumps on the playground to find worms and examine them closely. Responsibility came into play when the time came to go inside. Despite the yearning of many to bring worms into the classroom inside a pocket or a gently closed fist, students came to recognize that it was their responsibility to take care of the worms and this meant returning them safely to their home.
Throughout the week, students have been checking in on the Bald Eagle nest in Washington D.C. (thank you Joe for sharing this!). Amid their adoration of the baby Eagles, they also marveled at the Eagle’s ability to create such an elaborate and beautiful nest out of sticks, twigs, and other natural items. We read the book Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis in which a piglet has turned a stick into wondrous things like a fishing pole or a paintbrush and then set off to collect as many sticks as possible. So far we have used the sticks to build the letters in the alphabet that use only straight lines. Students have ambitions to use the sticks to create an Early Childhood nest.
Early Childhood ushered in the new season of Spring through art. Artists used pinecones in an unusual way to depict the colorfulness of this time of the year. Upon turning the pinecones upside-down, we noticed that the bottoms of the pinecones resemble the petals of a flower. By painting the petals with bright colors, and painting a circle in the middle with a contrasting color, we were able to create a bright bouquet of flowers!
Spring is here, daylight is getting longer, the weather warmer, and the energy level in Kindergarten is rising! In anticipation of being outside a lot in the immediate future, Kindergarten used this week to do some spring cleaning in the classroom. Everyone worked collaboratively to clean out the fish tank, organize and sort books in the library, wash the cubbies inside and out and even rearrange the furniture. It has been my pleasure to listen to proposals made by the children and then help them come to fruition. Back in September, we started with a dress-up, pretend play area which, by midyear, transformed to a slightly more sophisticated work/play area with a light box and manipulatives. Just this week, the children explained that they did not have enough room at the tables (aka growing!) and so - we rearranged a bit, borrowed a table from another room, and set up a new work area. Listening to, watching, following, and honoring the children takes patience, and it is often tricky to cast our 'grown up' ideas of how something should be done or look aside. However, when we do, the rewards are great, and we learn so much from the children.
Math explorations had us doing more sorting and organizing. Why is it important to sort and organize? How do mathematicians do it? When do they do it? Moreover, how is sorting used in the real world? Kindergartners looked at a variety of objects, came up with vocabulary to describe the attributes of objects, and then created sorting 'rules'. Counting all the change collected so far in our interactive donation box provided a real world application for sorting and counting all the coins.
Don’t miss this opportunity to involve your children in some spring cleaning and organizing at home. Even simple tasks such as putting silverware away in the right spot or sorting socks can turn work into play. Be sure to ask them what their sorting rule is and remember to keep expectations child-friendly.
Here are a few things kids can do to help with spring cleaning at home:
REMINDER: PCS Yard Sale is on the calendar!
Curate artwork - Kids are prolific creators, but how many things can be hung on the fridge? Encourage kids to review their artwork and choose the standouts to showcase or store.
Tame toys - What is broken? What is outgrown?
Cull Clothing - Season switches are the perfect time to take a good look at wardrobes.
Collections - Kids are natural collectors; managing collections provides early lessons on personal responsibility and organizing.
Stuffed animals - There are veritable zoos in most kids’ rooms. How many do they need out all the time?
Dress up clothes - Why do costumes have such long shelf lives? Put some music on and have kids try on all the items in their collection. Pass on the pieces that are outgrown.
Art and craft supplies - Bins and drawers full of broken crayons, dried up markers and pens that don’t work? Sound familiar? For me, it was always three drawers in the kitchen. Something we do in the classroom: Grab a doodle pad and bring all the supplies to a table. Ask your child to have fun drawing and doodling while making quick decisions about what’s worth keeping and what’s not.
Sports equipment - Most equipment are used for one season and may still be in great condition afterward. However, a whole year goes by before it is needed it again, and children grow out of it.
FINALLY - Kindergarten is taking on the PCS GARDEN! With the help of a grant from the Josh Levine Memorial Foundation, AND a GO FUND ME page, we are purchasing lumber to make 4 large raised beds, acquire soil, and build a new fence. A HUGE THANK YOU to Shamus's dad who stepped up right away to help with this project. ANOTHER HUGE THANK YOU to Shamus's mom and Lucy Senesac, our Master Gardener through Edible School Gardens, who have donated all the seeds. WE NEED HELP SAWING, HAMMERING, BUILDING AND GROWING! STAY TUNED FOR ONE DATE COMING SOON TO BUILD THE BEDS AFTER SCHOOL. (we're watching the weather). DO YOU have a connection so we can get soil donated? How about fencing? Here is the link to the Go Fund Me page - please share it with all your friends. Of course, anyone can always go to the PCS website to make a donation as well. Be sure to put for the kinderGARDEN in the comment section. THANK YOU! FEELING EXCITED AND GRATEFUL!
This week, Lower Primary students were faced with the question, How does the earth change? As they reflected on this question, meaningful discussions evolved and students became passionate about their thoughts and ideas. We discussed that changes to the earth can be very slow and take many years to even notice, while others can come fast and impact the earth greatly. The students generated a list of several natural disasters that can happen in an instant and effect the earth. Going forward, we will continue our research and discussions on these disturbances and hone in on each one to gain additional information.
Although the astronomy unit has ended, students in Lower Primary have one more S.T.E.A.M. project to complete. This week, students began designing and creating a landing pod for their rovers. The rovers will be “released” on Mars and need to land safely from a distance of 2 meters. The rovers will need to land right side up, carrying an egg that represents people and supplies. If the egg does not crack and the rover lands right side up, students will have completed the challenge successfully.
In math this week we continued our exploration of counting coins. Students were exposed to a variety of games and activities this week to practice their coin counting. Next week we will be setting up a store in the classroom. Encourage your child to count coins at home!
This week Upper Primary was introduced to the concepts of plate tectonics and continental drift. Students learned how this theory, which explains the position of Earth's continents, was first established and about its supportive evidence. During the course of their explorations about continental drift, students discovered that at one time in Earth’s history, there was only one supercontinent, called Pangaea, and that this single land mass broke apart to form the seven continents on Earth today. Utilizing fossil evidence, records of soil composition and the continents’ shapes, students attempted to rearrange the continents to recreate the landmass of Pangaea which existed 250 million years ago. Students viewed a cross section of the Earth noting is layers and identifying their composition. They learned that the Earth's crust is composed of a number of individual plates that change shape and position over time due to the convection currents in the mantle. Students researched about the geophysical evidence which indicates that the face of Earth's surface has changed significantly since its initial formation and that the plates on which the continents are located are in constant motion. They discovered that the movement of the plates is responsible for the formation of ocean basins, mountain ranges, islands, volcanoes, and earthquakes. Students tested out the three types of plate boundaries: convergent, divergent, and transform. Using clay, students simulated the four actions that happen at these boundaries to see what happens as plates push, pull and slide toward, away and past each other. In small groups, students worked together to document their observations. The images students captured were compiled to generate a stop-motion film showcasing the movements and what resulted from the interactions.
You can view the Plate Boundaries stop-motion at the link below: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BztHC9z_hYRhbzNEdUNDWGp0c0U/view?usp=sharing
Pictures from the Chef to Schools program that began this week can be viewed using the link below: