Early Childhood

This week, Early Childhood set out to make their own paper using the beautiful colors we see out in nature this time of the year. The first step was to gather recycled paper and tear or cut it into small pieces. Then, Early Childhood students went outside and carefully picked off the flowers from plants growing alongside the school’s parking lot. Yellow dandelion flowers and purple phlox petals were added to the small pieces of paper. The flowers and paper were mixedwith water and churned up in the blender to create a pulp like mixture. The mixture was then added to a large bin filled with an inch of water. Next, it was time to form the sheets. Students took turns gently submerging a wooden frame with a screen stretched across beneath the pulp. Upon lifting it back out, they were left with a thin layer of the pureed ingredients atop the screen. Lastly, students flipped the frame over atop a piece of felt and sponged the excess water out. All that was left to do was wait for it to dry.

While the intention was to allow the colors from the plants dictate the color of the paper, we found that though the hues of yellow and purple from the flowers added accents to the paper, they didn’t have much influence on the overall color. When the paper was dry and I was removing the first sheet from the felt, I realized that some of our pieces were inadvertently tinged green from the green felt it was dried on. Upon seeing what had happened, I let out a sigh of disappointment and an exclamation of “oh no!” When the students came over to see what the fuss was about and saw the color, they were delighted! “It’s green!” they shouted with a sense of awe on their faces. What I perceived as a mistake, they perceived as a lovely surprise. When all was said and done we produced a pile of our own paper. Some tinged green and some all white but all beautiful paper that incorporated our natural surroundings!

Thank you to Heather and Colleen for coming to our classroom to celebrate Mason's birthday and Gavin's birthday with special stories and snacks! Happy birthday Mason and Gavin!

Kindergarten

The first kindergarten—the children’s garden—conceived by German educator Friedrich Froebel in the 19th century, was a place where children learned through play, often in nature. At PCS, we try very hard to make sure this concept doesn’t erode or get replaced by rows of desks and worksheets.  But this isn’t to say that literacy and math skills are not necessary, it’s just that you won’t find our kindergarteners sitting at desks filling in worksheets day in and day out. Rather, the literacy and math lessons are integrated naturally in response to the children’s interests. Natural and real world opportunities present themselves all the time if you know how to look for them. This week our Kindergarteners read the back of seed packets to read instructions for how deep and far apart to plant each seed and took rulers out to practice this real world application of measuring in the garden.  Creating lists of everything needed to grow a plant provided an actual and practical application for organized and purposeful writing. Worksheets and workbook pages are gently sprinkled in to allow for more practice and individual accountability, but the children work on these at their pace, choosing the pages they want to tackle next, thus giving a sense of ownership and accomplishment. 

Lingering, watching and listening to what the children are doing and saying is what guides the day and hints at what the next entry point for each child could be.  One child might need more running and tumble outside while another might be deep in thought turning the pages in a book, yet another is intent on finishing every single page of their math workbook. Honoring each child’s needs is what helps them to grow and what gives them an appetite for more. We are always watching for those moments when a child seems to have a feeling of stick-to-it-ness or grit. Whether it is building with blocks, creating a game outside or working quietly through a book, when we see a child immersed and in their zone, this is when we have to leave them alone to figure things out. When children seem to be “bouncing off the walls”, or “fidgeting in their chairs” the solution is not to ask children to sit still rather, we have to remove the walls and take away the chairs. In kindergarten at PCS, mastering puddle jumping and hole digging is just as important as learning letters. 

The end of kindergarten is a time when children are literally ‘taking off’ with learning, craving more and more. And, as if on cue, the outdoors responds with one of the most stimulating seasons. A season of digging in the dirt, rolling in the grass, jumping in puddles, smelling the rain, tasting the first herbs in the garden, tickling chins with dandelions, discovering insects, and seeing all the opportunities for new growth and learning.

With so few days left to the school year, please let me know if you would like to come in to build, play, dig, cook, or just be with the kindergarteners. We would love to have you. Perhaps you have a project in mind? Let us know! We would love your help in the garden.

Lower Primary

This week Lower Primary students continued their study on changes to the earth by learning about weathering and erosion.  Weathering is the breaking down of rocks and minerals by physical, chemical, or biological processes, while erosion is a kind of change that happens when wind and water move rocks and soil.  First, the students had the opportunity to explore several pictures of rocks and minerals that have been affected by weathering.  As observations ensued, conversations developed and Lower Primary students were engaged in meaningful discussions about the greater effect that weathering has on our earth.  Students began a cause and effect project that allowed them to gain a deeper understanding.  Many students created pictures and diagrams to show the cause and effect of weathering, while others chose to write down their thoughts and ideas.  To explore erosion, Lower Primary students had the opportunity to be involved in an erosion experiment.  After learning that water can play a key role in erosion, students implemented their new found knowledge on a mineral rock.  They studied and recorded the rock before erosion took place.  Then, using a hose, each student had the opportunity to spray the rock.  When the experiment was complete, the resulting rock was left with a large hole.  Discussions then began and students were fascinated to think about the larger picture, erosion happening on our earth and the impact that it could have.  

Our S.T.E.A.M. engineering challenge of creating a shelter that can withstand an earthquake is now complete.  On Friday, Lower Primary students had the opportunity to put their designs to the test as we created an earthquake table and simulated an earthquake.  The structures that were created by the students were very well designed.  Each was required to have four walls, 15 centimeters or more in height and width, and a roof.  As students began to shake the earthquake table, we found that many of the shelters fell over.  We talked about how to make a solid base or foundation that would provide extra support during an earthquake.  Lower primary students came up with several ideas on how to improve each shelter.  They worked together to problem solve and find solutions.  

Other exciting explorations include:

Multiplication in math group B

Subtraction with regrouping in math group A

Spanish with Johanna

Lunch outside in the sunshine

Early morning Tai Chi

Soccer in Wellness

*Reminder- If your child chose to create a science fair project, the tri-fold display board is due on Tuesday, May 17th.  Students will be presenting their project on Thursday, May 19th from 2-3pm.  

Upper Primary

Converting abstract ideas into a concrete form can be a daunting task. However, it is not surprising that Upper Primary students approach such tasks with little hesitation. They are natural thinkers. Natural explorers. Natural investigators. They do not enter into a new study with a need to know it all immediately. They have cultivated an appreciation for the sense of wonder. They appreciate the process. They appreciate how it feels to figure something out on their own. They celebrate when they learn something new, and share it. They, themselves, become teachers. This is learning. Authentic learning doesn’t flow in one direction. It takes collaboration, communication, and creativity. In-depth understanding and true learning comes from being accepting of not knowing where your journey will take you. True learning is being okay with feeling uncertain, trusting yourself and pushing through to get to the understanding. Upper Primary students navigate their studies in their own way, in their own time, because no one’s learning path is quite like anyone else’s.

For the past two weeks students have been researching and conceptualizing the abstract idea of geological time. To help make this idea more of a concrete one, students created geologic timelines across a wall in the classroom. They divided off sections of one billion years, and then determined what 10 million and 1 million years would convert to on their scale. Next they added eras and time periods. Slowly but surely they began placing evolutionarily meaningful events in Earth’s history onto their timelines. Mapping out geologic time in this way paints a clearer picture, allowing students to understand not only when things happened but also how they are interconnected. Next, students will be looking deeper into how evolutionary events correspond to other types of events during the history of life; how extinctions affect the evolution of organisms that survive the event; and how geologic changes influenced evolutionary events. What is lovely about all of this is that we will have a greater respect and understanding of the exhibits we will see at the Museum of Natural History. While students may have previously visited some of the same exhibits we will be touring through, they will do so now with a greater appreciation for what they see and an understanding of each exhibit’s place in time and what important events it connects to.

Below is a link to pictures from our visit to Sylvia Hommert's studio on Shelter Island. This week Sylvia will join us at PCS as we create our own art using Sylvia's method. 

https://drive.google.com/a/peconiccommunityschool.org/folderview?id=0BztHC9z_hYRhaHdxOEFWcjFmSjg&usp=sharing

Posted
AuthorAshley Millerd