Friday, January 13, 2017

Antler, Bear, Canoe

Here is the hill,
All covered with snow.
We jump on our sleds,
And ZOOOOM down we go!

The children were sure excited to play in all the snow this week!


On Monday afternoon, all of Lower School attended a concert put on by an African Music Ensemble from Macalester College.  The ensemble sang songs that included a variety of different drums and rhythms, flutes, xylophones, dancing and more.  The leader of the group took moments to teach the children about the different instruments and stories behind the traditional dancing.  At the end, the children were invited to dance on stage!

More weekly highlights...

The marble run is back!  Right before break, the children completed a marble run challenge in the project room, which they loved!  The marble run material is now in the classroom and it is fun to watch the children design and explore together with it now that they have experience with the process.  They constructed some pretty intricate marble runs this week and practiced finding new ways to get the marble from the top to the bottom.


We reviewed shapes by creating them on geoboards with rubber bands.  We practiced creating triangles, squares, rectangles and trapezoids (to name a few) and reviewed the traits that define each shape such as a triangle has three sides and points.  They especially liked making designs and pictures with many shapes and lines.  The geoboards have been quite popular this week and are wonderful for geometric shape exploration and another great outlet for creative expression.


The children have been busy writing books at our class book making station. At the station we have paper, pencils and a stapler.  They can choose the amount of pages they want for their book as they write and draw.  They have been busy writing books about animals, events that have happened to them, pretend stories and even music!  They are beginning to add more letter sounds and sentences with their work too.  Some books might include just illustrations or an initial sound that goes along with the picture, while others include a few words or sentences.  All are successful in building those important early literacy and writing skills as they illustrate and verbally share their work.

As the children's knowledge of sounds and letters continues to develop, we have been talking more about vowels.  The children have learned that vowels are special letters which help spell words.  We looked at all of the letters in our names this week and noticed that all of our names have at least one vowel in them, but some have two and even three!  They especially love a new song in order to help remember the vowels and their corresponding sounds.  Our song helps us recognize that vowels each have two sounds just like in the words apple and acorn or eagle and egg.

During free choice time, they have been loving a memory game where they practice taking turns, sharing and good sportsmanship.  They always make sure to tell their friend they are playing with "good game" or "great job" when they finish.  Games like these where children have to practice patience and taking turns are helping to build important social and emotional skills.

We began our study of Minnesota this week using our books Antler, Bear, Canoe and M is for Minnesota.  We reviewed our continent and United States map, locating Minnesota.  We found Minneapolis, St. Paul and even located places further north such as the Boundary Waters and Duluth.  The children are very inquisitive when it comes to learning about our state and their natural curiosity raises excellent questions.  Our books also led to discussions about Minnesota Animals.  They enjoyed learned about antlered animals that live in Minnesota, such as the deer and moose.  We compared and contrasted a real moose and deer antler noting the different sizes, shape, textures, weight and more.  We talked about how animals might use their antlers.  They thought the moose might use its antler to shovel because it is shaped like one.   They also thought animals might use them to protect themselves! The children have loved observing them with magnifying glasses and think that it would be pretty hard to carry those antlers around on their head all day!

We spend time as a group each day reading and sharing in discussion of books that are fiction and non-fiction.  The children enjoy reading both types of books and know that fiction is pretend and non-fiction is true.  After observing and learning about Minnesota antlered animals, we read a fiction book titled Imogene's Antlers, which is about a little girl who wakes up one morning and she has antlers on her head!  After the story, we all shared how we would feel if we woke up with antlers on our head, highlighting different emotions and facial expressions.  Some examples included mad, excited, happy and surprised.  We shared experiences when we have felt these different emotions as well.  We all took pictures showing the facial expression we would feel if we woke up with big antlers on our head and illustrated antlers on our pictures!  It was a great opportunity to review different words that can describe the way we are feeling, which is important for young children as the build the vocabulary to express themselves emotionally.  A few examples....

Our Minnesota books also led to a discussion about animals that hibernate during the winter.  We read the book Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner, which is a beautifully illustrated book that teaches children what different forrest animals are doing throughout this season.   They learned that bears, snakes, beavers, turtles and even bats hibernate!  The children especially liked learning about the different places an animal might hibernate such as in a cave or under ground.  Once the weather warms up a bit, we plan to go animal tracking around our Breck campus to see what animals are AWAKE during the winter!

The children were introduced to a variety of different animals for play exploration.  They have been busy using blocks and other materials to create habitats for them.  They have made caves for bears, lakes for loons and trees for owls and other birds to perch on.  It is truly so fun to watch the children tell stories through the animals.  Imaginative play exploration is wonderful for building language and vocabulary and it's where they become story tellers.


As part of a collaboration with Mrs. Mazion, our music teacher, the children are exploring story telling through music, which combines our preschool literacy work with what the children are learning about in music.  Mrs. Mazion is sharing xylophones with us in the project room so the children can explore different sounds and rhythms that go along with stories we are studying.  We read the classic book A Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and talked about places that music could help tell the story.  There were many great places that music helped tell the story such as when the little boy climbs up the hill and slides down or when he is making different foot prints in the snow.  We also practiced making up songs to go a long with our names!  Our next step might be creating our own stories with music...we will see where the children want to take it!

We honored and celebrated the life of Martin Luther King Jr. through books and an art project the children completed in Artville.  Each child thought about a dream for our world and illustrated a picture of it.  They put wonderful thought into their pictures and they are currently on display outside the classroom.  A few examples...

What a week!

Dates to Remember:

Monday, January 16th- Martin Luther King Jr. Day- No School

Monday, January 23rd- Visit from the Raptor Center

A Look Ahead to February:

Wednesday, February 1st- Lower School CARE shirt day

Tuesday, February 14th- Valentine's Day Celebration

Friday, February 17th- Faculty Workshop-No School

February 20th- Presidents' Day- No School

Have a great long weekend!


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