Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Rainbow Fish

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School is almost out!  The washing of the toys is almost done and ready for next years group of students, it's hot and amidst plays and performances, assemblies and Play-Days, we're trying to maintain some scheduling and routine.  How are we doing that?  By doing some fun, but still educational activities.  Earlier in the year we read Shel Silverstein's 'The Giving Tree.'  We read this story during Lent to remind us that happiness comes from giving, not from receiving.  We just recently read Marcus Pfister's "The Rainbow Fish."  When I mentioned that this story reminded me of another story we had read together, the students were quick to point out the stories, and how they were alike.  We discussed times we had shared and given to others, and how that made us feel (happy, proud).  We also talked about other qualities we like in a friend, and that if you want to have friends - you have to be a good friend.  We used our pencils to draw our own rainbow fish.  We traced them with permanent markers and used water-colours to paint our fish.  They turned out so well!

I love how, although each student made a Rainbow Fish, each one is unique and special, just like the kids in my class!  This has been our first year with Full-Day Kindergarten, and we will be keeping our JK students into SK.  Since it is a two year developmental program, the students will remain with the same teacher for the whole duration of the program.  I am so excited to see them continue to develop and grow next year.  Our SK's are so ready to move on to Grade One, and we will miss them dearly!  Wishing everyone a great summer!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Butterfly Release! This was amazing!!!

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We had learned all about the butterfly lifecycle, and what better way to experience something than to see it happen before your eyes.  I read this Let's Read and Find Out Science Reader entitled "From Caterpillar to Butterfly."  In this story, the students in the class receive caterpillars in a jar, and are anxiously waiting for them to change or go through metamorphasis.  This book is great at explaining key vocabulary appropriate for early learners.  We learned that although our skin grows with us, a caterpillar's skin does not.  Instead, it molts about 3 or 4 times.  It sheds its skin and has a new one underneath.  We actually saw this in our real-life observations.  We learned that the caterpillar hangs from a button of silk, which enables it to attach without falling off the the branch (or in our case, lid of the container).  Before we got our larvae delivery, I explained that we were going to be just like the kids in the book, discovering the life-cycle of the butterfly right before our very eyes.

After the caterpillars made their cocoons on the top lids of the containers they were in, we put them in this hand-made netting.  It's made with paper plates on either ends, and tulle wrapped securely around.  A large branch gives it stability and is suspended in the middle.  We cinched the ends with clips and attached it to the ceiling.  We put it in a spot everyone could view, but not such a high-traffic area that it would be bumped and jostled with our daily activities.

The cocoons before they hatched.  They shook at times, but that button of silk held fast!

One of the several Painted Lady Butterflies after hatching (the butterfly in the story was also a Painted Lady!).

 We sliced up oranges for them to feed on once they had hatched out of the chrysalis.  The Science Reader explained that the butterflies eat through a long coiled tube called a proboscis.  We actually saw them eating, which was so amazing!  The proboscis was as long as one of their legs and went directly into the orange!  So cool!  The red you see in the picture, is the dye that came off their wings as they began to dry.  

 Here we are outside in our rock garden about to release the butterflies.  Just like the students in the book, we were a little happy and a little sad.  We were glad the butterflies were going to be out in nature, their true and natural home, but we were also going to miss learning and observing them each day!

We knew they were ready to find their true home because a few of them kept escaping into the classroom.  They were ready to fly!

Off they go!  I had to cover the faces, but the kid's expressions were just priceless as they saw the butterflies take flight!  Look closely at the little guy to the extreme left!  Mouth gaping open, his face was full of wonder and excitement!  Priceless!

Hope your day is full of wonder and excitement too!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Living things are...interesting!

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 We learned about living and non-living things recently.  We started out by discovering the characteristics of living things.  My Characteristics posters from my Living Things Posters pack were great visuals that helped the kids remember and describe how they knew something was alive.  We used what we learned to make a class book (it's a little torn and tattered because the kids love to read it during self-selected reading!)

We used these Alphabet File Folder booklets (which I had made years ago).  These booklets are a favorite at our writing centre.  They contain several words that begin with that particular letter.  The kids each got a letter of the alphabet.  They took the Alphabet File Folder booklet corresponding with their letter and had to find one object that was alive and one that wasn't within the book and use the words to complete their activity page.

 Because we had learned about the characteristics of living things (they breathe, grow and change, etc.), the kids were so good at distinguishing between objects that are living and non-living.

The trouble with discussing living things with 5 year olds is you can get into some funny conversations and you don't want to crush their sense of wonder and amazement and sometimes, the belief in the 'imaginary.' My own daughter, who falls within this age group asked me not too long ago, "Mom, where in the world is Arendelle?"  When I asked what she meant, she responded, "you know, where Anna and Elsa live?"  Living and non-living kind of fits in with the idea of real versus imaginary.  One of the littles in my class who had the letter "Ee" to contribute to our class book asserted that an elf was a living thing.  When my student teacher was about to correct her, my kindie continued very confidently "you know, an elf!!! He lives with Santa up in the North Pole!"  Who can argue with that!  And so, I'd say we got the concept of 'living things' for the most part!

We then branched out into talking about plants as living things.  We discussed how plants display all the characteristics of living things.  We learned how plants make food (in their leaves) and how they show sensitivity (towards the sun).  We planted our own bean sprouts and watched them grow.  We noted our observations in our Plant Journal from Mrs. Ricca.  The kids would go to the window each day to see their plant grow and change, from tiny sprouts to very tall plants.

Here are some of our observations.
I planted 3 bean seeds.

My plant is growing beans.

I planted a seed and it grew into leaves.

My plant is tall.

And just last week we got a special delivery - larvae.  These tiny caterpillars came to our school and were put in containers slightly bigger than a creamer container you'd get from the coffee shop.  They came with 'food.' Well something amazing happened over the weekend...they got huge!!!  
And so we will branch into another area of living things...the life cycle of a butterfly!  We can't wait to see the metamorphosis happen before our eyes!