Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Bug Farm
May 19 - June 16, 2015

Throughout the school year, we have noticed the children’s ongoing  interest in the many different creatures that we have in our outside yard: roly-polies, worms, ladybugs, spiders, pincher-bugs, butterflies, dragonflies, hummingbirds, gophers, and salamanders are a few of the critters we share our space with and have observed. To enhance the children’s understanding of some of these creatures, we have introduced a Bug Farm filled with roly polys, salamanders, beetles, and worms into our Science Area! Many of the children have been very proactive in “hunting for bugs” during their outside time, and have found bugs underneath the planter boxes and in the dirt! Because of the children’s immense interest in bugs (roly polies, especially), we decided to keep their collections in a small plastic container with soil, old fruit, rocks and sticks. The children now have a place to keep their new “friends” inside the classroom! Our intention in creating a bug farm in our classroom is to allow the children to continue asking questions about the bugs, to explore and find out more about the bugs’ features, and to explore nature and other living things!




During our inside time, I invited 5 children at a time to to the table and asked them to take care of 1 roly poly each. On our first day, I noticed right away the children’s excitement, nervousness, and curiosity about the bugs: some were ready to grab multiple bugs at a time, others screamed and yelled, while others stood and observed from a distance. As we took out the roly-polies each day, I noticed that the children who were frequently returning to the Bug Farm table were becoming more and more comfortable holding them, picking them up from the floor when they fell, and taking initiative in watching over their bug so they wouldn’t get squished or lost. Some children even gave their roly-poly a name and started to bring materials over to the table to create homes for them. They used wooden blocks, sticks, grip liner paper, toilet paper rolls, rocks, and shells to create shelters for the bugs on the table. We also had our occasional squished bug, but the children were able to talk through how it happened, and how we can keep them from getting squished in the future. As the weeks have progressed, I’ve noticed how careful the children are with their chosen bug, and how much more comfortable they are examining them up close! They have asked so many insightful and thoughtful questions that I am excited to keep this project going during the next few weeks!


Overall, our Bug Farm table has been an exciting success! The children have returned to the table consistently, with some of the children getting more comfortable and less reluctant to hold and touch the bugs! The children who have been consistently coming to our table, Ace and Paul, have asked many questions that I don’t know how to answer, so we have been researching on the computer together during our table time! They have been taking turns with each other at the computer, and are proactive on what we should search next! During our outside time, I’ve also noticed more and more of the children are not afraid to check under the planter boxes and dig in the dirt for bugs! We plan to further the children’s interests in these creatures by getting a bigger bug farm tank, exploring the “Big Yard” for different kinds of bugs, and continuing to look at resources online to expand our knowledge on bugs.

“Exposure to insects and small garden animals promotes focused observation and data collection. In addition, children can practice using the tools needed to gather and convey new discoveries. They can use the language of measurement; compare, contrast, and classify; and engage in the charting and graphing of eating and growth patterns as they interact with and care for their critters.”


References

Hachey, A., & Butler, D. (2012, March 1). Creatures In The Classroom:  Including Insects and Small Animals in Your Preschool Gardening Curriculum. Retrieved June 8, 2015, from https://www.naeyc.org/tyc/files/tyc/file/V5N5/HacheyButler. Creatures in the Classroom.pdf  
“What Do You Notice About The Bugs?”
Tuesday May 25th - Tuesday June 9th

Fynn: It protects itself with his shell.

Ace: They have toys on their bodies.
Teacher Andrea: They have toys on their bodies? What does that look like?
Ace: The toys that look like small eggs like a egg pouch.

Paul: They got small eggs. They got small antennas! Teacher, look at the baby ones, they’re yellow!

Sofia: I know they stick to stuff

Anya: (watching the roly poly) It’s so fast!

Kaylin: I notice that the baby roly poly can’t stay on our hands very well. They want to stay with their daddy. I also notice that the babies can die very well.

Chloe: The roly roly is tickling me!

Ariana: Some have babies

Saoirse: I can trap him!

Grace: I know why it sticks to things… because I think it has glue

Colin: They’re smaller.
Teacher Andrea: How did the salamander get dried up?
Matthew: He went to a campfire and got burned in the fire. He walked all the way there and he got burned!

-Andrea

Basketball
June 11th, 2015
With the recent success of the Golden State Warriors, there has been a strong interest in playing basketball during our outside time. Both the boys and girls have been interested in organizing a basketball game. The first couple of days consisted of children exploring basketball by running around the yard with the ball and shooting.  They soon began to familiarize one another about basketball through conversation and by recalling what they observed on TV or during a basketball game of a friend/family member.
In doing so, many of the children had difficulty with waiting for a turn with the basketball, being comfortable with the team they were on, and being aware of what may or may not be safe. After acknowledging some of the challenges, we decided to come up with our own rules. The group seemed to show lots of excitement with this and by the end of our outside time, they had come up with 9 rules of their own!
Basketball Rules:
1.)  No hitting
2.) No holding the net
3.) No kicking
4.) Remember to take turns
5.) No blocking the basket
6.) No cheating
7.) Pass the ball
8.)Don’t grab the ball
9.) No crying when the other team wins

This activity has also created a great time to develop math skills. While creating teams, the children are independently recognizing how many children are on each team and if the teams are even. If they’re not, the group has to add/subtract someone to balance the teams. At one point, one team had 2 children while the other team had 4 children. Ian stated “Hey that’s not fair. You have more!” The group then collaborated and decided to have one child join the team of 2. 

Basketball has also encouraged some children to step out of their comfort zone and take on a leadership role! In doing so, children were able to support one another in taking turns, verbalizing their ideas, and coming up with solutions.
My intention for recognizing the challenges and encouraging the children to write their own rules was to support the children who were having difficulty joining and maintaining interactions with the group. I also wanted to show them that they could come up with rules and have success organizing the games independently. Initially I wrote down the rules on a piece of paper and Ethan wrote them with chalk on the ground. The following day, we revisited the rules by having each child write a rule on the Basketball Rules list. This was an opportunity for children to become reacquainted with the rules they created and also a time for them to practice recognizing and writing letters. The rules also supported children in becoming more aware of the space around them, which assisted in developing boundaries and safer interactions within the group.As the children continue to show an interest in basketball, we will encourage them to resolve conflicts independently, add to the rules list, and inclusion of all children.   
Research states “Everything we know about how young children learn points to the facts that children bring their bodies with them wherever they go and use them for learning and expression. Yet, there has been a trend in education to take away dance, movement, and physical education in favor of a focus on “seat work”. Physical education is thought of as a way to build the body, not mind, when in fact, children readily use their bodies as tools to explore ideas and feelings.” (Learning Together with Young Children, A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter Pg. 157)
Citation:
Curtis, Deb and Carter,Margie. Learning Together with Young Children, A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers. pg.157
-Stephanie



Clay Sculptures June 5, 2015

As our exploration of clay has continued, the children have developed their skills in effectively manipulating the clay. Over the past several weeks, the children mastered the process of rolling clay balls, attaching clay pieces together and manipulating the clay with their hands and fingers to create varying shapes, sizes and textures. We also explored how adding water to the clay changed the consistency and texture of the clay. The children experimented with spray bottles with water and noticed the following changes in the clay:

Mackenzie: “It feels weird
when it gets wet!”
Ace: “It’s like a car wash.”
Mackenzie: “It gets on your
hands. It feels good. I love this feel. So good!”
Grace: “It feels soft.”
Mason: “It might spill on
your shirt.”
Mackenzie: “It’s going to get
soggy.”
Rachelle: “What does soggy
mean?”
Mackenzie: “It means it’s
gonna get rotten. When you add too much water it gets sticky.”

Over time, the children discovered that adding small amounts of water kept the clay pliable, but adding too much water made the clay very wet and difficult to work with. Once the children understood how to use the water bottles effectively, they started creating small sculptures and asked to save their clay pieces. As a result, we started to label and save their creations. The children used the techniques they had experimented with in the past few weeks to create flowers, birds,superheroes and a variety of other items. As a means of extending their exploration, I invited the children to bring in items from home to serve as inspiration for future creations. My intention with asking the children to bring items from home was to encourage them to notice the details of a three-dimensional object, especially because they were using clay to create three-dimensional sculptures. I was also hoping that having a tangible item in

front of them would support their ability to create realistic sculptures that
were of interest to them. Many of the children were very excited about this idea and brought in items immediately. The children brought a wide variety of items and had the following things to say about their clay pieces:


Kaylin: “I’m making my ninja
and he has a vagina.”
Ace: “I gonna play clay today. I make my car. A race car Hot Wheel.”
Evelyn brought a plastic pumpkin to the table and said, “I can’t do it.”
Saoirse: “The pumpkin is a circle with eyes and a nose and a mouth like this (Saoirse made a squiggly line with her finger).
Fynn: “I’m making a cave!”
Rachelle: “Oh! I can see
inside of the cave. Do you think something might live in there?”
Fynn: “Monsters. Scary monsters and zombies, but they all died I think.”
Rachelle: “Are the zombies and monsters real?”
Fynn: “No, not zombies, or ghosts, or monsters, but bad guys are real because they stole my daddy’s bike. My cave is super dark inside.”
Gabriel: “I gonna make the car” (Gabriel brought in a toy car from home).
Rachelle: “I see you brought your car to the table. What part do you want to work on first?”
Gabriel pointed to the body of the car.
Rachelle: “OK, what shape is that?”
Gabriel: “It a square.”
Rachelle: “How could you make a square shape with the clay?”
Gabriel started to pound the clay into a flat piece.
Matthew: “Gabriel, you can use a knife like this to make the square.” Matthew showed Gabriel how to cut the clay with a plastic knife.

According to the article, Promoting Creativity for Life Using Open-Ended Materials by Walter F. Drew and Baji Rankin, “Play and the creative arts in early childhood programs are essential ways children communicate, think, feel, and express themselves. Art making, fiddling around with bits of wood and fabric or pieces of plastic and leather, reveals the gentle spirit creating simple forms and arrangements,touching the hands, hearts, and minds of young children—and adults….As we trust the process, as we encourage and observe the emerging self-initiative and choice making of the children, we come to more fully understand the intimate connection between the spirit of play and the art-making process.”

Citation:
Drew, Walter F and Rankin, Baji. Promoting Creativity for Life Using Open-Ended Materials 
-Rachelle

Racetracks in the block area!
May 26, 2015- June 5, 2015

    In the block area, the children have been interested in creating racetracks for mobilos, cars, and more recently, wheels. Each day, they would work together to create a new track. These tracks consist of different sized blocks, boards, and ramps. All of the children work together to create a track that can be used for the materials of their choosing. The materials they chose to use acted as different elements of their racetrack, such as bridges, benches, and ramps. Each day, they also came up with new rules for their tracks, such as: where the starting and finish line is,  and where their mobilos, cars or wheels go on certain parts of the track. First, the children were using the mobilos for their tracks, however; after discovering that they didn't work on their tracks very well, they used the cars, then the wheels.

    Each day, the children worked together to work on one track, each child had different ideas for their own parts of the track that they wanted to add. Examples are given below.

    Taking out the triangular shaped blocks, and a triangular shaped top, Nathan explains "For the finish line, to catch them."

    Nathan explains to another child, "This is the starting line. You start on that side, this is my side." On another day, he also explained, "This is a racer track, you need to go a medium speed. You want to go this way, and I'll go that way."

Gabriel brought out the bigger blocks and said, "I need to make a ramp with a tunnel."

    In building their tracks, the children also came up with areas that surrounded them or a theme for their track. For example, one day, the children talked about water surrounding their track. The water contained sharks, dinosaurs, and sea monsters in which the cars had to avoid in order to move around the track. The children used blocks to represent the sharks, dinosaurs, and sea monsters. (Examples are given below)

Ian attached a string and a long pole, and said, "Now he could never escape. Now it can't move. This is a great place to go fishing."

Brandon: "Watch this, he has to jump, this is the water!" (Pointing at on empty space between two blocks.)

Nathan explained the elements of the racetrack ("Race Rollers") he created, "There's a jump over here where the cars can go down. And I'll bring this bed where the cars could sleep. It can turn into a party, it's used for racing and making for a party."

    My intention for this activity was to follow the children's current interest in building and creating race tracks. Before this, the children showed interest in cars, they began to notice that there weren't enough cars for everyone. So, I put out materials such as toilet paper rolls, pipe cleaners, foil, and felt to see what the children would create (intending on them creating their own cars), however; the children then showed interest in building race tracks in the block area.


    This activity encourages the children to work collaboratively, with opportunities for turn taking, language and literacy through the exchanging of ideas, and physical and cognitive development. In the article, "Block off Time for Learning" by Laura K. Colker mentions a few social and emotional skills that the children develop while engaging in various activities in the block area. This article also mentions other domains and skills that are developed while in the block area.

"Teamwork: Building an office, a farm, or a highway system all require planning and collaboration. Most children enjoy working and playing with others to make plans, move and place blocks, solve building challenges, and share in the fun.
Feelings of competence: Whether working alone or as a group, children feel proud of their accomplishments, like building a bridge that spans the block area, a ramp that works, or a towering multilevel building.
Social and emotional skills: Block builders learn to follow classroom safety rules, to respect the rights of others, and to stand up for their own rights. They also learn to respect and care for the classroom environment and to use their thinking skills to negotiate and resolve conflicts."

Citation:
 Colker, L. (n.d.). Block Off Time for Learning - NAEYC. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from http://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/BlockOffTime.pdf

-Maria