Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ramp Exploration with Snails and Slugs
Documented By: Stephanie Vorrises

Since the beginning of our snail and slug explorations the children have been making detailed observations and expressing what they’ve learned through verbal communications and drawings. As their explorations progressed, the children decided to add blocks to the table and started to observe their ability to move upwards. They used the blocks to create homes, towers, and obstacle courses for the snails and slugs. These creations enabled children to observe the unique movements and physical characteristics of the snails and slugs. This activity also helped children recognize how snails and slugs are attracted to dark and shaded areas.
Amanda:”He’s moving up! He’s moving up!”
Stephanie: “How is he moving?”
Amanda: “His slime.”
Stephanie: “Did you know slugs have a foot?”
Amanda: “Yea just like snails!”

Ellie: “Teacher look, he’s going up!”
James: “Look the nana slug is going in (the tunnel)”
Lately, we have also added reference books to support their investigations about movement, their body parts and their characteristics. I frequently referred to the snail and slug books to answer questions the children had and even some questions that I had. My intention for referencing the books during activity time was to show the children that books have multiple uses and can be used to learn new facts or story-telling and to encourage children to independently investigate their curiosities.

Everyday has been a learning experience for both the children and myself! The children have been intentional with their observations and revisiting their investigations over multiple days. I noticed that many children were interested in the movements of the snails and slugs and were recognizing when they would go up, down, under, over, and in between the blocks and tubes provided. I want to support their interests in movement and decided to add clear ramps.

As they children began to explore the slugs and snails on the ramps they were quick to make detailed observations!
Toby looking at a slug upside down: “They’re not falling!”
Perry: “He sticking! Ah look!”
Kaylee: “Teacher I see something! A hole!”
Paul using a magnifying glass: “We’re finding out what’s inside.”
Mathias: “He go like this” (Mathias then moved like a worm on the ground by squishing his body and then lengthening it.)
The ramps enabled the children to clearly recognize body parts they were already familiar with and investigate new body parts or movements they had not yet noticed.
My intention for introducing the ramps was for children to observe the snails and slugs from a new perspective. They now could see the underside of the snails and slugs and get a closer view of their movements.
While observing the slugs on the clear ramp Paul shared that he thought they were looking for flowers. I asked, “How will they know where the flowers are?” Paul replied, “Smell it!” I then asked, “How will they smell it?” Paul “They will see it with their eyes.” Patrick “Their nose.” I followed up with, “Do slugs have noses?” We then began to research if slugs have noses by looking in our book Slugs, Snails, and Worms by Trudi Strain Trueit. We didn’t find anything about noses, but we did learn that their bottom tentacles are used for feeling and tasting.
The clear ramps have also allowed children to view the snails and slugs from the bottom. In doing so, James and Patrick recognized that there were moving stripes on the bottom of the snails/slugs. This this has encouraged children to hypothesize what they thought the stripes were.  After researching in our books we found out that the stripes were actually the muscles on the foot of the slug/snail to help them move! The next day Patrick returned to the science area and began watching the muscles move on the slug. Patrick expressed “I can see their bottom underneath! I can see their muscles moving.” As we continue to move on in our investigations I will encourage children to share their findings with each other and revisit topics discussed to enhance their experiences.  
Research states “If our goal for coaching is to enable children to become self-directed, cooperative learners, then they need to sharpen their listening and observation skills. Children are typically disposed to notice details and we can assist them in making use of this for their learning. Noticing details helps them with spatial relations, drawings, and literacy skills. Coaching children to observe closely will also aide them in reading facial expressions and body language (emotional intelligence), distinguishing letters on a page (literacy learning), and looking at objects under a microscope (science learning).” (Pg. 128-9 Learning Together with Young Children, A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers, Deb Curtis and Margie Carter)

Snails vs. Slugs Chart
Documented By: Stephanie Vorrises

Since the beginning of our snail and slug project, the children have shown an awareness of the differences and similarities between snails and slugs. As the exploration of snails and slugs continued, I decided to support the children in documenting their knowledge with a chart. I wanted to add a chart because I thought this would be a beneficial way for children to communicate what they’ve learned and to find out what they’d like to learn. I added the chart with questions to provide a clear and direct focus.  I also wanted to see what might require a deeper investigation. I also thought this would be another great activity to incorporate literacy in the science area. The chart can be used a reference guide or to revisit learned information.
On our chart “SNAILS vs. SLUGS” the children have shared a lot of information with each other and have even had some debates on differing opinions.
Below is some information found on our classroom chart:

Do they have shells?
Toby & James-Yes
Toby & James- No
If they don’t have shells where do they hide?
James- In the shade!
Toby- In their head
Do they have feet?
Clara- They do have feet!
James- There’s one feet.
Mathias- 1,2,1. Baby 2 feet.
Paul- One
How do they climb?
James- From the lines under these (muscles).
Russell- They just go slowly.
Paul- They use their slime!
James- Their stick

The chart has been a crucial part of our investigations because it has set a foundation for children to share what they have learned and allowed me to challenge them in a way to deepen their experiences. After going over some of the questions I realized that some children had varying answers. For example, some children said that snails and slugs have 4 eyes, whereas others said there were 2. This led to discussions about their antennas and what each pair is used for (eyes vs. feeling and tasting). Even after doing some research, some children are still determined that snails and slugs have 4 eyes. We will continue to support the children throughout these investigations by group and individualized conversations, observations, and revisiting documentations.
Research states: During preschool years, children are developmentally ready to engage in scientific skills, such as observation, classification, comparing, and predicting. Very young children actively observe objects and events in their environment. Observation involves the use of all senses. Early on, infants and toddlers want to touch and handle objects and examine them with their lips and tongues. They actively search for information about objects and events in their environment. Through observations and by acting on objects, children learn about the physical characteristics of objects (size, shape, material, or weight) and how objects interact, move, and change. This information feeds children’s growth in understanding concepts and acquiring knowledge in core domains such as biology and physics. (Pg. 84 California Preschool Learning Foundations Vol. 3 Cal. Dep. Of Edu.)
The children continue to share new knowledge about snails/slugs with both classmates and teachers. As they continue to do so, I have been adding updated observations and quotes. The children will sometimes refer to the chart and ask what other children have said or recall what they’ve said.
The graph has encouraged the children to engage in more detailed conversations about the slugs and snails. As a result,  I decided to ask them what they know about slugs and snails and document their language.
What do you know about slugs?
James: Their have muscles on their body.
Paul: Bottom (muscles).
Jackson: Fall they get hurt.
Caira: Their have skirts on their bottom, back of them.
Toby: When banana slugs top moving, their stripes stop moving.
Sergio: They slide.
Clara: They slide.
Evelyn: They crawl with their feet.
Gianna: They slide.
Roman: They’re quiet.
Mathias: They look at the feet.
Russell: When they fall they stick to the floor.
Patrick: When their muscles not moving their body not moving.
Gia: When they get hurt they hurt their knee.
Angelina: Get the tree the nana slug.
Ellie: They fall.
Laurent: The banana slug is very quiet and moves very slowly and very quiet and no words.
Kaylee: They can go around each other.
Brandon: They have eyes. 4 eyes and a strong leg and back.
Sophia: They hide under the dirt for a long time.
Perry: The slug has eyes. Two.
Amanda: They have teeth on their tongue.
As we continue to learn about snails and slugs we will encourage children to use a range of materials throughout their investigations. We will also support children as they document their findings through drawings, paintings, and verbal communications.

Decorating Pine Cones
  Documented By: Nicole Porter
  November 17, 2015

As a special activity Amanda’s mom led a fun and creative project with our class! Each child received a pine cone and had a large pile of differently colored tissue paper to choose from.  Amanda’s mom showed the groups how to crumple up the tissue paper and place it within the openings of the pine cone to make it look like a decorated tree!  Some children experimented with new ways to wrap the tissue paper around the pine cones as well.  When they were complete they were very colorful and everyone had their own designs.
This activity promoted the children’s strengthening of fine motor skills, color recognition, and creating patterns.  In order to crumple and place the tissue paper they needed to practice their pinch grip which later is valuable in learning to write.  Having various colors of tissue paper to choose from, they talked about which colors they liked, and what they reminded them of.
James: “My favorite color is red and green and Christmas!”

In this activity the children were able to use an object from nature (a pinecone) in their artwork and closely examine it’s features.  It is important that the children learn and connect with nature, even inside the classroom.  Introducing science simply by including objects of nature leads to incredible learning opportunities and questions the children may not have thought about before.  According to the article, “Preschool Science Environment: What is Available in a Preschool Classroom”:

“Children have innate curiosity and as soon as children realize that they can discover things for themselves, their first encounter with science has occurred.  Experiences in science provide opportunities for young children to develop an appreciation and awareness of the world around them and develop science inquiry skills, such as “wondering, questioning, exploring, and investigating, discussing, reflecting, and formulating ideas and theories.”

Since this activity the children have talked more about where pine cones come from, what they look like, feel like, and where we can find them.  Several have shown an interest in going on nature walks and “leaf walks” to collect leaves from the ground.  This is a wonderful opportunity to understand more about the nature we have around our school and the changing seasons we are experiencing.  We can observe the trees outside our school and see that there are no longer leaves on the trees, but they are now on the ground, and why this is happening.  We appreciate Amanda’s mom coming into our classroom and providing such a fun and creative activity for our class! Thank you!

Tu, Tsunghui. "Preschool Science Environment: What Is Available in a Preschool Classroom?" Early Childhood Education Journal Early Childhood Educ J: 245-51. Print.

Second Walking Field Trip to Spressa Coffee Bar
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2015
Documented by: Andrea Posadas

         On our second field trip to the Spressa Coffee Bar, our intention was for the children to revisit their observational drawings from their first visit, and for the first timers to gain a better understanding of how a coffee shop is similar or different than the restaurant we have in our classroom. This trip gave the children opportunities to practice many skills: making sense of their experience, self regulation, cognitive development by asking questions and hypothesizing, and developing fine motor skills as they made observational drawings. Before leaving on our trip, we made some predictions on what we would see there. Like the first time, many of the children predicted to find certain food at the shop, as well as the various “jobs” we might see the workers doing.


“What will we see at the Coffee Shop?”

Sophia: "Juice!" 
Gabe: "Smoothies."

Amanda: "Apples, bananas, and strawberries."

Roman: "Chocolate."

Gabe: "More food than drinks."

Roman: "Coffee."
Patrick: "Customers!"
                                                                                             Roman: "Waiter or a cook!”
Angelina: “Juice.”

When we arrived, the children took a seat at a table and looked around. We passed out markers and paper for them to draw what they saw. Similar to our first visit, the children were fascinated with the many individual treats and snacks all over the shop. The lollipops, juice, cookies, cheese, and soda drinks were a big topic of discussion for the children, and this can be seen through their observational drawings. Two children, Sophia and Roman were drawn to the stereo and tv mounted on the wall. One of the shop’s employees, Jackie, remembered us from our first visit and was so kind as to show us the inside of the cash register! She showed the children how she sorted the different types of money inside, and after Roman asked,What if someone takes it?” she explained how she would have to call the police. She also explained how her kitchen is very small, only room for two people. Gabe asked, “Is there a cook?” Jackie explained how in her coffee shop, there isn’t a stove for cooking, only an oven and microwave. She told the children how she needs a special “permit” to be able to have a stove in her kitchen.
         In the future, we would like to take the children to visit the other restaurants in the plaza. On our walk back to the school, the children noticed Papa John’s Pizza as well as Hall of Flame, a burger spot. Many of them expressed interest in visiting those places, and I think it would be beneficial to support their understanding and increasingly growing interest in restaurant play. While the coffee shop was a good learning experience for them, I noticed that what they saw there did not always transfer to their play in the classroom. Instead of focusing on the individual items like they did in the store, in the classroom they went back to role playing as the cook, waiter, cashier, and customers. Visiting different kinds of restaurants might encourage other ideas for the children to better understand the process of what a restaurant visit looks like, as well as observing a “real kitchen” with cooks and chefs at work. 
When teachers encourage children’s curiosity and help them to ask questions, the study of local everyday topics becomes interesting and relevant to them. Young children’s learning is energized as they become part of a community of investigators and share the findings of their inquiry. Children apply skills and knowledge in their study of buses, shoes, trees, or grocery stores. They learn about the value of reading, writing, and numbers in the life of the adults around them. In the context of the project the children become apprentices in the pursuit of knowledge alongside their teachers.”


Observational Quotes and Drawings:
“What do you notice in the coffee shop?" 

Sophia:"Teacher, can we buy this? [cheese] How much is it?”(Teacher Linette points out the stickers on each food item)
Gabriel: (After seeing the stickers on each item) “$2.49, $3.49, .79!”

Roman: “Can we dance in here?” 
Amanda: "Here's the juice! There's so much!"

Gabriel: “Look the soda. Coca-Cola!” 
Angelina:"This is a cookie Teacher?"

Roman: “What’s this? It’s black. And this? Some juice?”
Patrick: “We’re gonna stand in line!”
Angelina: "A banana." “A spider.” “The people go work in the city.” 
Gabriel: “The S.” [The coffee shop had a big “S” on the wall for “Spressa”]

Sophia: “The lines and the black stuff up there.” [TV and Stereo on shelf]
Roman: “TV and those are the ears.” [The stereo and speakers]
Amanda: “Jackie and the cash register. The stand and lollipops.”Patrick:"Lollipops."

                                                                                    Dramatic Play Area Restaurant Pictures 



Visiting the Library!
Documented By: Nicole Porter
November 2015

As a special trip, our afternoon group has been visiting the library upstairs! The children love to talk about what they find in the library, what kinds of books they see on the shelves, how we are supposed to act when we are in there, and what libraries they’ve been to outside of school.  Since our afternoon group is much smaller, each child has the opportunity to have one on one time with the teacher either reading books or looking for a particular topic they choose.  The children know this is a very special trip and they need to listen, use quiet voices, and  be very careful with the books in order to return to the library again.  Each trip so far has been successful with few reminders of how to act and being quiet.

As we enter the library the children are very quiet and look around at all the different books and shelves we have in our library.  The rule is that when they take a book off the shelf they must remember where they got it from so they can return it to the same spot when they are finished.  There is a special reading area where they can quietly go to read their books and look at the pictures.  In the quiet area there is a huge bean bag and many colored spots they can sit on.  The colored spots help to encourage them to sit in one spot.  The bean bag allows several children at a time to sit together.  Sometimes the children will share books with each other while sitting on the bean bag.  

Each time we visit the library, before we leave, the children help to clean up the spots, grouping together those with similar colors, and putting their books back where they got them.  We sit together at the large table and the teacher reads a book.  This is always exciting because it is a new book to everyone and is a unique place for them to listen to a book together other than in the classroom at group time.

Our intention with visiting the library is to give the children more information about what a library is and what we can use it for.  As we have started to investigate more about bugs, cities, and restaurants in the classroom, we have started to look for books in the library that would include these topics.  We want the children to see that a library is a great resource to gather more information and can be fun!  According to the article,The Effects of Increased Access to Books on Student Reading Using the Public Library, “Increased amounts of time for free voluntary reading is associated with better literacy development (Krashen, 1996). Krashen (1993) determined that “there is an enormous literature research showing that free reading results in improved reading comprehension, writing style, vocabulary development, spelling and grammatical competence”(p.2).  We intend to continue our trips to the library and start to learn even more about how to use it.  We have started to read more books about the library and why people go to visit and what they might be looking for.  We have started talking about other reasons besides reading, people may visit the library, such as to the use computer, listen to music, or rent videos.  As the interest grows we can start to get more detailed about what a library card is, how to get one and how to use it.  We want the children to recognize the library as a fun and important place to go, and how to use its resources.

Whitehead, Nicole. "THE EFFECTS OF INCREASED ACCESS TO BOOKS ON STUDENT READING USING THE PUBLIC LIBRARY." ProQuest. Reading Improvement, 1 Oct. 2004. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Building a City
Documented By: Nicole Porter
October-November 2015

The children have been hard at work in the block area creating their very own city which has been named “Mission Bay”.  Some of their buildings include a “Cafe Suma” (Brandon), a skyscraper (Toby), Starbucks (Patrick), parking garage (Patrick and Paul), an emergency vehicle parking garage (Toby), and a detailed bart station that extends underneath the table (Patrick and Paul).  They have also built streets with tape and arrows, as well as street signs.  All different materials have been used in the making of our city mostly using blocks, legos, and cars.  Recently tape and boxes have been added to extend their play and start to get more creative. 

Along the way, the children have had conversations about what they see in our city and what their city will need.  When building the bart station, Patrick and Paul knew a lot of details about what Bart trains look like as well as the stations, while others had never heard of Bart before.  

Patrick: “Actually Bart doesn’t stop at just one station, it has a lot of stations.  Paul remember Bart has a lot of stations so we need to make more stations.”
Paul: “There’s a sign that says the bus numbers.”
Patrick: “Bart is underground.”

This was a great learning and teaching activity where they were able to share and show their experiences with their friends.  Not only are they enjoying creating the different parts of their city, but they then can include the city into their play as soon as they created a new part.
Other areas of learning that we are seeing expand are planning, some of the children have talked about what details they would need to add when building, for example Brandon explained that the cafe would need a door, tables, chairs, and a kitchen.  Some even decided to draw what they were building, while talking about why they were drawing them.  Patrick drew a picture of the bart station and explained that there is a platform in the middle with tracks on either side for the trains.  The children are learning to respect each other’s work by helping to keep each other’s buildings safe and reminding others not to knock them down.  Each child that has built in our city has made a sign for their work with both the name of their building and their own name.  This encouraged other children that may not have started writing yet, to try because they too wanted their work saved and respected by others.  In most recent weeks, the children have started to talk more about methods of transportation and the community helpers that we have and will now need in our city.  For example, we have a garbage man that comes to our school weekly with the garbage truck, we have the street sweeper, and we have bart nearby.

We are encouraging the children to expand their city and use new materials to enhance the details.  When given a bumpy piece of cardboard, Patrick decided it would be the entrance to the underground bart, which he placed on top of the table and used a flat piece of cardboard with lines on it, to lead down underneath the table as stairs.  According to the book Learning Together with Young Children, “Materials that are open-ended and can be transformed have the power to call on children’s internal resources, experiences, and imagination in multiple ways for multiple purposes.  Recycled materials, special collections of unusual items or unknown treasures, and things from nature all encourage divergent thinking as children use them for meaningful learning. These items also promote the value of recycling and reusing, rather than consuming and discarding.”  We continue to bring in new materials and ask the children what kinds they would like to use.
Our intention behind expanding this interest is to see where it takes the children and how much they can explore this topic.  They have already learned so much just from each other and based on their unique experiences.  We can strengthen this interest by taking advantage of the numerous possibilities around us and allowing the children to guide where this project will go.  
Planning ahead with this we will be learning about the city we live in, the methods of transportation we use, and community helpers.  We can expand their learning with hands on activities including taking field trips to places around our school, having visiting experts come to the classroom to talk about what they do, and looking at pictures, maps, books of cities!  There is so much the children can explore and learn about.

Curtis, Deb, and Margie Carter. "Enhance the Curriculum with Materials." Learning Together with Young Children: A Curriculum Framework for Reflective Teachers. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf, 2008. 63. Print.

Car Wash
Brandon and Gabriel put a stoplight in their carwash
Gabriel: “It talks to you too”
Brandon: “Keep your hands inside.”
Gabriel: “Enjoy the ride!”

City Streets
Toby puts up signs for the city and describes each one:
Toby: “No U turn here…25 miles per hour here…I have a stop sign…”
Teacher: “How do you know where the roads are?”
Toby: “We can put tape arrows! Or we can make barriers.”

Paul: “We need houses!”
Teacher: “Where can we put them?”
Patrick: “Sometimes they are on top of restaurants!”

Patrick: “I’m the UPS.” (holding up car he built out of legos)
Teacher: “What is UPS?”
Patrick: “They deliver stuff.”
Teacher: “Where does he deliver to?”
Patrick: “He delivered these” (pointing to his new shoes)

Toby: “Nicole my building is so tall! It’s 46 inches!”

Bart Station
Patrick: “Actually Bart doesn’t stop at just one station it has a lot of stations. Paul remember Bart has a lot of stations so we need to make more stations.”
Paul: “There’s a sign that says the bus number!”
Patrick: “Bart is underground.”
Paul: (looking at the Bart Station he made) “Teacher…this look amazing.”
Patrick: “Teacher you know Bart has more stations than 2.”
Teacher: “How many?”
Patrick: “Uhhh about a hundred.”
Paul: “The trains stop at the same stations.”

Patrick lines up the dinosaurs on the platform he built.
Patrick: “The dinosaurs are waiting for bart.”
Teacher: “Did you know Bart trains are really long?”

Patrick: “You know some have 10 coaches and some have 9?”

                                            More Fire Fighter Visit Pictures