September 2015 archive

What A Busy Week!

This week we continued with our All About Me shares, with readings from Asher, Charlie, Emerson, Jake, Jalen, Lucia, Pearl and Vivian.  The children enjoyed sharing the opportunity to talk about their friends, families, and favorite things, and the Beavers always love hearing about each other lives.

We also celebrated three birthdays this week – Milo, Alex, and Elfie!  We enjoyed some delicious treats and started some birthday traditions.  Besides bringing in a treat and a favorite book to share, the birthday celebrator also takes home the birthday candle, breaks it in half, and sleeps with it under their pillow in order to dream about their wish (a special Erica Jaconi tradition).  The class also makes a communal birthday card and gives it to the birthday boy or girl at the end of the day.

Happy birthday to our Beavers friends!

Natural Materials in the Classroom

Many educational methodologies promote the use of natural materials.  But why?  In terms of the Reggio Emilia approach, the use of natural and found materials speaks directly to the interest and curiosity of the child.  Bring a young child outside and they are undoubtedly engaged in an extensive game of pretend play; give them dirt and a shovel and the experience is heightened that much further.  By bringing these resources into the classroom, we are extending the space in which children discover, learn, and progress.

Take, for example, how Carmen found a seed pod on her way to school this week, and brought it in to share with the class.  Immediately, the Beavers started making predictions about what would happen to the seeds inside.  Will they grow?  Are they dead?  Can we plant them? We then proceeded to make a decision as a class to plant the seeds and observe them as they grow.  Throughout the week, more and more friends have been bringing in seeds and seed pods into the class, prompting an exploration of seeds, seed pods, leaves and pine cones at the Science Table during Choice Time.

Natural materials can also be viewed as a type of “blank canvas” for art projects; the array of possibilities that we can derive from the simplest of materials, such as sticks, leaves, seashells, and rocks – is extensive.  While children are almost automatically inclined to engage with these materials on a sensory level, with a little scaffolding and guidance they can create beautiful and original pieces of art.  This week, we began to construct our Beaver Lodge, using sticks and twigs we gathered in the garden as well as some black and copper wire.  The fine motor action of wrapping wire to connect the twigs provided an opportunity for the Beavers to add their individual contributions to a greater class project, truly reflective of the group.

This week, we also did a “farewell to summer” activity, painting seashells to signify the seasonal transition.  Painting natural objects provides a different sensory experience from simply painting paper.  Furthermore, the Beavers were able to explore the varying textures and sizes of different seashells, noticing how the oyster shell is bumpy, while the scallop shell has ridges.  While the teaching team prompted them to explore adding details to their painted seashells, we saw the artistic vision of each student emerge.

We will continue to use natural materials in all of our work throughout the year.

 

The Beavers

This week was fun-filled and exciting for the Beavers!

We played in the Garden in the mornings and shared some special moments with our grown ups and teachers. We settled into our daily routines and did a lot of community building.

One important aspect of community building, is allowing the children to establish connections with their classmates. Over the next two weeks each child will have an opportunity to share their “All About Me” books. We aim for every child to have a voice in this room, freely expressing their interests, commonalities and differences. Our first two Beavers shared this afternoon, proudly showing off their books. After each share, we are asking the children to recall at least three things they learned about their friend. It was fun to watch the connections they made with one another and we are excited to learn more about each individual child.

In addition to community building efforts centered on the individual, we also engaged in many activities, which required the children to work alongside one another. Specifically, we have been talking lots about… wait for it… BEAVERS! Together, we created a collaged beaver, water-colored water for the beaver to live in, and collected sticks for a beaver lodge.

Here’s a play by play on how our beaver habitat came to life. Your children noticed many new books in our classroom having to do with beavers. The books instantly caught their attention, and questions and conversations began to surface. We first worked together to create a beaver, collaging torn paper. Per Arjun’s request, we then read the book, Animals that Build their Homes by Robert M. McClung. The children were curious about how we could build a home for our beaver. We learned that beavers build lodges out of sticks and logs. As a team, we headed out to Garden in pursuit of sticks. We wondered how we could make our habitat more reflective of a real beaver’s home. The children pooled together and decided we needed to make water in which the beaver could build his home. Today, using chalk, cray pas, crayons and water colors, your children began creating the water where our class beaver will live. Next week, we will have the engineering challenge of constructing our lodge…. Wish us luck!

Our second week of school was a success and we look forward to more fun on Monday! Enjoy the weekend!

THE VOTES ARE IN!!! Introducing …

… THE BEAVERS!

Today, we voted on our class name.  The process started by asking every single Pre-K Four for a suggestion.  Suggestions included The Dogs, The Light Dragons, The Bunnies, The Mermaids, Art Class Art Gallery, The Everything, The Cats, The  Butterflies, The Subways and The Trains.  We narrowed it down to four names: The Roosters, The Beavers, The Dragoninos, and The Sharks.  We then set up a makeshift voting booth in the teacher lounge, and invited each friend in to cast their vote.

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We then counted up all the votes…

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… and The Beavers won!

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Now we just need to practice our Beaver impressions!

 

First Week of School!

We had a great first week of school.  We sang songs, had Morning Meeting, and worked together building blocks, drawing pictures, and exploring the new areas of the classroom.  We learned new classroom routines, like choosing activities for Choice Time, and lining up for the Garden with our buddies.  Next week, we have a lot more fun projects and activities planned (including choosing our class name!) so stay tuned!

Have a great three day weekend, and we’ll see everyone on Tuesday!