Children are spending their last days in Pre-K finishing up projects and completing The Best Part of Pre-K memory book. They have begun the process of gathering up their writing pieces, math and science work and their magnificent art pieces, which so brightly decorated the classroom walls. The children are enjoying their final days of the school year by singing their favorite songs, listening to their favorite stories being read again and watching slideshows of special moments throughout the year. In anticipation of the summer ahead, the children heard several summer related books, such as The Night of the Moonjellies, Poppleton and Friends and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. They discussed the seasonal changes that summer brings and made a splash chart of the many changes in the environment that takes place during the summer.
The children visited the Glenfield Middle School Planetarium. Mr. Miller, planetarium coordinator, engaged the children in an exciting trip into space via a planetarium projector. The children were excited to land on Mars, learn interesting facts about planets and stars and search the night sky for constellations. Our explorations of earth this past week have enhanced the children’s interest in space and the planets. Non-fiction books and audio-visual resources have given the children many opportunities to learn more or share what they know about the planets.
In preparation for our Planetarium field trip, the children learned fun facts about stars. They learned that blue stars are the hottest and that the sun is the only star that can be seen in the daytime. They learned that a “constellation” is a picture made up of stars. A long time ago people made up pictures about the stars they saw in the sky as well as stories to go along with those pictures. The Bear (and the Big Dipper) is one of the few constellations that can be seen all year.
The Pre-K children joined together with the Upper School students from Cynthia Darling’s Sophomore English class to continue work on their collaborative fairy tales. The Upper School students read the written drafts to their groups and the children offered feedback. Then the high school students helped the Pre-K plan and draw the illustrations for their story. The Pre-K students were able to see the characters that they have developed with the high school students come to life on the page. This project, now in its second year of implementation, is the result of Ms. Marden and Ms. Darling’s collaborative work on a Blauvelt Grant to integrate ethics into literary study in Pre-K and high school classrooms.
As the children listened to a reading of Waiting for Wings, by Lois Ehlert, they focused their attention on the symmetry of a butterfly’s wings. They enjoyed painting large symmetrical butterfly wings and are looking forward to wearing them when they release the butterflies in the garden on the backfield. Dressed as butterflies, the children wore their beautifully painted symmetrical wings and handcrafted butterfly masks and released the butterflies in our backfield. Before releasing them, the children speculated about the many places the butterflies might fly to and where they would find shelter if it rained.
All the Painted Lady butterflies have emerged. The children made their final entries in their butterfly journals. The butterflies were released inside the large insect habitat in our classroom. The children took turns sitting inside the habitat and had first-hand experiences with the butterflies.
Are You A Butterfly?, by Judy Allen, helps the reader to imagine what it would be like to be a caterpillar and then a butterfly. The children learned that if they were caterpillars, they would pop out of their skin at least three or four times, have breathing holes on their backs and have sixteen legs.
On Earth Day the children will learn about the importance of protecting the earth’s natural resources. The children delighted in getting their hands dirty to make earth ball necklaces out of real earth (potting soil) and glue. Later, they used blue, green and white paint and painted continents, oceans and polar ice caps to make them more realistic. They used the globe to guide them as they worked. The focus of math exploration was the relationship between numbers and corresponding sets of objects. The children had opportunities to reinforce numeral recognition and counting skills with understanding. During the math lessons, the children practiced making sets of raindrops underneath clouds labeled with specific two digit numbers. Also the week our caterpillars, for our butterfly study, have all spun their chrysalises and the children are eagerly waiting for the Painted Lady butterflies to hatch. The children have added documentation about this stage of metamorphosis to their butterfly journals.
In the last few day of our African study the children completed the African masks that they started last week. They embellished the masks with three- dimensional features. Among the materials used was raffia, which is made from raffia palms and is native to the tropical regions of Africa, especially Madagascar. Number sense requires a deep understanding and intuitive feel for numbers and their relationships to one another. After hearing Anno’s Counting Book, the focus of which is the concept that each succeeding number is one more than the number before, the children used Unifix cubes to build staircases, making sure that each row of cubes had one more than the row before. The children transferred the image of each staircase onto another grid by coloring in the corresponding numbers and rows of boxes. The Hatseller and the Monkeys, as told by Baba Wagu Diakit, is the West African version of the beloved folktale about a peddler whose hats were stolen by monkeys. While the West African tale has a familiar and similar theme to Caps for Sale, as told by Esphyr Slobodkins, the settings and morals of the two versions differ. After hearing both stories, the children used a Venn diagram to compare them.
This week Pre-K took a virtual trip to South Africa with 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Bates where they saw pictures of African animals and a Zulu home in which Mrs. Bates had cooked stew with the family. The children made a lot of connections to the African house they are constructing in their classrooms and were inspired to add more animals to their rain forests.
Also the children planted broccoli and three types of lettuce in the Brookside garden with their 3rd Grade Buddies and were excited to see that many of the spinach plants they had planted as seeds in the fall had survived the winter. It was a wonderful way to spend a spring afternoon!