The pre-kindergarten 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.
Our trip to Absolutely Fish was absolutely wonderful. The children had the opportunity to learn about the many kinds of tropical and fresh water fish, as well as beautiful coral and other ocean life. Many of the children were able to touch a pleco or a starfish. They saw a puffer fish blow up right before their eyes. We are grateful to Patrick Donson, the shop owner, for his fascinating and informative tour. During morning meeting, the children reflected on their favorite part of the trip to Absolutely Fish. In order to revisit their experience and refresh their memories, they watched a slide show of photographs taken at the fish store. Then, using black sharpies and actual photographs of their favorite fish, the children drew fish portraits. They focused on the distinctive anatomical features of the fish and other sea animals that they had seen.
The children began their study of fish! Pre-K heard the story, Fish Is Fish, by Leo Lionni. In this story, a fish learns he cannot live out of water like his friend the tadpole does once he became an adult frog. After hearing the story, the children brainstormed a list of facts that they already knew about fish. As the exploration of fish continues, they will add more information to this list.
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.
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.
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 drawing large symmetrical butterfly. 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.
The Pre-K classes have begun their study of insects. They will observe the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Each class has 15 caterpillars that they will document throughout their change from larvae, into a chrysalis, and finnally to a butterfly. The caterpillars 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.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle 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. 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.
Over the next several weeks, the seasonal change will be the focus, as the children discover and learn about wind and its effects, the water cycle and clouds. After Earth Day the children reflected about the importance of protecting the earth’s natural resources. With the element of wind as the primary focus of study this week, the children shared their ideas about the wind, how they know it’s there and what it can do. After hearing Gilberto and the Wind by Marie Hall Ets, the children made windsocks decorated with colorful spring pictures. Brainpop Jr. provided an informative visual media segment on wind. During their discussion, they learned that wind is made of moving air. They discussed ways that the wind is helpful and ways that the wind is harmful to the environment. The children designed their own kites, which they took outside to the backfield to fly.
Parent-Teacher Conference Sign Up! Thursday May 18, 2017
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In the last few day of our African study the children completed the African masks that they started last week. 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.
The fabrics used in African clothing are known for their bright colors and designs. The fabric is often used to make clothing worn in religious ceremonies. Among the best-known fabrics is Adinkra cloth from Nigeria and Kente cloth from Ghana. The children saw many images of both Adinkra cloth and Kente cloth on the Internet. Adinkra cloth is made by first applying a cassava paste design to a fabric before dying the cloth. The children drew designs on paper with white crayons and then used a blue watercolor wash to create the batik effect of Adinkra cloth. The Spider Weaver, by Margaret Musgrove, is a tale of a master weaver who teaches two Ashanti weavers from Ghana how to make colorful patterns in the cloth that they weave. The cloths are called Kente cloth and are woven in a variety of colors. The name Kente comes from the word "kenten", which means basket. After hearing the story, the children designed their own geometric Kente designs on brown paper bags to cover the African hut we have in the classroom.
This week, the children began a study of African folktales, which will include many of the “Anansi” stories. These stories are the focus of Pre-K’s second Core Work. The children were introduced to African folktales and the mythical explanation of how the spider Anansi brought stories to the earth. The children located Africa on a globe and learned about the many landforms that exist there, such as rainforests, grasslands, deserts and plains, as well as some of the animals living in each African habitat. There are many “Anansi” stories in which Anansi is portrayed either as a spider or as a man. Anansi is a trickster, who often finds himself in trouble, but he usually triumphs over larger foes. After hearing Anansi, the Spider, as retold by Gerald McDermott, the children voted on which one of Anansi’s six gifted sons deserved the prize for saving his father from danger. They drew pictures of the spiders they had voted for and the illustrations were used for a bar graph.
We also introduced the children to the Swahili language, as they learned how to count from one to ten in Swahili. We All Went On Safari - A Counting Journey Through Tanzania, by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns, took the children on a beautifully illustrated safari through the grasslands of Tanzania, a large country in Eastern Africa. Then, the children made their own Swahili counting books.