Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Our Bird Nest Discoveries

An interest in "birds" has been common among many of my students this entire school year.  It started  last fall when a student brought in a petrified hummingbird, lovingly named "Anna", in for us to observe.  At that time I really thought it would turn into a large inquiry but the children's interest veered off in another direction.  They did however continue to paint birds from time to time and add them to a decorative tree in our room.
Our same friend who shared Anna the Hummingbird with us recently brought in a new bird's nest for us to observe.  The children began making little eggs to place in this nest and one that we already had in our science center. 
You can imagine their excitement when our wonderful custodian, Ms. Melissa, brought in an abandoned Robin's nest for us to observe!
We quickly got to work with recording our observations and wonderings!
The word list/anchor chart has been particularly helpful in assisting the children with their independent writing about the eggs and nest.  We created the chart together during a class meeting.
During our class discussions it became clear that the children understood why mama bird left the nest.  It was in a garden and they decided there was too much noise with the tractors and gardening going on.  What they were disappointed about was the fact that our eggs would not hatch. =(  They were hoping for some baby Robins to care for I think.  As a substitute we watched videos together of baby Robins hatching and also one of a mama Robin building her nest. 
We have a lot of other exciting things going on in our room right now but I am curious to see if their interest in the Robin's nest will continue.  I know some have expressed a desire to have Anna the Hummingbird come back for another visit!

In the meantime we will continue to observe and move on to the next big item of interest!  So much to do in so little time.....only 25 school days left!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Beginning of an inquiry.....The Puffer Fish

My oldest son also happens to be one of our high school helpers in our kindergarten classroom first thing in the mornings.  Recently we read a book about Puffer Fish while my son was working with some of my students. I told the kids that he had a Puffer Fish (mummified) that he got on vacation one year and maybe he could bring it in. Total excitement!

Then.....my son forgot to bring it in the next day.

Of course this was my fault. If you have teenagers you know what I mean.

However, he did remember today and once again total excitement from 22 Kindergartners!

Today I wanted to let them have opportunities to observe the Puffer Fish and develop questions about this creature.  They also LOVED watching videos of real Puffer Fish puff up as they were writing about our model. 

Stay tuned for updates on their observations and wonderings.  I can't wait to see where they go with this topic!

Monday, April 7, 2014

An Inquiry of Beavers

Well lets just say that my little darlings have been busy little beavers this past month! I have enjoyed watching this class really develop deep interest in special topics/projects this year.   Their interests start off slowly and usually with just a few of the kids. But as the inquiries become more complex I'm finding more and more of our classmates want to participate in the fun! 

So early in the year this class became VERY interested in maps and that led to an inquiry about the St. Louis ARCH.  It was a fun inquiry and one that many could relate to since the Arch is not too far away and many of my students have had the chance to visit it.  As the excitement about the Arch died down we moved on to the regular day to day activities in our literacy and math centers.  Smaller inquiries started to form. Some were about dinosaurs and a small study about the moon and space.  However, I did not expect BEAVERS of all things to be our next topic of interest. 

I am not a fan of rodents.

At all.

So when it was apparent that we may be studying Beavers I myself was not too excited. However, this interest all began with yet another ARCH structure being built in our block area.  Even though that project ended around Christmas my kiddos still enjoy building the Arch.  On one particular day the Arch structure turned into something else.
I asked the group to describe this structure to me and they did so by writing about it.
"We are holing the water (back) on the structure."  So they built a dam.  This was one of those block structures that they entire class became excited about....even if they didn't participate in the building of it. You know we've all had those structures in our classrooms! So the next morning I tried to build upon this during our morning message. 
I really thought the project would take off as a study of "dams."  This class not only has shown an interest in the Arch this year, but the Eiffel Tower and all sorts of bridges.  So I thought a study of "dams" would be logical. I wasn't sure if they would become interested in man made dams or beaver dams so we began to read and discuss both. 
As the discussions began in was clear that their interest was leaning more to learning about Beavers...so a  Beaver Inquiry began!  Below are some of the writing, building and art projects that occurred over the course of about a month.  Although I'm still not a "rodent" fan I do have to say I have a new appreciation for beavers!
One of the beaver facts the kids clued in to was that beavers build a dam and then build their lodge which they get to by underwater tunnels.  Below you can see their representations of this.

Who knew there were so many books written about beavers! Below you can see some of their favorite beaver facts.

"I like beavers because they have fur and their fur is soft. "

"Beavers can make dams for them.  Beavers live in the pond. They slap their tails (when their is danger.) Beavers have caves."
Noodle collages was another fun way the kids could show their representations of beaver dams and lodges!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A License to Read!

Do you remember when you got your very first driver's license?  Many of us do and remember it very fondly! =) 

Well the kiddos down the hall from our class in Mrs. D's room get to earn their license a little early....just it's not a drivers license but a READING LICENSE! 

Mrs. D has been using this tool for some time now to help her students choose good fit books for their familiar book baskets.  Everyone in her room is issued a Beginner's License with a black dot on it. 
The black dot (under their age) corresponds with the first of her leveled tubs in her class library.

Above you can see her orange tubs which have the black dots on them. Students start by choosing books from the first tub and progress onto tub three. 
Once they feel that the black dot books in tub three are too easy they can schedule a conference with Mrs. D.  Together they will decide if they are ready to move onto the next level of books.
After they move onto the next color/level they are issued an upgraded license!! Whoo-hoo!!   Mrs. D puts a new color sticker on their license and they can begin to choose books from the next level.  They get so excited when they are able to upgrade!!
What a fun way to encourage reading to self or reading to others! =)

Friday, January 31, 2014


We have all had those students that really touch our hearts in one way or another while they spend their days with us in our classrooms.  Last year I had an amazingly close knit group. They really and truly cared about one another.  Something that is sometimes hard to achieve in a classroom but this group did it effortlessly. I could go on and on about how wonderful this group was. I am so glad to have been connected with these little guys even if it was for just a short time in Kindergarten.

And so the story of a friendship formed in Kindergarten continues now into first grade for two of my boys. It is amazing to see how their bond was strengthened due to very sad and unfortunate challenge presented to one of the boys. Their friendship has now received national and even international attention!  You can  see their story here that was featured on the Today Show and NBC Nightly News.

If you would like more information on Zac's story or to donate to his fund you can check out his page here

Their story is truly inspiring....  =)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Lights at the Light Table

Just before our Christmas break began I was looking for something new at the light table to keep my kids engaged.  I put out our "Christmas Lights" book and the interest in creating their own light designs really took off at our light table and overhead center.  As an added bonus literacy was integrated through the Christmas Lights book and several also wrote about their representations! =) 

Take a peek at what they came up with............

The "before" picture of the overhead center which is right next to our light table.
This pair created a North Pole scene.  The bears are the elves!
They were very excited to see the image on our ceiling!
They collaborated together to write sentences describing their scene.
At the light table another pair began their own Christmas Lights design.

"The lights are flashing." 
This student picked a particular image she wanted to re-create.
I love her written description of her design! "The purple triangles and the reindeer and the red circles are his nose and the bottles are the people. "
Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, November 22, 2013

What We Are Interested In Now....the St. Louis Arch

Whoo-hoo! We have our first big project going on! I'd been waiting to find something the children were very interested in on their own.  I tend to do a lot of thematic teaching but prefer it when the children begin to show interest in something that we can begin to investigate together! 

Sooo....this one started with a map.  Several were very interested in drawing their own pictures of Texas and Alaska.  At some point someone found St. Louis and said they just saw the Arch that weekend. 

We live in a small town about 45 minutes away from St. Louis so the Arch is reasonably close enough for many of my kids to have seen before.  Once the discussions of the Arch began we started investigating books about the monument. 

When I began some discussions with the kids about their drawings/writing about the Arch I discovered that many did not know it was in St. Louis. A few told me Chicago and even more thought it was in our hometown!  So we created an Arch word list to help us with our writing and began reading about what other things there are to see in St. Louis. 

My kids really love this picture of the last piece of the Arch being placed. They have studied it over and over again as they try to create their own block structures of the Arch.

One of my students was very excited to share a picture of her Great Grandpa who had helped to build the Arch!!  She was quite famous herself on the day she brought this in!  =)

Some of our Arch sculptures

A mural a small group created

A plan for an Arch block structure

The finished project!
The interest in the Arch has been going strong for about two weeks now. I plan on bringing in some models of the Eiffel tower to see where they go with that.  I'm hoping Mr. M would consider sending me on  a field trip to Paris so I can bring home some actual photos of it for the kids to observe.  One can only dream.......
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