Saturday, December 15, 2012

Visit from Critter Guy- Vertebrate Experience

This week we invited the Critter Guy (Mr. Paul) to come to the school and share his 'critters' with us.  As we have wrapped our study of the five types of vertebrates, it is fun to have him come and show us some other interesting animals.  He is excellent with explaining the various characteristics of the different types.  Paul lets the children participate and answer questions so they can use what they have learned over the previous weeks.  He brings four types (fish don't travel well) and lets the children interact with the animals.  First up was Woody the tree frog!  He uses his suction cup toes to stick on a string! 
Next up was the Box Turtle.  This one was very entertaining as he was competely in his shell.  Paul showed us how he closes up entirely if he is afraid.  We also got to watch him come out of his shell to eat his breakfast.  He did move fast when he heard the sound of the breakfast bag opening!

The blue tongued skink was another fun reptile to have.  The children loved watching his blue tongue come out to smell.  They also thought it was funny to watch him walk and take breaks to catch his breath.  He moves SLOWLY!

Blue Tongued Skink hanging around and eating the left over breakfast from the Box Turtle.
Mr. and Mrs. Dove are always a hit!  We were able to hear her laughing at him once they were back in the travel case. 
The Chinchilla is always a favorite!  (Some children called it a big mouse!)  It is SO soft! 
Finally Noah the Boa came out to visit! 
Most children were very interested in the snake and wanted to interact with him.  It was fun to feel the backbone as he moved slowly across our legs.  Big thanks to Paul for coming back again this year!!   

Gingerbread Cookie Baking

We continue to prepare cookie dough on Thursday afternoons so baking can be done on Friday mornings.  This week we decided to make gingerbread cookies.  The children sprinkle the surface with flour (of course after putting on an apron and washing hands!), take a ball of dough and roll out.

Using the various cookie cutters, the children cut out a shape and used the spatula to put on the cookie sheet.  Yum!


This week we introduced the idea of magnets to the children.  They were able to interact with this fun game where you copy the picture to see if you can get the magnets to look the same way.  The children enjoyed watching them float and when on the table sometimes they flip over.  We will continue more magnet work next week. 

Food Preparation- Egg Slicing

This week we offered egg slicing as our food preparation work.  The children took a hard-boiled egg to and lightly tapped it on the tray to make a crack so they could begin peeling.  Once they peeled, they placed the egg in the slicer and pushed down. 
Some children enjoyed the egg and others liked to complete this work to see how the slicer worked. 

puffy paint

This week the children enjoyed using the "puffy paint" in free art.  We changed the color each day by adding a few drops of food coloring.  The children do this work at a table and use a spoon to place the paint on the paper.  They can use their hands, spoon or paint brush to spread the paint around. 

If you would like to do this at home use a large metal bowl and add shaving cream and about the same amount of glue.  To add color, use a few drops of food coloring. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Final Vertebrate Study- Fish

As we were studying fish last week, we decided to have one of our own in the classroom.  His or her name is Snowflake (or Snowfluke depending on who you ask) and is fun to watch and feed. 
We like to give the children a concrete example of what it is we are taking about and they can see Snowflake's fins and gills. 

We also introduced fish matching cards.
As we did last year, we brought in a large, dead fish to look at the parts up close.  The children were very interested in the large eye and most wanted to touch it!  (Don't worry, they washed their hands!)
We then discussed all of the parts and many children made parts of a fish book.
We then demonstrated how to make a fish print and let the children paint the fish!  This activity only lasted two days as the fish began to not smell so fresh! 
Since the fish had seen better days, we decided to show the children the internal organs.  Some were very curious about the different internal parts as they had already found out about the external parts. 



Sewing Pouches and a Project Nearly Forgotten

 For another sewing work this week we introduced sewing a pouch.  Some children have become very proficient sewers and need very little extra help.  We used embroidery floss with felt to create the pouches.  We also decided to give the option of adding a button as they have had a lot of button practice in the past few weeks.  They only tricky part is threading the needle and tying a knot at the end.  We did introduce the children to the needle threader which really helped! 
This child made a pouch for everyone in her family!

The pouch sewing seemed to inspire another child who had taken a very long break from his stuffed animal sewing work.  This child decided to finish sewing and then we asked him to write a story about the snake.  He is a proficient reader and we are always looking for ways to help the writing process along.  He wrote several pages and took the snake and the book home with him Friday!  What an accomplishment!

Coffee Grinding

 Once again we put coffee grinding out on a table.  This was very popular last year as the children love to use the grinder and everyone likes the smell of the coffee.  To help with the independence aspect, we decided to clamp the grinder on the table instead of having to hold it for each child.  The child uses a small scoop and puts the whole beans into the top of the grinder.  They grind the beans and can hear when there are no more beans left to grind.
The drawer is opened and the grinds are then dumped into a large canister.  Last year we made coffee for the parents to enjoy at drop off.  We working out the logistics for this again this year.  We will keep you posted!

Food Preparation- Spreading Jam

 This week in the food preparation area, the children were able to learn how to spread jam on bread.  For each child, we used a new bowl of jam, a clean knife and new paper plate.
 The first step is to put on an apron and then wash their hands.  They ask a teacher for the jam and bread and carry it back to the tray.  They dip their (child sized) knife into the jam and put it on the bread. 
Then, they spread the jam on the bread.  Of course, the last step is to eat and enjoy!
Activities such as these help the child to become more independent and increases their fine motor skills. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Using the Golden Bead Material- Math!

The beauty of Montessori Math!
We were lucky enough to have a pair of students join us from out East this year.  The older child (Kindergarten age) is in his third year of Montessori.  He and one of our same age but second year children worked with the Golden Beads to complete some addition work.  Here you can see the culmination of the Montessori math work that has prepared them to this point. 
 First they laid out the large numbers on a rug.
 They brought their trays over and were each given a small number to take to the bank and gather the bead materials on their tray. 
 They both carefully place the numbers down next to the beads.  Here they see each addend in quantity and symbolic form. 
After the addends are placed, the beads are then "brought down" to the bottom.  They begin in the units and use the large numbers to "write" the sum.
If a child is given the opportunity to stay for several years in a Montessori environment you are able to see so many things come together.  Here they complete static addition in the thousands.  The next day these children completed dynamic addition the same way! 

Making Cookies

Tis the season for baking!  On Thursday afternoons, the children are beginning to make cookie dough for baking on Friday morning.  So far we have made sugar cookies and oatmeal cookies. 
 First the children put on an apron and wash their hands.  Then they take a piece of dough and put it on the floured surface.  Using the rolling pin, they flatten the dough.

 A cookie cutter is used and then with a small spatula, they transfer the cookie to the baking pan. For the oatmeal cookies, we flattened with a fork before transferring to a pan.

Once there are enough cookies on the pan, a teacher will take the pan into the kitchen to bake the cookies.  Our school smells wonderful and before we head outside to play, everyone enjoys the fruits of their labor together!   They have all learned to wait until everyone is served before eating. 
                                                                       Bon Appetit!

Discovering the Bonds of Ten

Using the addition strip board, the children are able to discover all of the numbers (addends) that add up to another number (sum).  Here, a child is discovering the bonds of ten.  It is important to show children the relationships between numbers.  They begin to understand a whole is made up of parts.  If you know the parts, you can add them together to find the whole.  You can also take away a part to find the other part.  The children also begin to think about subtraction.  They naturally see the inverse relationship between addition and subtraction. 

We usually start with ten and work our way down.  Many children choose their "bond" work in the mornings.  They have decided to do "one bond a day!" 

Afternoon study of sound

 The afternoon children studied sound.  We decided to experiment with how sound travels through a string.  We rigged up the old tin can experiment.  This worked pretty well but then each child made one to take home. 

The children used yogurt containers and with supervision, put small holes in the tops.  We then added string and made each child a set.
These actually worked much better than the tin can set.  It fit well over the ear and when pulled tight, you could hear what the other person was saying!  We learned if the string was not "taut" the sound would not travel well.  Also, if your hand is touching the string, the sound does not get to the other side. 

Human Body Book

After studying mammals, we decided to study our human body.  The children spent some time making a book about themselves!  We first measured and weighed each child. 
The next day the children traced their hands and then used ink to stamp their fingerprints.


Hand and footprints were done and added to our book. 
An amazing mom who is also a doctor, came in to teach a little about our heartbeats and reflexes. (Thanks J!)

Finally, we looked in mirrors and made self-portraits.