Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tracking Small Humans

So it turns out that the stomach flu is going around. Five teachers, countless students, and a few parents down so far...including me. Strangely enough, cleaning up after the kids and holding their head while food comes up is highly contagious.

On a much happier note, today is almost Friday!

I've started a Facebook and Instagram account for my new pet cheetah, Rita. She's a cool cat who likes to go on all kinds of adventures, and posts photos about her interesting encounters. Who knows, someday she may travel the world and save it from the evil villains who are trying to take over, or possibly aliens. Who knows? The lava monsters in Kona might need a good solid Cheetah fight!

Today was a day of footprints in the sand! We are discussing foresters and tracks that animals leave, in continuation with our forest theme, so of course we did the whole "painting with our animals". Who doesn't do that? I also made a book with the ABCs of different animal tracks (A is for Armadillo tracks, B is for Bobcat...etc) which is in their writing center.

Speaking of writing, I finished creating the writing packets today. They are in their infancy still, so I don't have them ready for viewing yet, but as soon as I am done I shall post them online for all to see!

Moving on.

We started our "human tracks" experiment with some wet sand. We all thought it was pretty plain, so of course we added some liquid watercolors to make it more beautiful! What started out as plain white sand (filler for a sensory table, of course) soon became a blast of colors!

And, because we've been talking about primary colors, and I'm not one to miss a golden (and red and blue) opportunity, I chose three specific colors.

Which we then, of course mixed. Rainbow sand! Can you guess what color it ended up as? Definitely not rainbow...

After making the sand and eating snack, we kicked off those old shoes and stepped in the sand to make our own tracks, seeing how our feet (and later our hands and our dinosaurs) made impressions in the sand. We talked about how a forester can use these tracks to determine what kind of animal made them (see how the shape of the footprint matches your foot?) and also can follow them to the animal and see where it has been. Afterward, we of course documented our experiences by drawing our footprints and tracing our hands and feet.

I got several good questions: what kind of tracks does a dragon make? How about a snake? We discussed what these would look like, and used our beaver as an example for some--he has a low tail which drags in the sand.

To finish, here is a bit of a conversation from yesterday while on the playground.

"I am a tiger!" -Monkey
"I am a dragon! ROOOOAR!" -Bean
"I'm a TUBA!" -Shoes

Thursday, December 5, 2013

I Love It When I Am Called Away From Planning Time to Clean Up Puke

Here is how I know it is winter: I have 8 additional blankets on top of my comforter, and I'm still cold. Tonight it will be a desperate battle between cold and blankets, and we shall see if the blankets can rise up and conquer the cold.

For now, I'll just shiver and hope my body eventually warms my little burrito tunnel up. Hard to do when my limbs are made of ice.

Here's another clue: my classroom has officially lost its leaves. Farewell leaves, we shall miss your beautiful colors! It is now time for the blues, grays, and whites of winter! Also intricate snowflakes. And here they are! Aren't they pretty?

I cut these the same way I do my leaves; draw a stencil, trace them on stapled butcher paper (or printer paper for the white ones), and cut them out. Then, with fishing line and tape, I have cheap, easy, pretty decorations that are pleasing to the eye and pretty fun to make as well. I get compliments on them all the time.

This time around, I added a bit; I sparkled a few so that they looked like real snow. My kids helped. Used mod podge and fine glitter to make "glitter paint", which got all over the table and floor. They loved it though.

My lesson plan for today (which involved forests and mountains) was unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of the "fixer guy" who came to change a few ceiling tiles that had leaks. Since it was too cold to go out for very long, we spent about half an hour watching him replace tiles. Each time a new one was taken out (leaving a gaping hole in our ceiling), we counted, using the experience to see how math can be used in real life as well as practicing "one more" and "one less". I have several very good counters who figured out the system easily after only a few tries.

Then of course, my creative types came up with the idea that dragons live in our ceiling, and we have to be quiet or they'll wake up. One of my girls, codename "Monkey" told me, out of the blue, "When I'm a monkey, I'm going to climb into the ceiling and defeat the dragon." Since we were talking about dragons, this didn't surprise me. I asked her when she was going to turn into a monkey though. Her reply? "For Christmas."

Of course. Should have thought of that myself.

My less enjoyable event of the day was when one child, codename "Curly", threw up while I was planning. Needless to say, I wasn't able to finish, since I had a lovely mess to clean up. Poor guy, I don't think he knew what hit him.

I ate the same thing for lunch...hope it isn't slow acting!

Another mid-close up of my snowflakes :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Singing and Dancing and Singing, oh Joy!

I'm constantly trying to introduce my kids to knew music (to them), including as many genres as I can. I love world music, and kids music, and what preschool classroom would be complete without Disney music? These are all classic favorites of theirs, and I'm totally up for playing them all day. Lately though, I've been trying to expose them to some of my favorites by sneaking them into CDs with songs they'll like. I just burnt three new CDs; the Frozen soundtrack, and two "mixed tapes" (do people still do that?).

The Naptime CD:
Landslide, Fleetwood Mac
I'm Coming Home, by Diddy
I Won't Give Up, by Peter Hollens (an A Capella version)
Boston, by Augustana
When I See You Smile, by Bad English
Africa, by Toto
The Impossible, by Joe Nichols
Puff, The Magic Dragon, by Peter, Paul and Mary
When You Say Nothing At All, by Alison Krauss
Let It Be, by The Beatles
Dream Big, by Ryan Shupe
Superman (It's Not Easy), by Five for Fighting
How To Save A Life, by The Fray
Man With A Memory, by Joe Nichols
Hold My Heart, by Sara Bareilles
100 Years, by Five For Fighting
White Flag, by Dido

The Awake CD:
How Your Love Makes Me Feel, by Diamond Rio
The Fox, by Ylvis
Mamma Mia, by ABBA
Wavin' Flag, by K'Naan
Hurts So Good, by John Mellencamp (I meant to put a different song in, but I like this one too)
Footloose, by Kenny Loggins
I Wanna Dance With Somebody, by Whitney Houston
Shine Your Way, by Owl City
What Made You Say That, by Shania Twain
Landslide, by Fleetwood Mac
Stuck Like Glue, by Sugarland
I Can Hear The Bells, from the movie Hairspray
Human, by Christina Perri
See You Tonight, by Scottie McCreery
Life Is A Highway, by Rascal Flatts
Brave, by Sara Bareilles
I Like To Move It, by Madegascar
Everybody Walk The Dinosaur, by Was Not Was
How Six Songs Collide, by Norwegian Recycling
American Honey, by Lady Antebellum

For all of these songs, I know them well, but often I don't hear inappropriate words. I'll be proofing them tomorrow, so if a song isn't a good one for class and you know it, don't use it!

I Love It When My Office Supplies Are Pinecones

George Takei recently posted something to his Facebook wall that I simply could not resist sharing. Any funny teacher pics, really. This one made me laugh especially, since I'm the worst when it comes to bringing stuff to school. Caps, corks, lids, and pens; cups, containers, tins and bags. If it's a thing, I want it. I have everyone I know collecting magazines for me (collage opportunity!), and whenever I see a big box, I immediately ask, "Can I have that box?" with the zeal of a true fanatic.

Today was one of those days where I had collected enough stuff to actually take it into school. In my bag of goodies, there were yogurt containers (containing water bottle lids and tin cans), Semester at Sea catalogs, scratch paper (always useful), big game dice, a paper tray, and the forest. By that I mean pinecones, leaves, pine needles and twigs, mulch and acorns and bark and dirt. It was lovely.

It is forest and mountain exploration week, just in time for December. Also, snow. It didn't stick, thank goodness, but it did snow, and the air was freezing! My hands weren't happy. The kids were, though, and that's all that matters, right?


During our morning circle, I introduced my kids to the forest. We couldn't go to it, so I brought the forest to them. It included all the things I mentioned above as well as some plastic bug counters (in real colors!). We discussed what we could smell, see, feel, and hear (though we definitely did not taste), and explained what they reminded us of. Since the colors of the forest are predominantly greens and browns, I added some paint chips (which I snag every single time I find myself in a paint department of any sort) in these colors to their art center.

In their science center for exploration time, I put the forest items on a tray with some magnifying glasses and "forest journals". The kids were able to trace, draw, or make rubbings of the items they saw. They described them to each other, and then used teamwork to make the best rubbings they could. As a lesson, it was pretty fantastic. We're keeping the science journals in our center all week.

Last, we painted with evergreens today (after learning what evergreens were on our freezing cold nature walk). The kids got to experiment with different types of art materials, getting creative with their brushes. They discovered that stroking the twigs across the paper created many thin trails, while dabbing them caused dozens of tiny speckles or lines, making for some pretty creative artwork. Later this week, we'll try making nature paint, mountain formation, and playing in a bear cave! I'll try to keep it as updated as possible.