Thursday, October 29, 2009

Using our Senses to get through the Rainforest

A look at this week:

What an amazing week, using our five senses to make it through our trip to the rainforest! First we found out how large some of the animals in the rainforest could be by making a paper anaconda. We learned that anacondas can be 30 feet long and that a 30 foot long snake would go from our art shelf, down the wall, around the office door and to the drying rack! And, not only that but if all the children were to lay down on the floor next to an anaconda, the anaconda would be longer than the entire class (head to foot)! Now our anaconda is another fixture in our room. After working with our class snake, we moved on to using our senses. The children really enjoyed using the binoculars to “see” in the rainforest. It was funny to watch some children try to find snakes, frogs and lizards in our coffee beans this week as at first, they were a little afraid to touch the beans. They said “we don’t want to get bit.” But that fear came to an end rather quickly as they realized the animals were not real! While using our sense of touch with the coffee beans, we also used our sense of hearing in the rainforest as not only did we hear true rainforest sounds but we made rain sticks to simulate the sound of the rain in the rainforest. We used our sense of smell as we smelled different scents that may be found in the rainforest and then matched the smell to cards with the words and pictures of those items. And we used our sense of taste by having avocado and pretzels for snack one day! In the meantime, we also spent some time working with letters. Although the children really enjoyed all the sense activities, I really enjoyed watching them work with their letters and seeing the excitement they displayed when realizing they learned the name of another letter! We took the magnetic letters and spelled out “rainforest” and then the children used those letters to match word cards that had other words that could be made with the same letters. Some children sounded out the words and ended up reading the words to me; some children worked on telling me the names of the letters each time they moved one; some children just matched the words; and some children just enjoyed manipulating the letters, even if they didn’t make the other words out of them. We also made paper plate frogs this week, which have been added to our rainforest and our bulletin board display.

Conversations from the week:

Since we had a special snack this week, I thought the conversation about the snack would be the best one to share!

Morah Amanda: (Holding up an avocado) What is this?

Class: Avocado

Morah Amanda: Where do you think an avocado grows?

Miriam: In a tree!

Morah Amanda: In a tree; where is a place we may be able to see an avocado growing in a tree?

Levi: Near your house

Morah Amanda: They normally grow somewhere where it is somewhat warm.

Mussie: In a forest.

Morah Amanda: What type?

Mussie: A rainforest

Morah Amanda: Possibly in the rainforest. Now let’s look at this. First of all, it is sometimes green and then starts turning brown. Do we eat this part?

Mussie: No.

Morah Amanda: No, this is the peel. We are going to cut into it.

Noah: I see the seeds.

Morah Amanda: You see the seeds? How many seeds do you think are in an avocado?

Mussie: There is one giant one.

Morah Amanda: There is one big seed.

Mussie: What if we had one big seed to make lots of avocados?

Jayden: We can touch it.

Morah Amanda: No, we aren’t going to touch it right now. It is covered in avocado. I am going to put a little bit of avocado on everybody’s plates. So that you can mash it up with your spoon.

Jayden: Yucky avocado. Yucky.

Miriam: I want some!

Morah Amanda: You can mix it up with your spoon.

Mussie: You can mash it! Jayden doesn’t want any.

Morah Amanda: That’s fine if Jayden doesn’t want any.

Mussie: (looking at a little brown part of avocado) We can’t use it when it’s dirty.

Noah: It’s dirty.

Morah Amanda: It’s fine. It is alright to eat.

Jayden: Yuck!

Morah Amanda: Ok, you can mash it up with your spoon. What do you think avocados are used to make?

Mussie: You can make a sandwich with it.

Morah Amanda: You can make a sandwich with it…

Levi: I am mashing it up!

Morah Amanda: You’re mashing it up? What else could you make with avocado?

After a little time: Avocado is used to make guacamole. You can mix it with lemon juice.

Miriam: I like avocados. Yum!

Levi: I don’t like avocados.

Morah Amanda: This is a chance to taste the rainforest by eating something we could get from a rainforest. I will give you some pretzels to eat with it. Sometimes we mix it with different foods to make it taste a little different.

Noah: Snack!

Morah Amanda: Look at how well Avery is smashing her’s!

Lizzie: I’m smashing mine!

Morah Amanda: You are doing a good job.

Lizzie: What do you do with the pretzels?

Morah Amanda: You can dip it into the smashed up avocado to help you eat it!

Jayden: Not me. I am not going to do that!

Miriam: I tried it! It’s tasty!

Morah Amanda: Let’s say the bracha. Ready?

Class says brachas together.

Morah Amanda: How does the avocado taste?

Mussie: Not so good.

Morah Amanda: Not so good? Oh, Avery is eating it with her spoon. Is it good Avery? (she nods) Avery likes it! How does it taste?

Lizzy: Yummy.

Morah Amanda: Does it taste yummy Lizzy?

Josh: I am going to try the pretzels.

Morah Amanda: Josh do you like the avocado?

Josh: No I just like the pretzels.

Morah Amanda: You just like the pretzels? Would you like to pass around the seed and feel it? Everyone can touch it. Is it heavy or is it light?

Avery: It’s not very heavy.

Morah Amanda: So, who likes the avocado?

Mussie, Levi, Avery, Miriam, Jayden: Me!

Morah Amanda: Mussie does, Levi does, Avery and Miriam do. Oh, Jayden said he likes the avocado.

Josh: I want some avocado.

Morah Amanda: You liked it?

Josh: Yes.

Morah Amanda (talking about the seed): Is it bumpy or is it smooth?

Jayden: Smooth.

Morah Amanda: Ok…we are going to see…we are going to put this on top of a cup of water and we will leave the water alone. And we will see if we can grow some roots on it.

Noah: Hey, it’s a sun!

Morah Amanda: It does look like a sun, doesn’t it?

A look at next week:

Next week we are going to start talking about transportation. As we focus this week on automobiles we are also going to look at maps, make our own passports, count wheels on different types of automobiles and make our own cars!

Smelling the rainforest scents

Raining with rainsticks in our rainforest

Avocado snack time

Rainforest word play

Using binoculars in the rainforest

What animals can you find?

The anaconda is longer than our entire class laying down!

Our Anaconda that goes around the office door

Our world wall

The rainforest

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Entering the rainforest

A look at this week:
When you walk into The Gan, the classroom may look normal. But take a few steps further inside, enter the library and you end up not only in a room where you can find books, where we read stories, and where the children can relax a little, but you also enter a rainforest! With this week’s main focus being the rainforest, we have been talking about the animals we can find in one. We even made our own snakes to put in our rainforest! For writing this week we made a class book that talks about what we see in the rainforest. This book will be continued into next week as well. For math the children focused on weighing coffee beans in our scale and also using different measuring cups to play with the beans. And while they were doing this, we also made the room smell terrific! In the block area the children used the blocks to build a rainforest. And for science we took water droppers and put a little water onto cotton balls to make rainclouds. Then the children had the opportunity to squeeze the rain out of their clouds! The children also made letters this week with a few different items. We used the coffee beans to make letters and we also made playdough snakes into letters. And when they were not busy using the playdough to make letters they were creating other rainforest animals. To bring the rainforest that much closer to the classroom we also had a special rainforest item snack by eating pineapple and coconut. Although all the children wanted the pineapple, a few did not want the coconut. However, after their friends started eating the coconut, everyone decided to try some!

Conversations from the week:
There were a few different child led conversations about the rainforest library this week. Here are a couple of them!

Upon entering the library rainforest for the first time:
Levi: Why do you have a frog like that?
Mussie: Where’s my snake?
Levi: Where’s mine?
Morah Amanda: Look for it.
Levi: Mine’s there! Mine’s in the middle.
Mussie: And mine is here, near the window.
I can touch both monkey climbing the tree.
Levi: I can touch this one.
Mussie: Why is there only one (looking at the jaguar)? Because there is only
One in the book?

Another time the lights had not been turned on in the library yet. Mussie noticed an exclaimed: It’s dark in the rainforest!

A look at next week:
The rainforest is still our main theme next week. We are going to enjoy more activities with the coffee beans including an animal find. We will be working on spelling out words using the letters in ""rainforest and also seeing how long an anaconda snake is and how far down it’s body we can jump.

Working on a book page

Eating pineapple and coconut

Making letters our of coffee beans

Making rainclouds

Making playdough rainforest animals

Catching the world

Weighing coffee beans

Looking through our class made binoculars

Shabbat Abba from last week

Shabbat Emma from last week

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The World is Growing All Around Us

A look at this week:
This week started with clouds, both inside and out, and will end with people on the wall and celebrating Shabbat. We have started our look at the world! And what goes better with talking about the world than talking about weather, especially when the weather is making a change outside? On Monday we painted our world for our mitzvah notes. And by Tuesday we were able to start putting our mitzvah notes up around the world. In the meantime, we also started to develop a mural wall about the world. The children created clouds on Monday. Tuesday we added a tree, grass, flowers and water. On Wednesday we added the sun, moon and stars. On Thursday we added some fish and birds and on Friday we will add people! It has been enjoyable to watch this wall develop over the week and to just hear the pleasure the children get from seeing the new parts added each day! While working on this we also made a class book. We talked a little about the days of the week and so we made a book where the children had to fill in the blanks to “Today is ________. _________ _________.” It was interesting to talk about what we could put for each day. Each child was able to make one page of the book. They chose the day they wanted to do and what activity they wanted for that page. Then they copied the words onto their paper. One of the most interesting parts of working with children on book pages like this is seeing how they write on their own and how they write with guidance and directions from me. While working on math, we had the chance to play with dice and talk about numbers as we matched cut out worlds to the numbers on a die and then wrote that number on a paper. The children are learning poems about how to make their numbers, and this is already proving useful in the number writing process! We also played in the sand table this week! Although the block area and the home living area were open to either build part of the world or pretend to travel, the children were really enthralled with the other world activities that we had available. We also met Wally, our weather dog. The children have already started dressing him for the weather and we are also graphing the weather, talking about what the weather was yesterday and today and predicting tomorrow’s weather.

Conversations from the week:
It was so nice that a few of our friends were concerned when some of the children were out sick this week. It was nice to hear the children ask if the others were ok and they were also telling me how much they missed their sick friends.

While at lunch this week, I overheard a very short conversation that was fun.

Jayden: She has candy.
Josh: Candy is really yummy!
Avery (while eating a piece of chocolate after finishing part of her lunch): Candy is not good for you. It is bad for your teeth!

I just had to laugh when I heard this conversation, especially as I looked at Avery with the chocolate all around her mouth and a big smile as she explained how candy was bad for you.

A look at next week:
While we continue to work on the world, we are going to move to a specific part of the world and start talking about the rainforest. You may notice a small change in one of the extra rooms we use as the environment in that room will be altered due to the theme. As we make this theme come alive in the classroom, I would also like ask that if anyone has any empty paper towel rolls, can you please send them in. We would like to use these to make rainmakers in the next two weeks. We would really appreciate it! Thank you!

Making a bird
Painting the tree trunk
Putting the world together
Playing in the sand
Making the sun, moon and stars
Working on his book page
Putting the leaves together for the tree

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Letters all around

A look at this week:
Looking for little “i’s” dot, finding uppercase letters, “scribing” in Torahs, where else could we dive deep into looking at letters? This week we read all about letters and numbers as we focused on both the alphabet and numbers 0-7. The children looked in one of our books for little i’s dot, and just as we had to look for the dot in the story, they spent a lot of time going through our sensory bucket full of streamers to find capital letters that we then matched to our lowercase letter cards. On Thursday our own little “i” lost it’s dot and we searched the classroom to find it. How surprised we were when the dot actually popped out of the book that we were reading that day. It was all the children could talk about for a little while after the story. The children also made their own Torahs and then took time to write in them with feather and paint. And while all this was going on, they also matched Torah cut-outs to numbers on number cards, reinforcing their knowledge of one to one correspondence. We started learning a few poems about numbers to help us learn how to write our numbers more clearly. In home living and block area we also had the chance to experience Simchat Torah as we pretended to get ready for a parade and built an Ark for the Torah. And just to make the week even more interesting, we had the chance to shake the lulav and etrog and also eat lunch in the sukkah!

Conversations from the week:
With so many more one-on-one activities this week, I was unable to catch a conversation to relay here. However, it was very interesting to listen to the children as they helped each other match capital and lowercase letters, they talked about how many pretzels they had at snack time and they even talked about different sizes of items.

I think my favorite conversation that I overheard this week was when Levi was upset in the play area due to a little scooter accident. Throughout the rest of the play time, the other children kept asking Levi if he was ok. And, yes, of course he was! However, it was just so nice to know that we have a class full of caring friends that really do get concerned when one of the other friends is not happy!

A look at next week:
Next week we are starting our unit on the world. The room will start a slow transformation as we start to build the world within the classroom. We will be enjoying many fun, learning activities, including making our own class books as a spin-off of Eric Carle’s Today is Monday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mitzvah notes

Dear Parents,

Throughout the next few weeks we are going to be talking about the world, some animals and plants we find in our world as well as the weather that surrounds our world.
Since our theme is going to last a few weeks, we are changing our mitzvah notes to “worlds” for the next few weeks. Please see the attached sheet of mitzvah notes and let me know when you need more.

One of the discussions we are going to have as we start talking about the world, is how our good deeds help make the world a better place. We are going to change our display to a large picture of the world that the kids will paint, then we can surround and cover it with “mitzvah note” good deeds. Please try to catch your child doing a good deed each day; even a very simple good deed is still great to share! Write it down and send it in. We would love for all the children to share mitzvah notes on a daily basis to show the importance these good deeds have on the world. Please also remember to have your child bring in tzedakah every day as giving tzedaka is part of our daily routine and this too is a good deed that can help make the world a better place for those in need.

Thank you,

Morah Amanda