Thursday, January 26, 2017

At The Gan we entice the children with engaging, imaginative activities, art and play.
To learn the life cycle of the butterfly, we acted it out: 
egg, caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly.
Lochlan: Ok Miles I was the caterpillar now I have to be in my chrysalis.
To help us learn our letters and sounds, we play games with flying butterflies.
We enhanced our sense of wonder as we took a closer look at butterflies.
Morah Katie: What do you see on the butterfly wings?
Lochlan: They both have blue.
Matan: They look the same. They match each other.
Lochlan: But butterflies can't fly backward like dragonflies.
We used that knowledge to make our own butterflies. 
Mason: Now the wings close.
Lakshmi: It's the same on both sides!
We used our imaginations to become butterflies so we could better understand how they use their proboscis', their long coiled straw like tongue.
Butterflies use their proboscis' to sip nectar from flowers.
Throughout the week we observe and ask a lot of questions. These are the primary ways we discover what our friends know and comprehend. 
There are moments when a child will give an incorrect answer. Mistakes are part of learning, and important for growth.
How we respond to inaccurate answers that provides the child with the correct information, yet doesn't trample his budding spirit, is important.
Morah: How many legs does a butterfly have?
Child: 8.
Morah: How many legs does an insect have? 
Child: 5
Morah: Let's think about the honey bee, it had 6 legs.  Is it an insect?
Child: It is.
Morah: How about a dragonfly? It had 6 legs.
Child: But it flies better then it walks.
Morah: TRUE!  It still has 6 legs.  And fireflies, they have 6 legs.  Are they insects? 
Child: Yes and they light up in their special abdomen. 
Morah: They are all insects with 6 legs. Butterflies are insects. How many legs do you think a butterfly has?
Child: 6.
Morah: I agree with you.
It is easy to say, "No a butterfly has 6 legs".  It is quicker to just give the correct answer.
So much understanding between a child and teacher can be lost when we do not take the added time to have a conversation.
Having had this conversation, I now know that this child remembers the dragonfly is a poor walker,  and the firefly has a special organ in its abdomen that lights up.  He just doesn't remember, or retain, that insects have 6 legs.
More importantly if I had simply said NO and corrected him and moved on, perhaps I could have cost this child some self esteem.  There could have been  a chance this child was guessing, worried he would fail. If that was the case and I said, "wrong!" why should he take a risk next time?
Between the ages of 0-6 a child's mind is like a sponge soaking up everything around him.
I am taking full advantage of this absorbent mind. I am giving the child information that he may remember when he comes across it again in elementary or middle school.  I do it because it never fails to impress me what a child will share with me.
Morah Katie: What have we learned about butterflies?
Miles: They have 3 sets of arms.
Morah Katie: (pause) They do have 3 sets of arms, or we could say 6 legs.  I like how you described  that fact Miles.
Jade: And honey bees have proboscis' too. They carry nectar in it back to the hive from the flower to make the honey with.
Morah Katie: Yes Jade, they do. I am so excited and impressed you remembered that fact. Honey bees were the first insect we studied.
It is a joy to see the pride on their faces when they reveal their knowledge and capabilities.
Jade uses her name card as a guide to practice writing it herself.
On this day, after each letter she said: I did it! For real! I did it!
Aura counted the red and blue rods to place them in order form 10-1 to make the maze, 
something she had seen Olivia build 2 months ago.
Olivia completed her hundred board.
These accomplishments were in between playing, helping and sharing.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Firefly how your glow!

Art fosters and develops creativity, imagination and self-esteem.
Art allows a child to show us their thoughts, beliefs, and understandings of the world.
The most effective learning occurs when the child is doing something they can relate to, participate in, or have a hands on experience with.
How can we better understand insects? 
We can create our own.
A child develops their critical thinking skills when they create their artistic version of a honey bee, dragonfly or firefly.
 Emily: My dragonfly has 2 wings so it flies up and down, back and there and up and here.   All over.
Mason: And it can swoop and catch fish, some of them can because they can fly so fast and down.

Through observation and discussion children can develop a greater appreciation and understanding of the natural world and the wonder it holds. 
Matan: A bug has 6 legs.  That bug has lots of legs though, what type of bug is that?
Morah Katie: Let’s count how many legs it has.  It has 56 legs, I think it may be a centipede. A centipede seems like it should be an insect but it isn’t. It is an arthropod, they have many body segments with one pair of legs for each body segment!  Is that an insect?
Matan: No, an insect just has 3 body parts.
Morah Katie: When we breathe do we start to glow?
Lochlan: NO. We aren’t fireflies.
Morah Katie: Why do fireflies glow? 
Lochlan: A special chemical in their belly when they breathe it lights up.
Olivia: It's in their lantern, it's in their belly.  It's when they breathe in oxygen.
Morah Katie: If you were looking at frog and it began to glow, could you guess what it ate?
Sophia: Fireflies.
Jade: The frogs eat the fireflies and get them in their bellies and then the frogs light up.
Children have a natural sense of wonder, and learn effortlessly.
They maintain better retention of a concept when they interact with an activity which reinforces what they are studying.

*Thank you to the Weniger family for the net donation.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Morah Katie: Looking at this bug what do we already know?
Matan: It has 6 legs.
Aura: It has 3 body parts. 
Morah Katie: Can you guess what bug we will be learning about this week?
I know I am not an artist, but I did my best to draw this particular bug.
Lochlan: It's a dragonfly!
Morah Katie: It is! Thanks Lochlan, I feel so acknowledged.  
We are going to learn about dragonflies and how they fly.
We learned that dragonflies have 2 pairs of wings.
 They can move their wings in two different directions, one set going forward and one set going backward.
Morah Katie: It allows them to hover in one spot while they hunt for pesky mosquitoes and swoop down to grab one, or fly side to side or straight up. It even allows them to fly backwards!
It can be difficult to imagine the wings doing this. I shared a slow motion video which allowed the kids to see the wings moving in their dynamic fashion and so differently from other flying insects.

We had an interesting visitor in class this week. 
Mason: Wow what is that?
Morah Katie: How many legs does it have?
Mason: 4
Morah Katie: How many body parts does it have?
Olivia: Well it doesn't have 3, it looks like one long one.
Morah Katie: So we know it is not a 
Lochlan: Bug!
Morah Katie: It looks like it is a newt of some kind. How do you think it got into the classroom?
Olivia: Maybe it came from the vents the in the ceiling?
Mason: Or maybe it came through the door.
Lochlan: Maybe it was in a plant. 
We escorted it outside so it could find a proper home for a newt.
We had a fun and engaging week and I look forward to catching fireflies with my preschool friends next week.