Thursday, September 22, 2016


Because it's Thursday...and Autumn Equinox, which means I have the day off to appreciate fall (which basically means enjoying another rainy day indoors - because typhoon season) and catch up on blogging. And because Days 1-3 of Science Lab was just too great not to share!

Using 5 Senses For Observation 

Day 1 of each MGT theme always includes new name tags with related background graphics. Last month almost every child requested help by asking me to write their names in highlighter first and then they traced over it. This month EVERYBODY, including a new, not-quite-3-year-old, wrote their names virtually unassisted. Proud teacher moment! I always hang up the name tags so students can refer to them, or just see their own writing progress.

This day was about using the 5 senses to explore science-y things. One of the activities was to make observations about different spices, and use fine motor skills by tracing names (double the practice)
with glue and then sprinkling said spices on to make "spicy names". I rounded up 5 different spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, taco seasoning, oregano, and black pepper. I scooped each spice into an empty ice tray and allowed students smell and then talk about their observations. My newest little had trouble with concept of inhaling, so every time I invited him to smell a spice, he would exhale through his nose and send spices flying all over the table. :) They don't all have equal vocabulary for talking about aromas, so it very quickly got narrowed down to what was a "yummy" smell, or a "yucky" smell. The general consensus was that cinnamon was the yummiest, and oregano and taco seasoning tied for the yuckiest. I did the same activity the following day with 2 students who were absent, and they both had the opposite reaction. They LOVED the taco seasoning spice as well as the black pepper, and were not such big fans of the cinnamon.


States of Matter

Day 2 was all about the states of matter, illustrated with water. The kids were really excited to play the solid-liquid-gas bead game with the foam dice. We used the measuring cups included in the curriculum materials to observe water as liquid, solid (ice), and gas (steam from hot water, which I was very careful not to allow them to touch directy). We observed what happened to the hot water when the mirror was placed over the container, and also what happened to the outside of the container with the ice. We listened to the Science Lab CD, and the instrumental track entitled Freeze and Melt organically morphed into a dance/game illustrating the concept in real life. They had so much fun, we ended up continuing the activity for a solid 20-25 minutes!


Mixing It Up

On Day 3, we talked about what kinds of things can be mixed up and then separated again...or not. For one small group, I gave them 3 different colors of sand in a sensory bin and allowed them to stir, mix, and write with their fingers to see what happened. The art project was all about mixing colors to make new colors. Even though most of them already could verbally tell me what color could be made by mixing 2 other colors, they were amazed to actually watch it happen on their own papers!

The verdict is in: science is cool! We are just getting started, and we're excited to dig a little deeper and learn more about how the world around us works.

Peace, Love, And Happy Fall!!

Happy International Day of Peace!

We started the day by talking about chemical reactions. That totally relates to Peace Day, right??!! More than you would think! It was Day 4 of our MGT  theme Science Lab. The "Question of the Day" on the daily topic poster was,"Would you rather mix things together to get bubbles, or a very loud 'BOOM!'?" Not surprisingly, the boys were far more intrigued with the "BOOM" and the girls wanted to make bubbles. :)

It just so happened that reading about Alfred Nobel (in this month's storybook, Ingenuity) was on the lesson plan for the day. I spent a little extra time talking about how Nobel used his influence and finances to encourage others to be creative in their fields by offering awards for outstanding contributions to society, such as the Nobel Peace Prize, among others.

I threw in another "Peace" element to the art project of the day by drawing a peace symbol on the paper, outlining it with glue, and letting each child add whatever other designs they wanted before we sprinkled it with salt, and painted with sparkly watercolor. Admittedly, it didn't quite turn out pinterest photo worthy final products. I've done salt painting before and it turned out great, so I'm not sure if it was the difference in consistency of the Japanese glue, or teacher error in not waiting til the glue dried...But, what mattered most is that the kids were AMAZED and EXCITED about their "Peace Art" creations, so whatever it looks like when it dries (because they were still soaked with paint at the end of the day), it will be counted as success.

We read the same excerpt about Alfred Nobel in the Kindergarten class and they enjoyed playing with the story pieces and thinking up rhyming words to write in their word books. One group played with the colorful alphabet cards included in this month's box, while the other group arranged math manipulative "pie pieces" to create colorful peace signs and practiced drawing it on small white boards. Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of that activity.

We also read one of my very favorite children's books by my favorite author, The Peace Book by Todd Parr, on my iPad. Our Kindergarten "Peace Art" and writing was inspired by the book. Somehow it worked out that one table decided to make the peace sign, and the other table decided to draw the world and "friends", as seen on the cover of the book. They did such a fantastic job! I was super proud of their creativity, expression, and great handwriting!


There is a lot of room in this world for us to grow and promote peace with each other. My students make me proud, and give me hope for a Peace-filled future!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Ingenuity In Kindergarten

Our "Science Lab" MGT curriculum box arrived last week, and was brought to me upstairs in the kindergarten classroom. My kindergarteners experienced Mother Goose Time for the last 1/2 of their Pre-K year, but this year there is a different K curriculum. Let's just say it's slightly less exciting than MGT, but I at least try to stick with similar themes.

Since the box was brought the K room, they wanted me to open to see what was inside. One student asked in a rather forlorn little voice,"Do we get to do those projects, too?" How could I say no??!! I pulled out the story book of the month, entitled Ingenuity, which is all about famous scientists and inventors. It happened to fit perfectly with our theme of "Jobs People Do", so we read the first section all about Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion.

One of my main objects for the kindergarten class is to foster of love of writing, so they write almost daily in their journals about various relevant topics. I decided this would be a good month to use the Little Journals for the K class. They designed the cover of their journals and wrote a sentence about what kind of scientist they would want to be. I played the Science Lab CD while they worked, and they were quite surprised to hear some familiar songs from previous MGT themes.

"If I were a scientist, I would be a mathematician teacher."

"If I were a scientist, I would be a structural engineer." 

"If I were a scientist, I would  be a botanist."

We tested out the Laws of Motion using toy cars in a variety of shapes, sizes, and weights. They made some very insightful observations. I threw in some funny (but informative) youtube videos, which is always a crowd pleaser.

I love that MGT is flexible and practical for different ages and learning levels. Seeing my students get excited about exploring new and complex ideas is why I do what I do! I'm looking forward to seeing their own ingenuity throughout this month.