Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Over The River And Through The Town

There was so much excitement when our new MGT box arrived last week! I could not cut out the laminated curriculum and circle time pieces fast enough. Two girls grabbed the Bible story pieces and used the theme poster as the background for the retelling of "catching the fish". Jesus, "happy Peter", and "sad Peter" were all in the boat together.

I promised to put the new calendar up as soon as I had time to put everything together.They decided to help me put the numbers on, so I made it into a number and pattern recognition game.

They worked together to make a river with our colored plank blocks and filled it up with the "funny ducks" (nativity character rubber ducks) floating down the river, along with some other river wild life.

I had high hopes of going on a field trip to a nearby bug museum and butterfly house, but apparently teachers for 600 other local elementary students had the same brilliant idea on the same days. We opted for a short jaunt over the the river back to sky park for 1/2 the day on Friday. We made observations about the river and the bridges we crossed on the bus ride.

I brought along bubbles and the giant parachute to make connections with the new theme. It was a little bit windy so it was tough to capture photos of children and bubbles at the same time! We were on the look out for bees and butterflies as well. One child reported seeing "big, little, AND medium sized bees".

At one point, while shaking the parachute vigorously, one child exclaimed,"Kairu sensei, it looks like the river!" I was feeling pretty proud that she made that connection without me saying anything at all.

When we returned to school in the afternoon, the kids made their river collages. I had some different kinds of sand, so I allowed them to choose which one they wanted. By the last small group, they had discovered they could mix the sands together to change the color and texture along the river banks. I also gave them a choice of green felt or paper from the scrap bin. For the sake of time, I cut out the grass and bushes, but under the direction of each child (long, short, tall, big pieces, etc.)

The collages turned out so cute, and the kids really thought about what they saw along the river on the field trip and how they could put that in their pictures.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bees, Butterflies, And Beyond

We just couldn't get enough of the bees and butterflies theme! After we came back from the Golden Week holiday, we still had a few more butterfly days to complete while we waited for the May box to arrive. That gave us time to catch up on unfinished projects, finish our MGT little journals, and do some extension activities as well.

The open-ended watercolor butterfly portraits were a favorite, especially for the teacher! I couldn't pass up an opportunity to be creative with my kiddos. One of my students was quick to identify the butterfly I painted as the Peacock Butterfly, thanks to the picture on the daily topic poster.

I also let them draw bees and butterflies on the white board. Some of them used magnet shapes to trace, and others drew free hand. There were also several abstract portraits of "Kairu sensei" skipping through the flowers.

They used the shape connectors to make caterpillars and flowers for the butterflies to land on. The sticky butterfly toy was great for a little game with the vocabulary builder cards.

I really wanted to do another art project that went beyond the curriculum, and I had seen an idea on Pinterest using wooden spoons and tissue paper to make butterflies. I remembered that we had some little wooden spoons from the Christmas activity pack that we never had time to use, so I pulled them out and let the kids design their own butterflies as a free choice activity. The boys decided they wanted to make caterpillars. They got so creative, and they were so excited about making them! It was a fun sensory project with lots of different textures.

We also did a story extension, in which they chose one of the flowers from "One Busy Bee" and cut out the appropriate number and shape of petals to make it. When they were finished gluing the pieces on, they wrote the corresponding number on the paper, as well.

When we finally made it outside to the park for recess (lots of rainy days), we found some black and white, and tiny yellow butterflies fluttering in and out of the gate. They are such fascinating creatures, and provide endless opportunities for observation and learning.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Not Just A Name Plate

Every month, on Day 1 of the MGT curriculum theme, there are name plates for each child to write on, with theme related art around the margins. I typically display them on the wall, along with other art work. On more than one occasion, I have found my students referring to the name plates to identify their own names as well as the names of classmates.

Today, a 3 year old student asked to "color", grabbed a paper off the top of the pile in the miscellaneous paper basket, and requested help to spell the "words" (the objects on the page). After the parent volunteer helped her with a couple words, I sat down with her and continued. I was amazed by her knowledge of letter/sound correspondence and only provided guidance when she had trouble locating a letter with the sound she needed somewhere in the room. She repeatedly made reference to the name plates for familiar letter sounds in classmates' names. (beginning and ending sounds) Whether it was the proximity of the name plates to where she was sitting, or the familiarity of the names, it was the first time I noticed a child independently using the name plate display to find information they needed for something other than just a list of names.

It was a very proud moment when she finished writing the last word just before clean-up time...for the little writer, and the teacher!