Monday, February 28, 2011

Ocean Playscape

We were just so captivated with the children's large painting that was made last Friday. The beautiful mix of colours - blue, white, and green - reminded us of a living ocean. We were inspired to create an ocean playscape using it as the background for play. We added plastic fish, seawood, and shells as props for the play. The children spent time working together to explore the materials.

Introducing More Literacy into the Spy Head Quarters

Our Spy Head Quarters is still our most popular center, even after almost 2 weeks of play. Most of our children spent their playtime there again today. Mr. Cipkar helped encourage more literacy at the center by introducing the concept of maps to the children. They were very eager to use them!

Some children incorporated the maps into their dramatic storytelling, using them as props in their adventures as spies.

Others used the sticky notes and large wall map to record 'sightings' that they felt were important to share with other spies.

We also included a globe in the center to add more depth to the children's play.

Mr. Cipkar also placed a "Secret Spy Stuff" book into the center in order to encourage the children to engage in more writing. By recording ideas in the book, the spies could record important information and share it with one another.

Some of the children spent time with Mrs. Oshar writing about their adventures at the spy center. We are hoping to compile these pages into our very own spy book!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Catching a Centipede

It's so interesting to see what emerges from the children's interests and imaginations! At arrival time the children found a centipede crawling around on the floor. A few were scared, but the majority of the children were interested in the creature. We found a large clear viewing jar and invited the children to try and catch the centipede so we could observe it at our science table. The children waited and waited but the centipede did not reemerge.

Wanting to capitalize on their interest, we headed down to the library to find some books that showed pictures of centipedes and provided some interesting information. We spent time looking through them and putting sticky notes on pages we thought had important information.

Discussing the books together.

They are looking for the centipede near the original sighting place. Notice the spy gear from the spy headquarters! It was interesting to see how the children became detectives, looking for clues as to where the centipede might be. 

Looking everywhere for that tricky centipede!

Some of the children were interested in creating a trap to catch the centipede. Miss Rahman helped them out!

We turned our sand center into a garden, complete with lots of plastic insects to play with.

The trap is almost ready...

One of the children decided to pretend that he caught the centipede by placing the plastic one from the sand center into the original viewing jar. Many of the children played along and were satisfied that their spy work had paid off!

Others still wanted to make their traps.  We read in one of our books that centipedes like to chase worms down their worm holes. We placed a 'worm' in the trap in order to attract the centipede. We also thought they might like leaves, so we put those in there as well.

Just before leaving we placed the trap on the floor near the original centipede sighting. The children are hoping to return to school on Monday and find their centipede! We can't wait to see what shows up in the trap!

2.5 interact cooperatively with others in classroom events and activities (e.g., offer and accept help in group situations, engage in small- and large-group games and activities, participate in democratic decision making)

2.1 demonstrate an interest in reading (e.g., expect to find meaning in pictures and text; choose to look at reading materials; respond to texts read by an EL–K team member; reread familiar text; confidently make attempts at reading)

2.6 use prior knowledge to make connections (e.g., to new experiences, to other books, to events in the world) to help them understand a diverse range of materials read by and with the EL–K team

2.10 retell information from non-fiction materials that have been read by and with the EL–K team in a variety of contexts (e.g., read-alouds, shared reading experiences), using pictures and/or props

2.1 select and use materials to carry out their own explorations

4.2 state problems and pose questions as part of the design process

4.4 select and use tools, equipment, and materials to construct things using the design process


We asked the children what they'd like out on the tables today and they responded with the idea of painting! We put out a variety of colours and tools (rollers, sponges, thick brushes, thin brushes, textured brushes) and invited the children to work together on large butcher paper using their choice of tools and colours.

The finished product - BEAUTIFUL! We love the texture and colour creation!

The children's beautiful artwork inspired us to clear off one of our bulletin boards and invite the children to create a very large piece of artwork for classroom decoration. We plan to enjoy the painting and then use it as background for other artwork. The children loved painting the 'wall'.

Some Ontario Curriculum Expectations fulfilled by this activity include:

1.2 demonstrate the ability to take turns in activities and discussions (e.g., engage in play activities with others, listen to peers and adults)

1.2 identify and talk about their own interests and preferences

V2.1 explore a variety of tools, materials, and processes of their own choice  to create visual art forms in familiar and new ways (e.g., use natural and recycled materials at a learning centre)

V2.2 explore different elements of design

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning Goals

After attending a teaching workshop this week, we were inspired to begin a program with our children where we help set learning goals for our students in the classroom. We are hoping that by helping the children to articulate exactly what skills or concepts they are exploring in whole and small group activities, they will be able to plan for and reflect upon their learning. We are using the terminology "learning goals" to refer to this.

The curriculum expectations we used to support these learning goals include:

1.2 listen and respond to others for a variety of purposes (e.g., to exchange ideas, express feelings, offer opinions) and in a variety of contexts (e.g., after read-alouds and shared reading or writing activities; while solving a class math problem; in imaginary or exploratory play; at the learning centres; while engaged in games and outdoor play; while making scientific observations of creatures outdoors)

2.2 make predictions and observations before and during investigations

We have decided to introduce the idea of the learning goals in our written morning message to children. This way we can review with them what it is they will be specifically learning within our large group circle.

Today's learning goal was to pay attention.

With time we will help the children to evolve this concept so it is more in depth and even more connected to the curriculum.

We encouraged children to pay attention to details using a variety of strategies. First Miss Rahman asked the children to explore a picture that had some odd details that couldn't normally be found in our real world. The children were keen to point out what they noticed in the picture.

Next Miss Rahman played a game with the children where she would hide certain objects from a large collection and the children would have to recall the objects and guess which was missing.

First the collection was displayed...

Next Miss Rahman covered the objects up and asked children to close their eyes while she removed one or more objects.

Finally children had the chance to view the group again and think about what was missing.

During playtime children had the chance to observe their fingerprints closely and pay attention to the differences they noticed. We invited the children to stamp their fingerprints on a transparency and then use the overhead machine to project their fingerprints on the wall.

At the end of the morning we read a story called "Have You Seen My Duckling?" that required the children to look for where the missing duck was located on each page. There were very few words in this story, so the children had to look carefully at the pictures in order to tell the story themselves. Their interpretations of the pictures were interesting to listen to!

When your child comes home from school tonight, why don't you ask him or her what the learning goal for the day was, and if they were successful in attaining this goal.
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