Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mystery of the Missing Ducks!

Here's another attempt to communicate some of the meaningful learning happening in our classroom by using iMovie as a method of merging and sharing documentation in various forms. (I'm still learning how to make text last longer on the screen and make transitions easier - thanks for your patience!)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Greenview Aviaries

What a great field trip! A BIG thank you to our volunteers for making this trip such a success!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What is that Pipe?

We are exploring how to use imovie as a way of compiling the videos and images we take during our time together and how this form of media might be used as a reflective piece for children and a method of communicating our inquiries to a larger audience. Check it out!

Still Life Painting

We are always encouraging our children to take time to enjoy the moment. In a culture of instantaneous information, our hopes are for our children to be able to slow down and notice the small details of life. One way we do this is by encouraging still life drawing and painting. This week we displayed an arrangement of fresh spring flowers in a vase and invited the children to use chalk and paint in order to create a still life representation.

Because we are also looking for ways for meaningful integration of technology, we set up a iPad with the Lapse It app ready to capture the activity at the centre. Can you spot it hanging on the white board?
Here's what happened that morning! See if you can find your child in the flurry of activity!

Early next week we are going to ask the children what they would like to film with the time lapse photography. Stay tuned to see what is important to them!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Encouraging Excellence

How do we encourage young children to strive for excellence in their day to day activities? How do we nurture a sense of ownership and pride in one's accomplishments? How do educators in a play-based program scaffold child-centered experiences so that they become layered and evolved over time?             

Today we challenged our children to do just this. We placed an inviting Magnolia blossom at one of our tables and invited the children to explore it - the beauty of its unfurling petals, the heavy perfumed air in the vase, the purity of its colour - and asked them to consider how they might represent all of these qualities in a black and white sketch.

Many children were up for the challenge and spent a lot of time at the centre, first observing the flower...

and then slowly sketching both what they saw and what they interpreted.

We once asked the children how they might go about discovering information for a question and one of their responses was to ask an expert. We are fortunate to have Miss Shi with us, and she is an amazingly talented artist. She spent time drawing alongside the children - discussing her artistic process and encouraging the children in theirs. We think it is important for children to watch a skilled person excel in their chosen task. It demonstrates what hard work and practice accomplish and gives them something to strive towards.

After much time observing and drawing, the children had some beautiful sketches.

We strive to encourage excellence in our children and program and asked those children who participated in the activity if they would consider trying a second sketch. We want them to want better for themselves. We suggested they use what they liked about their initial drawing as inspiration and add in the constructive feedback that others gave them in order to create an even better representation of the magnolia. During our end of the day circle the children came together as a class and spent time looking at the flower again. We passed the vase from child to child and each was encouraged to smell the flower and think about the beauty of the unfurling petals. We challenged the children to reflect upon their work that day and consider visiting the centre again tomorrow. For some, it would be their third attempt at a magnolia sketch. For others, it might be their first.  We can't wait to see what they accomplish!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Beautiful Stuff!

Today was the day! The children were so excited to empty our "Beautiful Stuff" bags onto the carpet during circle time and see what amazing materials came to school!

We couldn't believe the diverse art, science, and recycled objects that the children brought in.

During playtime we invited interested children to remain on the carpet and help us decide how to sort and organize the hundreds of objects.

The children remain interested in time lapse photography as a result of the YouTube videos we have been watching during our inquiries. We have been exploring an app called 'Lapse It" and thought it would be fun to record our own time lapse sorting adventure. This video uses over 900 still shots taken over 40 minutes!


 After we sorted the objects the children helped us name each group to establish the sorting rule used - some objects were sorted by materials while others were sorted by use. What an interesting collection! The objects have now been added to various centres around our classroom and the children are already planning how to explore and create with them!

A BIG thank you to our wonderful families for your support and encouragement of our children and program!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Teacher Candidates

You might have noticed two new faces in our room this week!

"Hello parents and guardians, I'm Ms. Shi (pronounced 'she') and I will be working with Mrs. McLennan and Miss Jamrog in your child's classroom during May 20-30. I'm a concurrent ECE student from the University of Windsor. It's nice to meet you!"

QR Codes and Documentation

We have been experimenting with QR codes in our classroom, especially to help children access familiar songs and stories online. We also like to use the app Pic Collage to compile photos and other information about children as one of our documentation strategies. This week we tried combining the two - we have included a QR code on the Pic Collage so that when families receive a copy of this documentation they can scan the code and access additional information about the experience (e.g., a link to a blog entry, a YouTube video of children in action, a sound clip of a child discussing their work or experiences housed online). We are hoping that this helps families access additional information regarding their children and our program, and encourages our students to use technology like QR codes in innovative ways at home.

In addition to sending home a copy of our Pic Collage documentation, we like to keep a copy in subject specific binders around the classroom for the children to peruse during playtime. Now that QR codes are embedded in the collages, our children will also be able to access the additional information when using our class iPads! Here's a sample of the documentation:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Technology in School

Preparing children for lives in an unknown future is exciting! One way we do this is by embedding technology into our inquiry-based program in as frequent and meaningful a way as possible. This week alone our children:

  • used Apple TV to explore YouTube videos related to current inquiries
  • search Google and Google Images for nonfiction information about animals and nests
  • took their own photos on a nature walk using the camera technology on an iPad
  • played interactive alphabet games on the SmartBoard
  • found familiar digital songs and stories using QR code technology at our iPad listening centre
  • co-constructed many of this blog's entries together with me
  • participated in the collection and observation of hundreds of digital photos and videos
  • learned about time lapsed photography 
  • used the Internet to learn about a Grade 2 class in California who also raised Painted Lady Butterflies

A interesting article was just forwarded to me that I thought many of you might find interesting. "Six reasons why kids should know how to blog" can be accessed at this address:

Painted Lady Caterpillars

The timing of the arrival of our painted lady caterpillars couldn't have been more perfect!  Just as we are finishing up our best inquiry about birds and nests, another opportunity to study a life cycle arrives!

The children were so excited to get the box in the mail. We carefully removed the nine cups and examined the spiky caterpillars. 

During playtime the caterpillars were placed at the science center and the children were invited to observe them. Some were very active and squiggled about, others were quiet, and some spun a web-like material around themselves. We wondered if they were getting ready to spin their cocoon. We also had two iPads available with time elapsed videos of painted ladies emerging from their cocoons. One video was created by a grade two class in the United States that documented their exploration with caterpillars. Our children were amazed that other children could create such a thing!

Here is the link to the YouTube video for those of you who'd like to watch it at home with your children:   

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beautiful Stuff Project

Thank you for the support you have shown with our 'Beautiful Stuff' project! We are thrilled with the materials we have received so far and are excited to explore these materials with the children. Please send in all materials by Monday, May 26. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Meeting Farmer Bergen and his Chickens

We had a wonderful treat today!  Farmer Bergen visited us and brought his show chickens. This couldn't have been better timing as we are working on exploring birds and their nests and the children are very excited to learn about different kinds and where they live. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mapping our School

We have been attempting to integrate more technology in our classroom. An interest sparked by the children was the perfect opportunity today for using the ipads to enhance an activity.

We have a very unique school. As an Eco-certified building we have many features of our school that are interesting and educational (solar panels, mini wind turbine, rain water reclamation capabilities). Our children have been asking many questions lately so we invited them to think about the interesting features of our school and how they are organized. They decided collectively to draw a map to represent their ideas about our school.  

It didn't take long for the children to realize that this was a bigger job than anticipated. They forgot certain parts of the school on their map. After a few trips back and forth from the classroom to the hall they came to the conclusion that they needed a more permanent way of recording their observations. We suggested they use the iPads to take pictures of the school. 

The children have become quite proficient at using this technology. They are comfortable holding the ipad and using it in a safe manner and have much background information from which to draw when manipulating the touch screen and camera function.

Satisfied with their selection of photos, the children returned to the classroom where they used them to help draw a detailed and fairly to scale first draft map of the school. 

After reviewing their map and walking the halls with it in comparison to their surroundings, the children noticed some missing features. They decided to work on a second draft of the map. 

We ran out of time today and the children are planning on working on this again tomorrow. 

Stay tuned!
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