Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Best Week Ever?

I am not sure if this has been our best week ever, or if we have finally made it through the getting-to-know-you phase of the year. Regardless, we had a wonderful week together. It's about 8:00pm and I have a lot to say, so here we go!
Here is a fun little moment I captured (or may have had them reenact) while the class was waiting for me to pick them up from Spanish. 

We continued our study of Jack and the Beanstalk and the children succeeded in convincing me to assist them in transforming the loft into a castle in the clouds, complete with a dragon's cave. Here are a few photo's of the process.

I have a wonderful photo series of the class making their best dragon faces, but blogspot is picky about my photo placement so above are two of the best. Below are a few of the children explaining what was going on in the dragons cave.

We have been focusing on predicting, observing and learning about plants during our science lessons this week. All with a mini-magical twist. Last week the children made and planted their magic beans and predicted what (and when) they would grow into. Although a few of the beans are beginning to poke through the surface, none have yet shown their roots or stalk/stem. We were treated to a real live beanstalk on Tuesday when K.F's family found that a beanstalk magically appeared in their garden! The children worked to make and decorate a support structure for it and we are excited to see it grow. 
Yesterday the children planted Jellybeans in sugar and fed them with a sprinkle of glitter. I've posted their predictions on what they think the beans may grow into. If my predictions are correct they should turn into something by Friday morning!

The class continued to work together to solve compare problems (The giant's hand is __ blocks long. My hand is __ blocks long. How much longer is the giant's hand than mine?) Separate, Result Unknown problems (Jack's Beanstalk was __ feet tall. He chopped down __ feet. How many feet tall is Jack's Beanstalk now?) and Join, Change Unknown problems (Jack's Beanstalk was __ feet tall. Jack climbed up __ feet and had to rest. How many more feet does he need to climb to get to the top?). Below are a few video's of the children working together to solve some of these problems.

The children also used a giants hand to measure the room while estimating (and counting) how many cubes the could fit in it.

Reader's Workshop
During Reader's Workshop the children read Jenny and the Cornstalk and used a Venn diagram to compare the two stories (Jack vs. Jenny). The children also used words and pictures to describe Jenny's characteristics. We also checked to see whether or not Jenny and the Cornstalk had the elements necessary to be a fairy tale, and they did!

Writer's Workshop
During Writer's Workshop the children learned about the Oh-Ah-Oliver sound and created a very very very long word list of words that have the Oh-Ah-Oliver sound. My favorite was a picture of Oliver the Olive. The children are continuing to practice writing their lowercase letters and bumping the lines. As more and more lowercase letters are introduced they will be held accountable for using these letters in their writer's workshop writing jobs. 

Overall it has been a very busy, and really fun week. They children are so excited about the transformation of our loft area and this has been one of our main focuses this week. One morning the class got so involved in the process that the boys were taping black beards onto their chins while some of the girls were making crowns, rings, necklaces and earrings to wear. We have quite a creative and imaginative group! Here are some fun photos.
V.V. protected with his sheild

Beard? Check! Earrings? Check!

What a glamorous crew!

 Thanks again for another amazing week with your children!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fairy Tales in Full Swing

During our short week together the children and I turned our fairy tale focus towards Jack and the Beanstalk. The children and I read two versions of the classic fairy tale and discussed the choices Jack made throughout the tale. We began to record Jack's good and bad choices on a chart, but quickly had to add a "Not Sure" column because depending on each child's perspective, Jack's choices could have been both good and bad! We also began trying to identify the elements of a fairy tale. During our study we will be comparing one fairy tale to another and recording the various elements of each tale on the white board in our room.   On Tuesday we read a version of Jack and the Beanstalk that no one had ever even heard of before! In The Beanstalk Incident, the story of Jack and his Beanstalk is told through the perspective of the Giant. After reading the story the children used a Venn Diagram to compare the similarities and differences between the character traits of both Jack and the Giant. This, of course, raised some very rich discussions on whether or not Jack was nice or mean; bad or good; loyal or dishonest etc. 

The children's math stories this week were focused on compare and subtraction problems. They estimated how many beans could fit in their hand vs. the giants; stacked cubes to make a beanstalk and recorded how high they could stack and played Race To The Top, a game I should have called Race to the Bottom because none of the characters ever race to the top! In Race To The Top the children worked individually or with a partner to race their characters to the top. Using a die, the children rolled, recorded and graphed the amount of spaces each character could move up the vine.

What's Emerging
The children made their own magic beans, planted them and predicted what would grow. Next week we will have fun predicting what will grow if we plant a jelly bean and other random objects. After Spanish the children worked together as a whole group to create their very own magic beanstalk. Once the green glitter creation was complete there was a special request for a castle in the clouds!

I have a mini-update from Humble Hearts in Africa! Irene (the kindergarten teacher) emailed me and said the children have written letters for our class and she will be sending them soon! They loved the cards and photos of our class and Irene said that the children "treasure the smiles of the pupils". Ida McManus (the woman in Texas who brought our supplies) has photos of the children receiving the supplies and will be sending them soon. I will be sure to post everything as soon as it arrives.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

From Fall to Fairy Tales

With Big Pumpkin, a late blog post & conferences I have to say there is not much to report from Kindergarten Room 5 this week! Here is what we have done for the past 2 days and a sneak peek on what is coming up :)

This week we began our...... Fairy Tale unit of study!! We read The Fairy Tale News and the children wrote down all of the fairy tales they knew (or had the energy to draw). The following day we read The Frog Prince Continued and the children wrote down all of the fairy tale characters they knew, as well as what they thought a fairy tale was. Below are the responses from the class when I asked them the question "What is a fairy tale?"
P.R.: "A fairy tale ends with Happily Ever After and starts with Once Upon a Time."
J.C.: A fairy tale is "a not real story that is made up."
S.Y.: A fairy tale is "Cinderella because Cinderella is beautiful."
J.B.: "Gingerbread Man is a fairy tale because he is made out of gingerbread and he is talking and running; and cookies cannot do that in real life."
N.H.: "The 3 Little Pigs is a fairy tale because pigs can't talk in real life. They just say 'oink, oink, oink.'"
M.B.: "The 3 Little Pigs is a fairy tale because my mom told me. They (fairy tales) always start with Once Upon A Time."
A.K.: "A fairy tale is a story that is really good, with something bad that happens, then people help each other."
E.L.: "A fairy tale is a story that is pretend."
K.F.: "A fairy tale is a story about animals that play together."
R.L.: "A fairy tale is something that starts with Once Upon A Time and ends with Happily Ever After."
S.P.: "Humpty Dumpty is a fairy tale because it is kind of like a Disney character and Disney characters are like fairy tales."
M.C.: "A fairy tale is something that a lot of the time has princesses and princes."

Based upon their responses, it looks like one of the questions we will be trying to answer through out our study is "What is a fairy tale?" We will likely create our own definition and then determine whether or not some of the stories we read are actually fairy tales!
Next week we are going to focus on Jack and The Beanstalk while reading different versions of the classic tale as well as the story through the eyes of the giant.
Here are some of the monsters I captured through out the past few days. My apologies for losing the post-it note that had the names of which child made which monster. Maybe your child can identify their own?