Archive for August, 2011
Over the last 6 weeks we have been interested in colour and light. Throughout our investigation and exploration we have read lots of books about colour but there have been 3 books that have really impacted on our learning and these are One and Zero by Kathryn Otoshi and My Many Colored Days by Dr Seuss. All 3 books explore the power of colour and we have had many conversations together about how our feelings can be represented using colour. We have compared the way the books have used the same colour to represent different feelings and discussed which feeling we individually thought the colour represented.
Dr Suess’ book My Many Colored Days was the last of the 3 books we read. We found the contrast in illustrations between this book and the other 2 books interesting. This contrast was a provocation for further exploration of colour and light and we decided to paint some of the windows of the classroom in observe the effect of the light shining in through the colours.
The children began to slowly cover the windows with paint………
enjoying the effect of the light as it shone through.
They discovered that the amount of paint they applied affected the lights ability to shine through…….
The thicker the paint the stronger the colour
The children explored the effect of different brush strokes as well.
Slowly throughout these explorations and experimentations the windows were covered in paint.
Then we added another layer of texture using our patterned rollers……….
and white paint.
This experience was really good gross motor practice as well as we stretched up high and across especially when using the roller. We also used our dotted stamps to add to the effect.
We rolled and printed all over the paint enjoying the added dimension and textures and then the painting of the windows was finished.
The next day we sponge painted body shaped stencils onto paper using colours that showed our feelings. When these were dry we cut them out and added them to our coloured windows.
Our Many Coloured Day windows were finished.
We love our windows and the way the light shines through them!
We especially love the way our body shapes look like shadows.
We loved this entire process and are now going to paint our other windows and the door at the front of the classroom.
Mr Squiggle was an Australian icon when I was growing up. Every afternoon he would amaze his audience with his clever drawings based on squiggles. Today on the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB), I shared a Youtube video of Mr Squiggle with my preppies, many of whom had never seen or heard of this “funny puppet” with a “pencil for a nose.”
The children found the idea of creating drawings from squiggles an interesting concept particularly when, after drawing 1 idea, Mr. Squiggle would add some more lines to the drawing, his helper, (Miss Jane in this video) would turn the page around and suddenly the drawing was transformed into something new. “Hmmmmm that’s clever” said one of the children.
After watching the video again, I showed the children some squiggles on the IWB.
“I wonder what you could draw with these if you were Mr Squiggle?” I asked. Many of the children began to share their ideas but before we got too involved in this discussion I said ” why don’t you pretend to be Mr Squiggle and show me instead.” We had some fun discussing how they were going to attach a pencil to their nose but in the end decided to use their hands to hold the pens and draw.
To enhance their exploration of the contrast between black and white, we had covered the tables with black tablecloths and placed black pens of varying thicknesses and inks in glass jars. The white paper and black squiggles contrasted really well with the black on the tables and assisted the children to focus on, and explore their mark making.
As they drew, there were lots of conversations about their ideas and it was interesting to listen to them share and narrate what they were doing, just like Mr Squiggle.
I was struck by how different the drawings are and wondered…… how the children could think of such interesting ideas? Here are some of their finished drawings.
A bird in the sky.
I like to play.
An Electric Train
The letter M hiding in a box.
A towel on the sand at the beach.
A boy with dirty teeth.
Young children’s imagination is truely awesome!
This week we are exploring the contrast between black and white. We have been drawing on white paper with black pens of differing thicknesses and today the children were presented with an invitation to explore this contrast even further using play dough.
The table was covered with a black tablecloth and on it was placed laminated black and white cards with feathers, smooth glass beads, buttons and shapes and the playdough. Unfortunately the black food colouring we used, made the playdough grey, not black, but the children were still drawn to it as we had made grey paint the day before for another project.
It was interesting to observe the children exploring the colour contrast between the dough and the materials.
The photos with the black/grey playdough look they are black and white but are in fact colour.
They made patterns.
Some children made familiar things such as birds because of the feathers.
A bird and nest……
The back view of these birds.
Some of their other creations.
When I first reflected upon this experience, I was a little disappointed that I had offered the feathers because the children used them to make birds but after thinking about this some more, my intention was still successful. The children were very involved in using the contrasting black and white materials and whilst my planning was all about the process, I also had some preconceived ideas about the product which fortunately I did not try to impose upon them. This further reflection reminded me that the process was what was really important and …….. that there are a lot of black/grey and white birds in the world including the young magpie that regularly visits inside the classroom and that prior knowledge can be a powerful tool for learning.
Block construction is a popular everyday activity in our classroom and, whilst there are documented stages of development that children go through as they construct with blocks, sometimes I think they can get a bit “stuck” and need some support to move on in their thinking. An example of this occured when I had a group of children in my class who pushed blocks around the floor pretending they were cars, occassionally constructing a simple straight road for them to drive on.
Over several days I listened to and observed their play, noticing a strong interest in racing cars. Using this information, I added some numbers and stripes to a car and asked if I could join them in their game. They immediately noticed the numbers on my car and this provoked an interesting conversation about racing cars and tracks. From this discussion the children decided to construct their own racing track and using the Interactive Whiteboard we searched for information to support their ideas. The IWB is a really useful tool in these situations as it provides the children with opportunities to closely observe and discuss the images they find interesting. From the information found, they can synthesise, select, and print out the ideas that are the most useful to their play.
Using Higher Order Thinking and Critical Literacy skills to make decisions and enhance learning.
Armed with the information they needed, the children began their construction. Some of the children drew plans and built the racing track. As they built the track they also constructed the safety fence after noticing one in some of the images they found.
One of the children was very eager to construct the Pit Stop area – with little fuel tanks and hoses “for the mechanics to fill up the cars when they run out of petrol”.
He even built the opening from the track “so the cars can zoom in and get fixed.”
Other children were interested in the signs and flags they observed around the tracks and took on the role of making them.
The speed limit sign –
It was tricky getting the Finish Line banner to stay up.
All the children spent a lot of time making number signs for their cars. At first the signs fitted on the cars………
but then they equated the bigger the number with the faster the car and this is what happened………
Lots of numeral writing. There is a car hiding under all the signs but they didn’t last long because the cars didn’t fit on the track with them on.
The fire coming out of the exhaust.
An experimental car made out of collage and boxes.
The children were engaged in long periods of rich sustained play not just when constructing the racing track, but also when it was completed.
The purpose of this experience was to “move on” some of the children’s thinking when constructing with blocks. This project demonstrated they were ready and able to operate at a “higher” stage of construction development. It was only in later construction opportunities that their ability to apply their understandings independently would be known. Here is an example of another racing track built after this project. This was was built without support or scaffolding from an adult.
and the start of a road with an interesting bridge.
After this project the children’s block constructions continued to develop and evolve as they explored other ideas and structures.
Sometimes they just need a little help and support to “move on” .
As a Follow Up to this project we used stop watches to time cars as they raced down luge ramps (long pieces of PVC pipe sliced in half). The whole class had lots of fun experimenting with the angles to discover which was the fastest.
Fantastic, fabulous, friendly fun whilst practising our sound for the week.
Fairy Flour Cooking (Forgot to take a photo of the glitter in the flour)
Flying down the ramp!
The Firefighters Pole
Fancy Footwork with Friends
The children declared this Messy Monday the most fun. Have you guessed what sound we are learning this week?
Please meet our classroom friend, the Alphabet Monster. He is bright green, soft and fluffy, likes to hang around his basket in the classroom and teaches us about sounds.
Every week in Prep we focus on a sound. We listen for and explore words that contain the sound, and learn how to form the letter that represents the sound. We gather objects from home and school that begin with the sound and put them in the Alphabet Monster’s basket. We put pictures of things that begin with the sound, on the wall above where our monster friend likes to hang out on his basket.
All week we like to add things to his basket and build a collection of objects that begin with or contain the sound. Friday is the Alphabet Monster’s favourite day because he gets to reveal all the things inside his basket. We all sit in a circle and the special helper of the day helps the alphabet monster take the things out of his basket and display them in the middle of the circle. After an item is taken out we problem solve how to write the name of the item to create a label for the object. We discuss where in the word we can hear the sound and use a different colour to write the sound’s letter in the word.
Some sounds are more challenging than others for collecting a large group of objects and sometimes an object begins with the correct letter but not the correct sound. We discuss these differences and learn about new sounds and new ways to represent sounds. For example unicorn begins with u but does not begin with the short /u/ sound and giraffe begins with the /j/ sound but begins with g not j. Thanks goodness the alphabet monster is wise and can teach us about these tricky concepts.
After labeling all the objects, each child is given a divided peice of paper, selects an item, and takes it and the word to a table, copies the it onto their paper and draws a picture of the item.
The children record 4 items and words that contain the sound on their paper, highlighting the letters position in the word and glue this into their sound book. We also photograph the items to create a class sound book and record the text to assist us with the sound recognition.
When we have to achieve mandated outcomes particularly in literacy, anything that makes our learning engaging and fun has to be a welcome addition to the classroom and that is exactly why our Alphabet Monster is such a favourite (and not to mention wise) member of our class. Although……… he is usually a bit grumpy every Friday afternoon because his basket is empty and he has to wait until Monday morning to collect and look after items beginning with our new sound.