A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Imagining and Responding’ Category

The Little Mouse,The Red Ripe Strawberry and the BIG Hungry Bear

In Prep we read lots of stories. Every week I choose a story to really explore indepth with the children, focussing on current literacy and oral language outcomes. This week’s book is one of my all time favourites. Written and illustrated by Don and Audrey Wood, The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear presents us with lots of opportunities to explore some interesting text concepts and challenge our comprehension skills as we search for answers to questions that may be found “in the book” or “in my head”. Concepts we are currently learning in our QAR program.










To extend this learning a little further I have placed a strawberry plant, some facts about strawberries, 2 magnifying glasses and the book on a low table in book area.













Today was probably our fourth reading of the book , and afterwards we looked at and discussed the strawberry plant, matching illustrations to plant observations. The children were very interested in how the flower transforms into a strawberry and as our plant is in various stages of fruiting, they were able to explore this process first hand. They were able to observe the yellow flower centres













and what happens as the petals fall off the flowers and the centre grows and changes colour to become a strawberry.










Reading our Strawberry Fact poster 










and hanging strawberry shapes which, thanks to the wind today, entwined themselves just like on a real vine.













We discovered that strawberries are the only fruit with their seeds on the outside. Naturally we had to use the magnifying glasses and the digital microscope to investigate this fact and sure enough we could see the seeds quite clearly.










It was a bit too tricky to count the seeds but our fact sheet told us there are usually approx. 200 seeds on each strawberry. Perhaps we’ll try counting them again tomorrow.

This wonderful book also provides lots of opportunities to pose questions to challenge our thinking and problem solving skills including –

  • If you were the mouse how would you pick the strawberry?
  • How would you disguise the strawberry?
  • What would you do to protect the strawberry?
  • What would you do if the big hungry bear found the strawberry?  (This question could lead to lots of philosophical discussions about sharing .)

All of which we will explore using a variety of mediums as the week progresses. Other planned experiences include-

  • cutting trawberries in half and investigating the inner part of the fruit, along with lots of tasting.
  • using observation skills to draw and record the shape of the leaves, the various stages of fruiting and the runners with their roots and shoots.
  • planting the runners to propogate more plants

We will also be watching the story’s Youtube video with text , stopping on the pages with questions and problem solving where we will find the answers to the questions ie. “In the Book” or “In my head.” This story is a great text for finding answers to  “in my Head” questions due to the narrator being the person reading the story. A different perspective for a children’s book. Love it!!


Purple Snow

Today was one of those days when I stopped and thought “this is why I love my job.” As the children came into the clasroom this morning, one of my preppies presented me with some jacaranda blooms off her tree at home. After roses, jacaranda’s are my favourite and I told my little friend that today, in honour of her gift, we would read the book “Purple Snow” by Eric Lobbecke.










This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a cockatoo who, whilst visiting the North Pole, compares the white snow on the ground to the purple carpet at home, created by the  jacaranda blooms falling to the ground from the trees.










After reading the book, we discussed the jacaranda trees in the children’s gardens and our school grounds and I told the children that one of my favourite things to do when I was a little girl was to thread the fallen flowers onto the fine twigs that also fell from the trees as the flowers were spent. To my surprise, none of the children had ever done this before, so taking the opportunity to share this childhood memory with my preppies, we went outside and looked for the nearest jacaranda tree. Unfortunately this tree was near a busy pathway and playground which meant many of the blooms had been trodden on but the children were so eager to participate in this experience that they searched really carefully for suitable flowers










and threaded them onto their twigs.










The children enjoyed exploring the different effects that were created as they threaded the flowers onto the twigs. Some were thin, some were thick and some were in a pattern.









We were disappointed that, because of the busy nature of where this tree was situated, we couldn’t see the purple snow/carpet effect. Some of the children said there were jacaranda trees on the edge of the oval and we should look there.










To our delight, from across the oval we saw purple snow and the children rushed across to get a closer look.













By the time I had caught up with them they were already settled on the grass under the trees threading flower twigs.










It was at this time that I paused and took in the scene……..







All of my wonderful 5 and 6 year olds










enjoying the simpler pleasures of life.














As well as threading we spent some time on our backs, lying on the grass looking up into the jacaranda trees. When a breeze blew, some of the blooms would fall gently from their branches, just like falling snow. The children demonstrated quiet patience as they waited for purple snow to land on, or near them.










Sadly, with the lunch bell about to ring it was time to return to our classroom. As we began to walk back across the oval the children noticed all the patches of clover in bloom and embraced the opportunity for some more simple childhood fun with a game of “what does this remind you of? ”  If you use your imagination this clover patch looks like a map of Australia!










In another game the children made up and with rules known only to them, they had fun jumping from one clover patch to another.









When we finally got back to the classroom and the children tenderly placed their threadings either on a table or in the vase with my original gift, I overheard them sharing our adventures with our Intern, a new Early Childhood Educator. As I listened to their happy chatter, I was reminded of one of the many reasons why our chosen profession is so joyful and rewarding…… the opportunity to not only relive childhood memories but to create them as well.

V is for Vortex

Our sound for this week is /v/ and our Did You Know……… Interesting Fact for the week is about vortices.










Every Monday morning we discuss our Did You Know……. fact and I usually show a video about the subject as well on the Interactive Whiteboard. This weeks video was from SincScience#08 and is called The Beauty of the Vortex. In the video the children are shown how a vortex is created using a spinning motion. The children used their prior knowledge to relate this back to how water goes down a plug hole and when they heard the water gurgling began to use the Jolly Phonics action for the sound /g/, which is also a spinning action. They made comments such as “it’s like a tornedo” and “I can see a whirlpool”. They were fascinated by the images taken by a camera as it moved up and down inside the vortex and we discussed why there was no water on the camera lens even though it was in water.

I love the way science engages children in thinking, problem solving and oral language  and can be related back to their everyday lives. Here is the link to  the YouTube video –  http://youtu.be/GkbMJSeI25Q.

The video clearly shows how a votex is created by a spinning motion and we explored this further using our ribbons.













The children experimented with spinning and twirling the ribbons quickly and slowly and how the speed effects the spiral shape and effect.










The rainbow pattern of the ribbons created  similar images to the ones seen in the vortex video.










During Play Time  several bottles of coloured water, joined at the neck with a connector, were available for the children to shake and spin to create a vortex inside a bottle.













This activitiy was also a great opportunity to use their upper body and hand muscles as the children shook the bottles.






They were very interested in the waterfall effect created in the lower bottle.













The children also tried looking down the inner part of the vortex just like in the video and even though this was unsuccessful, the conversations about why, were thought provoking and required lots of thinking and problem solving.













Some children recorded their observations of the vortex.










Their interest in spirals and concentric circles was further explored and exhanced as they created and used them in other areas of the classroom including the overhead projector.











Concentric circles……











Loose parts.




















and drawing.










This drawing was also provoked through our exploration of the abstract work of Kandinsky, whose art was displayed and observed in the classroom and on the IWB.










I’ll write about this in another post.

From phonics to……. science to…….. loose parts to……. art……… it’s all part of the learning in a Prep classroom.

Wordless Wednesday 5th September 2011

An invitation to explore and create.

Wordless Wednesday

28th September 2011

Warm and Cool Colours

One of our favourite books is One by Kathryn Otoshi and it explores the connection between colours and feelings. This provoked a conversation about colours being warm and cool and we decided to explore this further.










First we looked at cool colours because blue was the first colour we met in the book, One. We looked at and discussed art images using blues and  greens. We talked about the difference in shades and how they effected the feeling of the images. We also talked about the lines that could represent ice breaking and what these might look like.

One of the pictures we observed carefully was this one by Picasso.






We explored his inclusion of yellow and red/brown in the painting and how it effected the feel of the painting and compared it with this very different picture that exclusively used blues and purples.







When it came time to create our own cool colour drawing, we used our observations for ideas. The children decided that “sharp”, “pointy” and “zigzag” lines would be best and drew 3 of each from the top to the bottom of the page. Next they turned their page around by 1/4 and drew another 3 lines from 1 side to another. The children then filled in the shapes they had created on the page using various shades of blue and green.










Once all the shapes were filled with colour, a white oil pastel was used to outline them with some children drawing zigzag lines in white over the top as well.









We used the same process when exploring warm colours. Here is one of the images we observed.










We also discussed what a fire looks like and the kind of lines that are created by flames and heat. The children decided that they would like to represent warm colours using “wavy” lines and this is the kind of lines they drew across their page from 1 side to the other. Just like with the cool colour drawing except “wavy not spikey”.









Once again the children chose the colours, selecting shades of red, yellow, orange and brown “just like in a fire”.










When complete some children chose to outline their warm shapes in a warm colour and highlight them using wavy lines.









Unfortunately I don’t have a photo to show you but when placed together the cool and warm effects were quite spectacular, with every image different yet belonging, a bit like the individual colours in the book. 









Our warm and cool colour investigation was an interesting part of a larger one on colour and light. Whilst these activities seem prescriptive, their purpose was about the process of representing their observations and thinking. The knowledge and understandings they gained through these particular activities have been demonstrated over and over again as the children comment on the colours used in other media including book illustrations and videos. They have also transferred these understandings into their own art, using them imgainatively and creatively.

Arrrrrrrgh …….there be pirate stories to be told!

There’s been a lot of buzz about story stones on the blogosphere over the last few months and now that it is school holidays, I have finally been able to make some of my own.

It was recently Talk Like a Pirate Day and in honour of that day I thought I would make some story stones around the pirate theme.










Last school holidays I had made some alphabet, counting and sight word stones and still had plenty of left over rocks.I purchased some acid free stickers with pirate images on them and stuck them on the rocks. I painted 2 coats of PVA glue over the top. This glue dries clear and seals the stickers onto the stones.










The sticker pictures came in different sizes, adding mathematical language to the stories as well.










To store the stones I cut a square of red ticking fabric which can also act as a mat for telling the stories.













When finished, the children can bundle up the stones inside the fabric and using some thick cord, made into a loop, secure them inside ready for next time.













On the other side of the fabric, a treasure map could be drawn to add to the story telling. To stimulate dramatic play I have added some golden beads to the pirate bundle.

I’m now going to make some more generic story stones using other stickers I’ve collected.

Here are the links to my other posts about the sight word and alphabet stones.