A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Investigating the Natural Environment’ Category

Observational Drawing of Strawberries- A Sensory Experience

Strawberry is the flavour of the week as we explore The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. This afternoon we spent some time using all our senses to observe some fresh strawberries, their leaves and seeds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each child was given a strawberry of their own to observe, feel, smell and draw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They approached the drawing of their strawberry in their own unique way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some children chose to hold the strawberry as they drew, feeling the texture of the seeds and drawing the indents. Other children thoughtfully selected which aspect or side they wanted to draw and placed the strawberry accordingly on the table. This child noted the bend “like a banana” in his strawberry and decided to draw it from this perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children’s use of  drawing as a language demonstrated the depth of their observational skills far more accurately than if they were to describe their strawberry using words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After drawing the outside of their strawberry, the children cut it in half………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and drew the inside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In his drawing J. has really captured the bumps he felt on his strawberry when it was whole and ……. cut.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smell of the strawberries was very inviting and tomorrow we are going to make some strawberry scented playdough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they had drawn this view of their strawberry, the children were finally able to explore it with their final sense – taste. The 2 children who said they didn’t like strawberries prior to drawing them, thought they would like to taste their 2 halves. After tasting/eating their berry, the children selected another one to draw. This time we cut the strawberry in half the opposite way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This perspective was interesting to observe and draw as the centre of the strawberry looked like “rings of yumminess”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That were irresistable to everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum!!!!!! YUM!!!!! I think we had lots of hungry bears today who love red ripe strawberries!

Advertisements

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.

Our Calendar

This term I have implemented a calendar time into our classroom routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This time as an opportunity to incorporate lots of literacy and numeracy learning into our daily routine. We begin with the name of the day and the date, which the children write into their calendar journal. I use this part of the routine to practice their letter and numeral formation. For the first week the children wrote over dotted lines to give them a size guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have also learnt the “secret code” for writing the date eg. 3.10.11 is the third of October 2011. We enhance understandings of yesterday and tomorrow, which are time concepts young children often find difficult to grasp by moving the days up this chart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We often sing our favourite Days of the Week song to help us remember which day will come next. The song is sung to the Adams Family theme song. Here is a link to a version of it on Youtube http://youtu.be/OPzIbbvoiMA 

During the year we have used graphs to record data about lots of topics such as our pets and favourite vegetables. To further enhance our graphing knowledge and understandings, we are recording the weather on a monthly basis using a graph. This graph is in the children’s journal as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also chart the weather on a weekly basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The graphics for these charts were from a free web site called Pete’s Power Point Station.

After the weather, we record the number of days we have been at school. This is a great opportunity to practice counting, numeral recognition and numeral formation. The children record this number in a variety of ways each day.

On this page they write the numerals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the next page, the children are exploring the concept of Tally Marks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are also using concrete objects to explore groups of ten as we count the number of days at school. Every day we place a paddle pop stick in the ones cup. When we have ten we will bundle them up and move them into the tens cup. This activity is a real life way of learning about how we record and write numerals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final numeracy activity for Calendar Time is counting how many children are in class that day. All the girls/boys stand up and when counted (by tapping them on the shoulder) they sit down again. This number is recorded and the process is repeated for the other girls/boys. We also discuss how many children are absent. The children problem solve how many children are present in total based on all this information and then everyone stands up and is counted to determine the actual number present.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final literacy activity is to review our Sight Words for the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each day I write them in the talking bubbles, with the children copying them into their journal on the Sight Word page. As I form each letter in the words, I use our Casey Caterpillar Handwriting language to assist the children with forming their letters correctly. This activity enhances both handwriting and sight word recognition.

When we first began Calendar Time it would take us approximately 30 – 45 minutes, which, despite all the learning opportunities is a long time out of our day but,  each day we have gotten a little quicker and can now complete the whole activity in approx. 15 minutes. The children really love filling out their journal and, during the first week, lots of parents asked about Calendar Time because the children were coming home everyday telling them about it.

Calendar Time is quite a formal activity in our classroom and I am surprised at just how much the children enjoy this daily experience. Sometimes I wonder if  it is because it is a real life experience or they like owning and completing a “real school type” book or if it is a sign of their readiness to move onto Year One. Perhaps it is a combination of all three?  Whatever the reason, it has proven a valuable and engaging way of incorporating literacy and numeracy into our play based curriculum along with teaching the children the valuable “learning to learn” skill of how to organise themselves and find the correct work page in a book.

Sorting and Patterning in the Edible Garden

Once a week our preppies enjoy a lesson in the school’s edible garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of our garden lessons involve assisting with the maintanence and care of the garden, learning about the different plants through sensory exploration and learning about food production from the garden to the table. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At other times the children use what they have found and collected for art and other learning activities including sorting and patterning. Here is one of the children’s A B patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another example……. using leaves and bean pods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeds and leaves………

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some patterns are quite complex…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ready availability of natural materials in the edible garden, provides the children with endless opportunities for sorting and patterning, using all their senses in the process.

 

From Garden to the Table: Cooking in the Edible Garden

Every week my children spend time in the school’s edible garden, tending the plants, watering and planting. They love it! This week they learnt about another stage in food production, when they had the opportunity to pick some of the produce and use it to make their very own herb and salad pizzas in the garden’s outdoor kitchen

Armed with a bowl to hold their pickings, the children went into the garden to collect their herbs and salad greens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their familiarity with the garden and it’s plants was evident as they wandered the pathways identifying the various herbs, lettuces and vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They played guessing games with their friends using their different senses to identify a variety of herbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our wonderful parent helpers were surprised by the children’s knowledge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When they had finished harvesting the children returned to the gazebo to discuss their produce and wash it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After washing their harvest, the children began to spread the tomato paste, made from the tomatoes grown in the garden, onto fresh pizzza dough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some children added their herbs before cooking their pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other children decided to wait until after their pizza was cooked and just added the cheese.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When ready for cooking, the children took their pizzas to the wood fired oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst the pizzas were cooking we washed up and set the table.

 

    Adding produce to the cooked pizzas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now all that was left to do was eat the pizzas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From this………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to this………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and all the wonderful learning opportunities in between, including setting the table, composting the scraps and washing up, provided the children with a real life experience in growing, harvesting and cooking their own food.