A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Literacy’ 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!

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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!!

 

Sight Word Graphing

By the end of the year our preppies are required to know approx. 40 sight words and we have been working steadily towards achieving this outcome through play and the manipulation of  lots of concrete materials including our Sight Word Stones. We also have our sight words on Duplo bricks which the children can stack, sort and put together to make sentences and phrases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently, one of our favourite activities is Sight Word Graphing using these blocks. This activity involves the children  in selecting a block from the Lucky Dip box, reading the word and recording it on a graph. If the children select a block with a sight word they have already read and recorded, this block is stacked on top of the first, creating a block graph to match their paper one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To make the blocks, I print out the words five times on labels and stick them to the side of the bricks/blocks. The random selection of the words using the Lucky Dip Box provides the children with the opportunity to explore and graph a variety of words. Some children may have 5 words on their graph and others up to 10, depending on what they draw out of the box. This creates lots of opportunities for numeracy discussions whilst the children compare and discuss their individual graphs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a sample of the Lucky Dip graph.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as graphing the duplo blocks the children really enjoy graphing the results of a sight word hunt. On this sheet the children circle the same words in the same colour and fill in the graph accordingly. I like to use different fonts for this to provide opportunities for recognition of the sight word in differing forms and sizes to our beginners alphabet. I wonder if their enthusiasm for these activities is because the graphing provides them with a real life opportunity to use their numeracy understandings to record what they know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love to be able to provide opportunities to combine  literacy and numeracy learning together, especially when the children eagerly participate in the activity as well. Sight Word Graphing seems to be one of those opportunities.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

I Spy Sight Word Bottles

By the end of the year my preppies need to know 50 sight words. Here is one of the fun ways we revise the words that have already been taught……. I Spy Sight Word bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I printed off and laminated the words according to what colour list they are from and put them in a plastic bottle filled to approx. 1/3 with rice. After the words are inside I topped off the bottle to approx.2/3 with more rice. This leaves enough room for the children to shake the bottles to find their words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the games we have played with them include I Spy where 1 child finds and names a word and the others find the word in their bottle and Bingo. In this game they have a bingo type card and need to write down the words they see . The first child to fill all the spaces on their card is the winner.

I first saw this idea on  Tunstalls Teaching Tidbits where she has lots of fabulous ideas for uses for discovery bottles. Here is the link.

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Ftunstalltimes.blogspot.com%2F2011%2F07%2Fdiscovery-bottles.html&h=IAQANDIbGAQA5yP_8YHSxgUuspQpz27L9ni037HkRpKIVyw

When I make the next set of bottles with words inside, I will make sure I print the word on both sides of the paper as this will make it easier for the children as they shake, turn and  the move the rice around inside the bottle.