A place to share ideas about play in a Prep classroom

Archive for the ‘Thinking’ 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.

Our Tinkering Table

Throughout the year I have been fascinated to observe the intensity of thought that some of my preppies have put into their block constructions. One child in particular, carefully selects and considers the placement of each and every block he uses. His constructions and their exploration of balance, shape and complexity are astonishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late last term he brought in some metal nuts, bolts and springs he had collected from the site where a bus had been repaired after breaking down. He asked if he could look at them on the light box and experimented with putting them together in interesting shapes and patterns. It was only whilst discussing these loose parts with him, and listening to his thinking about where they might have belonged on the bus, that I realised he was interested in, not just how things were constructed but also how they could be deconstructed and so our Tinkering Table was born!

I had seen a post on the wonderful blog Irresistable Ideas for Play Based about just such a table and immediately looked for a place in the classroom to add our own version of it. For now we are using the water trough because it stops the different parts and paraphernalia from falling to the floor but with summer fast approaching I will soon need to find an alternative.  

Our sound for the week was /v/ and so it seemed appropriate that the first object we should deconstruct was a vacuum cleaner. We added a set of screw drivers and waited to see what would happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first the children explored the vacuum cleaner as a whole, opening and closing all the different compartments. They were excited to discover the cord could still be pulled out and retracted. An action they repeated over and over again. I was interested to observe that it was only after I posed the question “I wonder how that works?” that some of the children, including the child who had collected the nuts and bolts from the bus, chose to begin using the screw drivers and try to open it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once they got started, the children demonstrated great persistence and concentration as they used the screw drivers and there was lots of celebrating when the first screw was finally undone. One down……… many, many more to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mathematical understandings were enhanced as the children matched the size and type of screw driver required to the screws, learning during the process, the difference between flat headed and phillips head screws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As one part was opened up another problem would arise, as the children worked together to think through what needed to be undone next. They discovered that there was a system to deconstruction, just as there is a method to construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children have also discovered that deconstruction is not a quick process but when another part have been released from the screws holding it together, they are another step closer to finding out how it all works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 2 weeks of hard work the children have finally gotten through to the section of the vacuum that contains the motor and we are all really looking forward to this next stage of deconstruction.

Who would have thought that a simple everyday vacuum cleaner, a machine that can be found in almost every home would become such a long term and interesting project? Certainly not me….. but from now on I think that, just as construction with blocks and other materials is an everyday activity in our classroom, so too will be deconstruction at our very own Tinkering Table.

 

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.

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.

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.