The (hyperlapse style) video below captures the JK friends visiting the SK Café and being served by SK children. SK decided it was best to divide the JK friends into two groups for two reasons; they only had enough seats at the table for five and it would "get a little crazy" if the whole class came in at once. See for yourself how it all went. Every time I watch this thing I see something different!
Last week, I talked about the growing sense of community in our classroom. There are a number of other events with our JK friends that have helped build our sense of school community as well. Morning meeting is one such event that helps us, as JK and SK classes, prepare for the day ahead. Each morning, after completing our SK morning routine, we walk to the JK classroom for a community time where we play games, sing songs, and build social skills with our JK friends. And lately, we have been inviting our JK friends into the SK classroom for more shared learning opportunities. Below are a couple pictures that highlight some of these experiences. One is story time. After outdoor play, SK and JK have been gathering together in the SK classroom to participate in a read aloud story together. This is a great chance to build literacy skills like comprehension, vocabulary development, and making connections.
Which leads us to this week's video. A week or so ago at morning meeting, we played/chanted a little ditty called "Button Factory." Then, we found a container of buttons on the TinkerLab supply shelf that looked interesting so we brought it into the classroom. After seeing this jar of buttons, it seemed only natural (to me, anyway) that these buttons could be sorted so I grabbed a couple egg cartons and put them on a classroom table. To be clear, I did not give any specific direction, just simply put the egg cartons on a table in the classroom next to the jar of buttons as a kind of provocation. A day or two later, one of the kids brought in a book that had ideas for making all kinds of stuff but one thing, a game called Awalé, caught the attention of a couple children. The directions suggested using some kind of game "pieces" (like seeds or beans) in an egg carton. Put all of these factors together and the next thing you know, we have a "button factory" in the classroom where children are sorting buttons into the egg cartons, based on their individual characteristics. After the sorting was complete, we had all the right pieces to assemble a new game for us to play during classroom Number Play. The "Button Factory" consumed almost an entire day of explorations and number play. It was fascinating to see how the idea of a button factory permeated all classroom activities for the day. And now we have a new game to play! The excitement of the button factory had a lasting impact on our class so we decided to share our button factory and game at all-school meeting.
For more information on things happening in the JK classroom, including some of the shared time with morning meeting, Spanish language development, and outdoor play, check out the Bennett Day JK Blog!
As classroom explorations continue, play and creativity are running rampant. Through play students have been transforming objects into just about anything they can imagine. Play is a powerful way for children to become familiar with new materials and is also a natural way for a teacher to engage thinking, introduce concepts, and develop appropriate skill sets. Below is a video that highlights this kind of learning experience as I introduced pattern blocks to the class.
Pattern blocks were introduced because the children were having a conversation about the need for a table and chairs in the "dramatic play" area. I asked if they wanted to make a table, to which they responded with a resounding yes. We started talking about tables and how they are constructed. We flipped over a table in the classroom to examine its parts, get some ideas, and deepen our understanding of the structural components in preparation for our project. As we talked about our plan for a table, it was suggested that we decorate it. I asked what kind of decorations and someone suggested patterns. So, pattern blocks were introduced and played with in preparation for table decoration. And yes, we are actually going to make a table. You can get a peek at some of the materials and process in the slideshow below.
Another aspect of play in the classroom involves numbers and card games. We began "number play" this week. Similar to "word play", this is a time where children experience and "play" with numbers. This week, I have been using a standard deck of playing cards and a deck of "Uno" game cards. Our class has been learning how to play together while developing mathematical concepts like counting, ordinal numbers, sequencing, and patterns. I have also used the cards to visualize number patterns and develop algebraic thinking through identification of missing numbers in sequences. (ex. 1, 2, 3, _ , 5, 6) Ask your child about the games we've been playing. You might even want to try playing them at home!
We're only on the third day and already its seems so much is happening! We've had a number of great experiences during the day that I want to highlight, so for this post I am going to overview some of our main daily activities and focus on a material introduction and a longer investigation possibility.
During classroom exploration the last couple days, two major developments happened. A question arose while working with an individual student: What can we make out of a box? This seemed to ignite an interested response from other students so I announced to the class that we were about to have a brainstorm! After helping them break down and define the word, we launched into a fury of ideas and suggestions. Some ideas included a printer, typewriter, rocket ship, house, bathtub (waterproof it), shapes, book, blocks, bricks (for building), refrigerator, freezer, shelf, car, wheels, disco ball, easel, watering can.
A day later, we revisited the box discussion and one of the children wanted to use some wire to create with their box. This prompted the class's interest in wire, so I introduced our kids to wire. They played with the characteristics; ability to be straight, curved, wound around objects, etc. As with the introduction of any material, there is a necessary time for children to play with new materials, so that's what they did, PLAY!
With the curiosity about things we can make with a box, and the introduction of wire, it's exciting to see where our explorations lead next! I have a feeling that if the box question continues circulating, we will be engaging in a longer term investigation and project.
This site was created by Colin Reynolds as the SK Lead Teacher for the 2014-2015 school year. Stephanie Holdridge was the apprentice teacher for the academic year.. You can contact me via e-mail or follow me on Twitter.