Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chicken a la Preschool

As you know, we have been incubating chicken eggs in our classroom. This blog post will provide you with a very exciting update, so keep reading!

Some time between eight PM Monday and seven AM Tuesday, something was stirring at Columbus
In the morning, I could
hear this faint, wild chirping as I walked into the classroom. I excitedly peered into the incubator and, lo and behold, there was one tiny beautiful chick calling out to the world! I dropped to my knees, fists raised towards the sky.... YESSS!!!!

After twenty-one agonizing days of incubation, our first chick broke on through to the other side, and I could breathe a sigh of relief. Its chirps were sirens for the other chicks, saying "C'mon, let's get this party started!! Look, there's food and water, and its 95 degrees!!"

Here you can see the look on a child's face when they see the moment a live chick hatches. This was a very beautiful moment for many reasons:

Below are more pictures of the chicks, including the children preparing the tank, where each chick was moved 24 hours after hatching. The video below (fourth image) captures that UNBELIEVABLE moment at the end of the hatch, which I waited patiently (at times) to see (stayed at school 'til 5pm one day..)

Two more chicks hatched on Tuesday, and one more on Wednesday; the remaining three eggs did not hatch. Sadly, Wednesday's chick did not survive, and we had a memorial service of sorts on Thursday morning. We explained to the children what had happened, and allowed them to view and touch the dead chick (latex gloves provided). None of the children seemed stressed out about the situation or cried, but all recognized that this was a sad event. They suggested ways that it might have died: the incubator was too hot or too cold, it jumped up inside the incubator and fell and hit its head, or someone came into the classroom at night and stabbed it a little bit with a sword.
The Pre-K class next door hatched 2 out of 7 chicks, so this year we had a combined 5
out of 14 survive. Other years have had higher success rates, but it appears that this was not a 'good year' for chicken eggs from the farm in Ossining, incubated at Columbus Preschool.

Below is another video of a different set of eggs hatching. Do these baby chicks look like ours do?

Check out this great chicken rescue game that you can play right here:

Rescue a Chicken Games with

The children also made some truly amazing artwork about the chicks, using their keen observational skills to make everything from ink-and-watercolor paintings to three-dimensional sculptures of the chicks concocted from tissue paper, pom poms, tape, and pipe cleaners; this idea came 100% from the creative minds of the children. Incredible!!

Here are a few links for you and your child to explore. They contain a wealth of information about the life cycle of a chicken, so be sure to investigate.

Life Cycle of a Chicken
Chickscope: Inside the Egg
PBS Animal Life Cycles
All About Chickens
Chickens for Kids and Teachers
Chicken Crafts

And just when I couldn't be any more impressed, along comes our first Litter-Less Lunch (Friday). Leading up to this milestone, we had many discussions about trash and recycling, and examined the children's typical lunch-packing habits. Much of our usual waste was comprised of juice boxes and ziploc baggies, and we talked about why
thermoses are better than juice boxes, and why tupperware is better than ziplocs. The results are below, Thursday's trash compared to Friday's, and I couldn't be more thrilled! We will continue to make a big stink (no pun intended) about the major reduction in waste, and from now on, every Friday is Litter-Less Lunch Day!! We did it!

Above, you can see examples of the children's Litter-Less Lunches. Great job, everyone!!
Since consumer habits are formed early on, we are thrilled to be talking about conservation with the children, and they have been getting very excited about it all. On Friday, we made our own paper with Radha, who brought in her paper-making kits. We used construction paper from our scrap bin during this was a multi-step process. First we had to rip up the paper into small bits, then blend it with water, pour it on the mesh screens, squeeze the water out, and finally let it dry. All the adults truly put a lot of effort in to making this activity fun for the children.. it was really cool!

We will continue the project on Monday, and hope to write 'green messages' on the paper to help children (and parents) always consider earth-friendly consumer choices.



For two years, I maintained this blog as weekly documentation for my preschool classroom. Instead of sending home a newsletter each week (which was wasteful and ineffective, since many newsletters were misplaced between the students’ classroom and their home), I decided to use a blog instead. This medium enabled me to include many photographs, videos, and links to share with the parents. I was able to develop the documentation in ways that the short format of a newsletter would not permit.

Soon after the blog was posted, I started receiving generous feedback from parents. They appreciated how in-depth the posts were, and how they were able to really see what their children were doing in the classroom. They said they would sit with their children at the computer and review the post together. This functioned as a great way to reinforce some of the topics and concepts covered in the classroom.

Parents also expressed to me how easily they could share the blog posts with other members of their family, since they could just send them the link to the site. Grandparents began to compliment the website as well, and although it occupied a lot of my own personal time, I felt it was worth it to continue posting on the site.

Although I no longer work at the same school and I no longer maintain the website, I am able to review the archives at my leisure when I need some good ideas for my current classroom, or even if I want to reminisce. My current school uses a traditional hand-out newsletter, but I have considered suggesting the blog idea to my current team.

Although the technology behind a blog is not really being used ‘in’ the classroom, I feel that as a technological tool, it has proven very worthwhile to use in connection with my students, families, and coworkers.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ooey Gooey Squishy Plop !

This week was filled with sticky, gooey, crumbly, mushy materials with which to play. We encouraged all of the campers to get their hands dirty and explore their senses, build something, or just enjoy the tactile experience!
Some of the materials included:
corn starch & water ("oobleck", kind of liquid and solid at the same time... try it at home!)
homemade playdoh (the campers made it themselves)
flour & water
sticky foam
instant snow (superabsorbent polymer, expands 100X original size when mixed with water)

Here is Janet's weekly science blurb:
"My intentions for these science projects was to get your children to not only stretch their vocabulary but also to start molding them into critical thinkers. Every Monday, the children in Drew's class amaze with me with the concepts they are able to grasp and with the conversations we have afterward. However, I have never been more proud of them then I have been today. The children are starting to relate what they are currently learning to things they have learned in the past. During our conversation about solids and liquids, the children were talking about H2O, which is something they learned about during Splish Splash week. Also, the actual experiment we did was very difficult. We made bouncing polymer balls. Everything was already measured for them in seperate cups. They had to listen to directions to know which cups to mix together and when to start stirring. They also needed to cover their hands with cornstarch, make the solid into a ball and keep rubbing it until it wasn't sticky any more. The children followed the directions really well! During the experiment, Enrique noticed that his bounces and he showed everyone. After the experiment, the children made hypotheses regarding what made the balls bounce.

Through this experiment, the children expanded their knowledge of liquids and bases. We touched very quickly on polymers. The children also experienced tactile sensory and fine motor developement. We made comparisons and observations."

Comments during our conversation about solids and liquids:
Bennett: Water turns to ice when it freezes.
Another word for water is H20.
Kosmo: Water feels like any other water.
Tommy: Ice is solid.

Comments during the experiment:
Tommy: I think it's flour.
Noah: It feels sticky.
Tommy: It feels like rubber.
Enrique: It is soft and sticky. It is a solid because it's gloopy. It bounces!
Lara: It feels like rubber,
Dylan: Its gooey.

Closing Discussion:
Why does it bounce? and Why did it all stick together?
Kosmo: Always paint is sticky.
Bennett: It's sticky because of the glue and the cornstarch. If we used warm water it wouldn't be sticky.
Dylan: Glue made it sticky.
Frankie: Glue makes it sticky. All of the stuff mixed together makes it bouncy.
Tommy: We used water and glue to make it sticky.
Riley: The white stuff made it bouncy.
Jake: It is bouncy because of the glue.
William: The water is a little bit dissolved, that's why it is sticky and bouncy.
Enrique: The water dissolves, that is why it is really sticky,
Noah: It is bouncy because of the water and cornstarch mixed.
Isabelle: Water and glue made it bounce with the cornstarch and the cornstarch made it bouncier.
Teddy: It is sticky because glue sticks on everything.
James: Paint and glue made it sticky. Water makes it dissolve.
Madeleine: It got bouncier and then it broke.

Check out these photos from our dance class on Thursday. We did the twist, the merengue, She Loves You, Jackson 5, and more.... we sure had a lot of fun moving our feet and bodies.

As I reported last week, the campers have been very productive in the block area. Every day during freeplay, it doesn't take long before the rug is filled with an assortment of structures, often overflowing into nearby areas. It's a great opportunity for teamwork, communication, spatial awareness, planning, motor skill development, and FUN!

Friday's weather was typical of this summer (schizophrenic sun and rain), but we were able to spend most of the morning having fun at the Wild West playground. When the rain clouds came suddenly around 11:30, we took shelter under the playground apparati, before heading back to camp for a pizza and ice cream party.

A bit of continuation from last week's theme, we examined fallen bark from Central Park and then used it to decorate for collages. The campers enj0yed drawing on the pieces and then affixing them to construction paper. Check them out on our bulletin board!

I love reading stories with the children, I really really do. However, every now and then I need a break! Fortunately, Noah was game for reading a story to the class ("A Good Day" by Kevin Henkes) and he did a great job!

Here are a few other photos from our fun-filled week.
Next week's theme: Get Your Groove On !

This is Drew, signing off!