Saturday, October 27, 2007

Autumn Artists

I just happened to notice that all of these posts (except the first one) have titles beginning with the letter 'A,' so I am attempting to continue this, for whatever reason, until I simply cannot think of any more 'A' words.

In case you have not been able to come in to see our absolutely beautiful fall collages, here are some photos. They were created entirely by the children; they chose the materials, they brought in the objects to glue down, and they put them together. I think they are a great example collaboration and creativity, and they certainly add to the decor of the classroom:

At the easels, we have been using fall colors to make beautiful paintings, also. They will be on display throughout the classroom, for the next several weeks.

On Wednesday, we had a visit from storyteller Rebecca Kelly, who in an instant transformed us all into birds and took us on a remarkable journey through story. This was storytelling at its best, and the entire class was truly enthusiastic about the adventure. We hope to have her back again very soon! Here are pictures of the raven, and the children nesting and flying!

We also received our first weekly visit from Marta, whom many of us remember from last year. We played hand games to help us remember some of our new vocabulary words, including names of colors (red/ and how to say "my name is..." (me llamo...).

On Thursday, for professional development, I went with Kate, Amanda, and Marcia to the Brick Church School on the Upper East Side. After reading an article in the Times about this school, I decided it would appropriate to visit. Brick Church is influenced by the Reggio Emilia approach to education. This philosophy emphasizes the role that children must play in their own education, through emergent curriculum, and favors open-ended materials to encourage creative thinking. It was a great experience for us, giving us some great new ideas and new perspectives on our own classroom.

Reminder: Parent-Teacher Conferences are November 8 - 9. . .
Hope you all enjoyed your soggy/sunny weekends!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Attack Of The Nuudles: Part 1

Out of nowhere, these inch-high creatures swarmed our room like locusts! Fortunately, we discovered their greatest weakness: water! This caused the Nuudles to stick to surfaces (even each other), rendering them immobile and harmless. We were then able to use them to make awesome sculptures:

Nuudles are the psychedelic cousins of packing peanuts. They are made from corn starch (or sorghum) so they are non-toxic and (technically) edible, if you are that curious. In the 70's, they were made from polystyrene, but I guess enough people complained about their inedible nature... ahh the 70's... So save your packing peanuts for crafts at home, or bring them to school!

This week, we began our cooperative math workshop with Shannon's class. Working with half of the Pre-K students, we used materials including Unifix Cubes, Pattern Blocks, and Cuisenaire Rods, which help develop math skills like pattern recognition and counting concepts. The workshop was both exciting and educational for everyone, and we can't wait until our next one (Tuesday)!

And then, just in time for the letter 'P' came our Pancake Party !! Bryce and his mom helped us all measure, stir, pour, and EAT! They were just as colorful as the Nuudles!

Many of us were excited to see our old friend Shi
rley come in for a surprise music class! Borrowing a page from the book of Todd Rundgren, she taught us how to 'bang on the drum all day!' We certainly have some rhythmically-inclined children in our class. Drum circle, anyone??

And as the leaves begin to change outside, so does the decor in our classroom- you will start to notice a lot of fall-themed children's work on our walls this week. Last week, during our 'Fall Brainstorm,' we talked about the colors of autumn, and have been using those colors to make paintings and collages as brilliant as autumn itself. Thanks to everyone for bringing in leaves, nuts, etc. for our collages- I think they look amazing!

Also, Spanish class begins this week, for real. Marta will be coming in on Wednesday, and we will now have dance with Adelaida on Thursdays instead. It sounds like Dora and Diego have given us all a great head start!

Finally, as you may have noticed, our Sea Monkey/Brine Shrimp experiment was about as successful as New Coke. I am considering other options to bring some animal life into the classroom. I have a feeling it will end up being more squirmy/slithery than furry/cuddly, but let's wait and see!

Hope you enjoyed your weekends....

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Aah, Fall...

Cool air, crispy leaves, daylight savings... fall is quite a wonderful season. Doesn't it all make you feel like dancing? Specifically, the waltz?

This reminds me of the documen
tary 'Mad Hot Ballroom' (highly recommended) about ballroom dancing programs in NYC public schools. We seem to have some worthy contenders at Columbus Preschool!
Adelaida helped us learn proper posture (backs straight!) and hand positioning, and as the children took small steps back and forth, legs stiff, one child commented that "the waltz is like penguins dancing."

After a fantastic brainstorming session, where we discussed anything and everything having to do with autumn, we started to put together our fall collages, a multi-textured celebration of our favorite fall features. We will be working on them throughout the week, so feel free to bring in items to add!

This week, Spanish class begins! We are al
l very excited about this new addition to our day, and we have even been practicing ahead of time. Here is the first verse of our good morning song, followed by the (rough) Spanish equivalent:

Hello, how are you? Hello, how are you? Hello, how are you? How are you today?

Hola, como estan? Hola, como estan? Hola, como estan? Como estan mis amigos?

We are also learning to count in Spanish, numbers 1 through 5 forward and backward! Cuan emocionante!

And, as usual, creativity levels have been through the roof in our classroom. Whether mashing clay, rolling a painted marble over paper, gluing tissue paper and felt, or working at the easel, everyone loves making something beautiful.


In extended day, we have been collecting leaves and acorns for our murals, writing our first song, working with blocks, and experimenting with air:

Many of the children had their first taste of butternut squash on Friday, and we definitely have some new fans! I cooked it in the oven with some brown sugar for a little over an hour.
Next week, we will be enjoying fresh popped corn, right off the cob! Greenmarket at Union Square sells red blue and yellow corn on the cob that you can put in a paper bag and microwave. Yum!

....'til next time...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Apples, Pumpkins, and Gourds.... Oh My!

As I always say, it's never too early in the day for some pie! Our day began with Sara, our wonderful music teacher, who took us on a musical journey to the apple orchard. Everyone helped pick apples, and when we thought we picked enough, we headed back to make a pie.

Here is the recipe, created by th
e children, in case you want to make it at home:

Assorted apples (red, blue, yellow, orange, rainbow)

Cats & dogs (optional)
Wash, chop, stir, taste, and bake to perfection.

While we were waiting for the pie to come out of the oven, we sang a "Waiting Medley," culled entirely from the children's song suggestions: We Will Rock You (Queen), ABC's (traditional), I Love Rock and Roll (Joan Jett & the Blackhearts), and Frere Jacques (trad.). We even had an apple pie dance party...

And by the end of our trip, we all deserved a quick rest!

When they woke, the children quickly returned to their prehistoric states of being. There have been several dinosaur sightings within the classroom, but fortunately, they are all friendly dinosaurs, even the ferocious Allosaurus, Velociraptor, and Tyrannosaurus Rex. We have learned that these dinosaurs have sharp and pointy teeth for eating meat, while some have flat teeth for munching on plants, and some enjoy eating both! We have also been talking about two-legged and four-legged varieties, as well as how some dinosaurs protect themselves with plates, horns, and spikes.
One of our new favorite (and longest) vocabulary words is 'paleontologist.' The children were able to dabble in this profession at the sand table, searching for hidden dinosaur fossils!

And then, just as the volcanologists predicted, there was another eruption our classroom! WOW! After the initial explosion, we were able to move in for a closer look...

...Fortunately, many of our dinosaurs have learned to coexist with the others in the classroom, including cowgirls, construction workers (with loud jackhammers!), and spiders. Indeed, we have many characters who appear throughout our day, and this only adds to the excitement.

The children were highly enthusiastic about the appearance of some favorite fall fruits, such as gourds, pumpkins, and squash! I guess we don't usually think of them as fruit, but they have seeds, as we discovered.

...These were but a few of the highlights of our week. Feel free to have your child bring in any dino-or-volcano-related favorites from home, or anything that has to do with prehistory. Soon we will be talking about some of the enormous animals that lived after the dinosaurs, like the sabre-toothed tiger and the woolly mammoth. Yikes!........ See you next week...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Attention: Do Not Be Alarmed

Perhaps you have all heard the news, or even seen it for yourself.

It seems that our classroom is going prehistoric!!

Not only were there strange animal tracks in our hallway today, which the children concluded
must be from some kind of dinosaur, but there was also a cataclysmic volcano eruption at approximately 2:13 this afternoon.

Our scientists
soon determined there may be more eruptions at any time. . .

I've always loved this experiment- its so easy to do, and I'm sure you have all done it at some point in your life. You probably have everything you need already in your kitchen somewhere, and if you want to see this your kids go crazy for baking soda and vinegar, this is how you do it:

Fill 2L bottle 3/4 full with warm water, and add 6 drops liquid dishwashing detergent, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and red food coloring. Then pour in the vinegar and enjoy.

Our room was overtaken by lava, so we fled to the gym with Coach Gio. We were able to escape quickly, thanks to the collective agility of the children:

We then took shelter in the library, which was perfect, because we all love the library! We get to shop for books we would like to read, and bring them back to the classroom so we can go to it whenever we finish our snack early, during rest time, or choice time. The selection is in constant rotation.

We also received a visit from our friendly local neighborhood police officer. She taught us that police officers can help us or tell us how to be safe, and now we know to dial 0 or 911 for help!

And after practicing our handwriting, making beautiful marble paintings, and reading stories, we STILL had time for a dance party! Check out the movie below:

The leaves are starting to change color, and the room has been filled with talk of fall (and dinosaurs). As we remember how much fun we had at the beach this summer, we are all excited to see some beautiful leaves and pumpkins starting to appear.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

September 28, 2007

Dear Family Members and Friends:

PHEW! We’ve been having a blast since school started. Lately, we have been spending so much time in the ocean that some of us have started growing fins and flippers!

The sand table has received a visit from everyone in the classroom. We love scooping and sifting, and sometimes finding a hidden crab or turtle under the sand.

After getting parched from playing in the sand for a bit, it felt so good to cool off in the water! Swimming in our water table is an assortment of aquatic animals, and watch out for that “slimy,” “salty,” “stinky” seaweed! Milo takes a closer sniff:

The children took the far-less-pungent classroom plant, the mums, and gave it a new home in our garden outside. Everybody helped dig the hole and pat down the dirt, and some even found a few squirmy garden dwellers:

We’ve had our share of dance parties too, and when Adelaida is in the room, the excitement is never far behind. Have you heard Ella Fitzgerald singing ‘Old McDonald?’ Our room was on FIRE! We also love playing ‘freeze dance’ (the Beatles are always a big hit) and ‘get up and dance’ (below).All the children love to show their classmates their ‘happy feet!’

During extended day, we have been experimenting with brine shrimp, seaweed, sinking and floating, salt water versus fresh water, dinosaurs, tall block towers, and counting concepts. Many of these projects carry through to the next morning, as I explained during curriculum night.

..Uh-oh, I hear some dinosaurs stomping around here! Could it be Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, or the most feared of all dinosaurs, the ‘Stompasaurus?’ Stay tuned..!