Saturday, May 31, 2008

The School Of Rock

(many videos below, just click the play button)

Let it be known... your children know how to rock!!

Given all the recent special musical guests we have been incredibly fortunate to feature in our classroom, it was only a matter of time before the children demanded that the rock scepter be passed to themselves.

This is an emergent curriculum in action. One child suggested that they put on a concert.... I thought they'd never ask! We practiced all week, featuring songs requested by the children:

You Give Love A Bad Name/Bon Jovi
I Love Rock & Roll/Joan Jett
Under The Sea/The Little Mermaid
Til My Baby Comes Home/Luther Vandross
and the unanimous favorite...
We Will Rock You/Queen

The Queen song has been especially fun, particularly because it has a simple beat that the children easily can play along to, either on the floor or on one of our many drum/percussion sets. Through practice, we have noticed that many of the children have incredible senses of rhythm, love to be in the spotlight, and are terrific dancers.
We voted on a name for the band ('I Love Rock & Roll' beat 'The Honeybears' and 'The Lions').

And then it was showtime...

The band will perform once more at the End-O-The-Year Party (6/11 11am @ The Playground, 21+ no ID =no entry).

This concert came on the heels of super-generous-James Smith's in-class demonstrations/music & dance fests, Marta's special Spanish guest Gabriel, who played bongos for us on Thursday, our dance performance later that day, and finally Josh Reid & Elijah Tucker ( totally bringing the house down. After a crazy morning that included the crane collapse on the East Side, we were not sure if they would make it. However, the spirit of music brought Josh and Elijah to our class, and they WOWED us for 30 minutes with sing-alongs, dancing, and multi-instrumental mastery. They showed us their banjos, mandolins, and guitars, and played music ranging from bluegrass to showtunes (Under the Sea) to kid's tunes (We Are the Dinosaurs) to rock (I love Rock and Roll). Videos/photos below:

This video below is the Bamba dance from Puerto Rico. There is NO contact during this dance, and the male must follow the girl around as she shows off her be
autiful dress. Priceless!!

And one last video... this is an early rehearsal during extended day, when some of the children made
horns to play during one of our jams. Watch!

And of course, our hard-working musicians deserve a break from their gigs and rehearsals. Last Wednesday, we took a tour of Central Park with Wildman Steve Brill (, who showed us the medicinal & edible plants that grow in the park. He is a true expert in his field, and the children excitedly gathered leaves, (inedible) mushrooms, and flowers, as Wildman explained how they can be useful, often within the context of a story. He is great at working with children (he worked with our ENTIRE school that day, and is coming back for Camp!), and has an appropriately-named daughter of his own, Violet.

And finally, the children have been carefully taking care of their seeds and sprouts. Some have grown enough that we have moved them to the Butterfly Garden on the playground.

We have looked at seeds of all different shapes and sizes, and we even cracked open one of the largest seeds... the COCONUT!! This required a hammer and screwdriver, and the children happily hammered away until we were able to drain the water from inside, and then pass around the meat to taste. Other exotic foods we have tried include: starfruit (carambola), rambutan, custard fruit (cherimoya), and longon. Delicious!!

PS: Only 8 more days of school. *Sniff*

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Little Seedlings

What a week! As usual, we have been incredibly busy in school. The children have taken the curriculum to many new places lately, and we have been involved in a myriad of activities involving seeds, gardening, science experiments, art, and drumming. It has been a cornucopia of fun, and interesting to compare to previous curriculum units, which had more specific themes to focus on. I anticipate that the seed/gardening theme will become more front-and-center.

I've discovered a huge bag of seeds that we can plant in the garden outside on the playground, during after-school we conducted the classic toothpick-in-the-avocado-pit growth experiment (on view by the window), and I even brought in some 'crunchy sprouts' from Whole Foods that the children enjoy munching on (healthy food alert, parents!!), and will further enjoy once they plant them outside.

The Art Show was a smashing success, and, in the understatement of the year, I am very proud of all the children's hard work and creative energy that they bring to school every day. Below are some photos of them working on some of the pieces on display, as well as the homemade invitations that were sent home.

We conducted two science experiments last week. One fit in with our chicken unit, and is based on a thirty-year-old book I found in Marcia's office, called 'Ducks Don't Get Wet.' We learned that many birds have an oil gland near their backside, and they spread the oil over their feathers (preening). To see how this prevents them from getting wet, we used some of our craft feathers, eye droppers, and water, and observed how the water beads up and rolls right off the feather... FASCINATING!!!

Another experiment, taken from another book from the same series, 'Air Is All Around Us,' yielded awestruck expressions from the children, as in "That was SO COOL!." It was a simple experiment where you stuff crumpled paper towels in a plastic cup and insert it straight down into a tank of water. The air inside the cup keeps the towel dry, and if you tilt the cup while it is under water, you can see the air literally escaping in the form of air bubbles (that was the part that blew the children's minds). We did this three more times, and the following day, I set up the experiment again for the children to conduct on their own. Way cool!

And finally, Part One of a VERY special treat: James brought in several of his drum & percussion instruments for a drum workshop with the children. On Friday, everyone got a chance to sit behind his AWESOME electronic drum kit and have their own solo. We also looked at a congo drum, and a small African drum. James will be back on Monday, when we will explore movement and dance with drumming, and will surely be as fun as Friday. The look in the children's eyes while drumming is incredible... their eyes get real wide, with this sense of discovery and wonderment. Below are two movies and many photos....ROCK ON, PRESCHOOL!!!.......STAIRWAYYY!!