Friday, October 31, 2008

Peter Pan Puppets, Pumpkins!

We had a wonderful Halloween in school today. Our trip to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater was the perfect way to spend our morning. We even had a bit of extra time before the show started to explore Belvedere Castle, overlooking Turtle Pond. The children had a great time, and the performance was very entertaining. It was somewhat of a 'NYC Version' of the show, complete with stroller references and tributes to the diversity in the city. Wendy, Peter, Captain Hook, Smee, Tinkerbell, and the Lost Boys all made their appearances, and there were lots of great songs along the way.

We made it back to school in time for lunch and (a well-deserved) rest, and even had time to make pumpkin muffins, and to dance with Adelaida!

Also, our ladybugs *finally* arrived on Thursday. They had accidentally been delivered to Super Soccer Stars next door, and had been sitting in a tube marked 'OPEN IMMEDIATELY' for who knows how long. Fortunately, all the larva appear to be in good health, and the children excitedly helped put together a suitable home for them, with cotton balls, leaves, and water-filled sponges for them to drink from. Once they turn into adult ladybugs, they will be hungry for some raisins! We will watch them carefully over the next few days to see if we notice any changes. Soon they will turn into the red-and-black beetles that are familiar to all of us.

Other names for the ladybug:
Ireland: bóín Dé-"God's little cow"
Croatia: Božja ovčica- "God's little sheep"
France: bête à bon Dieu, "the Good Lord's animal"
Turkey: Turkish: uğur böceği "Lucky Bugs"

Remember: No school on Thursday and Friday because we have conferences together! I will be sending out reminder notices so you can remember your scheduled time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bugs! Barns! Blocks!

Buzz Buzz:

Our examination of bugs and insects continued this week, and the children began to make drawings based upon some of the toys we have in the classroom. Drawing what you see isn't always easy, but they enjoyed doing this, and even added creative touches such as leaves for the insects to rest on (below).

We are incredibly fortunate to have the absolutely beautiful community garden just down the block from our school. It makes for a quick and easy trip, and we are able to make some great observations about nature. It's like our own little Eden. It's peaceful, well-kept, and at this time of the year, very colorful! The children noticed many things about leaves during our trip, and they loved looking at the ENORMOUS leaf (below), which was bigger than most of the children. They also enjoyed collecting acorns from the ground. One child noted that "squirrels eat the acorns or they move them around." We used this idea to talk about how some animals are great 'helpers,' doing their job to spread seeds around, or how bees spread pollen around.

We then used some of the leaves that we collected from the community garden to make leaf rubbings, as well as observational art, which are on display above the meeting rug in the classroom. We have noticed that leaves come in many different shapes and sizes. We read a book about why the leaves are changing colors, in which we learned that during the year, the leaves are 'already' red, yellow, or orange, but since there is so much sunlight during spring and summer, the leaves produce more chlorophyll to feed the trees. More chlorophyll = more green. Basically, the green color is masking the colors that we later see in the fall, when there is less sunlight, so less chlorophyll. Fascinating! We talked about how trees are going to 'hibernate' through the winter, and we talked about some other animals that also hibernate.

Oohh, they love the barn! The animals have parties in the barn (but the humans aren't invited). It is definitely a popular toy, and this week we played with it on the rug as well as on a table, in order to help structure their play differently. It's a pleasure to see their imaginations at play, even if I can't attend the parties...

We certainly have some super chefs in the classroom! During one of our meetings on the rug, the children began to talk about how they like to bake and cook, and how many of the children enjoy this as a family activity. We then asked them what can we cook together in school, and inevitably, their answer was CUPCAKES. The following day, we made a delicious batch. The children were in charge of the preparation, and they did all of the work except for the parts involving the hot oven. The recipe included: flour, applesauce, brown sugar, vanilla, oil, and baking soda. The frosting was confectioners sugar with water, and they all loved decorating them after they cooled off a bit. Mm!
Cupcake comments included:
"They're so good!"
"Yummy in my tummy!"
"They're sooooooooooo good!"
"I like the sprinkles."
"Num num num num"

Here a few more block structures created during freeplay. We have been seeing a lot of symmetrical structures, and some truly creative architecture!

Whenever we have had a few spare moments during the day lately, we began playing a guessing/hiding game, in which one child stands at the front of the room and closes their eyes, while seated children is handed a ball to hide behind their back. Everybody then puts their hands behind their backs, and the child gets three guesses to see if they can figure out who is hiding the ball. It's a lot of fun to watch, and the children really enjoy it, and many have picked up on the nuances of the game, such as trying to 'trick' the child by smiling or pretending to play with the ball behind their back, even if they are not the one hiding it. That's a long paragraph explaining a devastatingly simple game. But it's fun!

Enjoy the rest of these photos from our fun-filled week!