Yes, playing outside is fun, healthy and critical to child development and in kindergarten we do lots of it, but we also use the great outdoors to learn! Simple trips to the playground can become engaging math activities, where students are challenged to count objects or find examples of patterns or symmetry. The walk back from a fire drill can become a time to explore spider webs and mystery holes. When the budding scientists were armed with clipboards and asked to make scientific observations using their senses, the outdoor classroom really came alive! Sounds of insects, cars and babbling brooks were recorded. Lots of things we see everyday were more closely examined and noticed, rocks turned over to reveal whole villages of bugs! We smelled flowers, grass and hay – closing our eyes to breathe it all in. Using our hands to discover more about textures we felt rough bark, soft moss and damp grass. Everytime we step outside, a whole new world awaits!
We had our first weekly collaboration with our fifth grade social studies buddies on Thursday. During this time, Mr. Kayumba and I hope to explore the many nuances of cultures and diversity with our students. There will also be a weekly literature collaboration with the other section of the fifth grade class. We spent this first meeting getting to know each other. The fifth graders were asked to interview their kindergarten buddies and find out basic information like their names and hobbies as well as tell them about themselves. Then we challenged them to also share more personal information like fears and things they struggle with. It was a great opportunity to learn things we never knew about each other and break the ice. Some buddies found that despite the age difference they had lots in common. I even learned things about my former kindergartners who are now in fifth grade that were totally surprises to me!
Every year, around this time kindergarteners get to experience spring in full bloom at the idyllic pond at the Audubon Nature Center. After a brief instruction, our intrepid scientists are armed with nets and get to scooping. Specimens of muck and pond slime are carefully sifted through looking for all forms of pond life. What surprises me most about this trip is that the haul is always quite unique. Highlights of this year’s ponding event included not one but two snake sightings, several frogs caught and one huge bullfrog tadpole. After, we returned all the bits of rotting leaves back to the pond for we know that each leaf could be the nursery for hundreds of baby amphibians. The day was completed by a hike around the trails where you can just smell the new plants budding and life starting afresh.
The PreK-3 and kindergarten classes spent time at the Yale Art Museum last week learning about three artists: Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh and Jackson Pollack. The three year olds were familiar with the artists from their lessons in the classroom and were thrilled to be able to see the paintings in person (and for most it was extra exciting as it was their first time visiting an art museum). Docents led us through the museum and discussed the color and texture within the paintings.
The kindergarteners have been reading and writing poetry and talking about how poets express their feelings. Before the trip we discussed how art can also be a means of self expression and went into the museum with the intention of looking at the art pieces and seeing which emotions or feelings they evoked. As we gazed upon the shapes and colors in a Picasso, our docent gave each child felt pieces to create their own abstract interpretation of an animal.
The other day, kindergarteners were amazed by a visit from Mia’s dad where he taught us magic! After demonstrating a few tricks with the help of his lovely assistant, the magician divulged his secrets and showed the class how to trick their friends and family. Everyone was given a magic wand, a deck of cards and the gift of illusion. If you have a special talent you would like to share with the class, it is not too late. Contact Mrs. Barbuto to set up your classroom visit today!
The kindergarteners were beyond excited to go up to the “big kid” math class and see what they have been working on! That was even before they knew they had a built a huge planetarium in their classroom! Students quickly climbed inside and were awed and amazed by the show Mr. Werner projected onto the ceiling of the dome. The excitement did not wane as we exited the structure to learn more about how it was made. “Desks!” The eager children squealed in delight! We learned how the eighth graders had constructed the planetarium with cardboard and saw some of the early prototypes. My students can’t wait until they are old enough to be in Mr. Werner’s class and build something similar, but they do not have to wait to have this very planetarium. It will be up for auction at the Spring Gala on April 28th!