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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Investigating Pumpkins

Since the kids were so interested in apples, I figured they would be interested in looking closer and learning more about pumpkins so I set up the room to foster their curiosity and see where they may go with it.  Here are some of the invitations that I set up and the exploring and creating that happened in those areas.

I purchased pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors.  So many of the kids think all pumpkins are orange!  When they walked into the room, their interest was piqued, but it did not get a lot of visitors!  They just were not as into looking closer at the pumpkins as they were the apples, which surprised me!



To try another perspective, I added a scale and unifix cubes for measuring. This grabbed their interest!  They loved seeing how heavy the pumpkins were and documented them by drawing the pumpkins and writing the number they saw on the scale.  We used the terms heavier and lighter to compare weights which is a common math core standard.



They also enjoyed seeing how tall they were and recorded their observations.  I wish I had gotten pictures of their documentation of what they noticed here!  With some guidance in the beginning, they did a great job of making their thinking visible!




We moved the pumpkins to another table to document what we noticed as we looked closer.




Some beginning physicists were exploring the concept of balance!


I have a lot of sculptors in our class so I made sure to make an area to show what they notice about pumpkins through the language of sculpture.


A couple friends decided to work as a team to create a pumpkin patch.  It took them three days to finish it! The detail was amazing!  You could tell they looked closely and made sure to add the stems, leaves and vines!


I was so impressed with this!


Many kids have started using post-its to label their work when they leave it out for display. Authentic, meaningful writing at its best!


I made and area for kids to show what they notice through transient art. Not as many were interested in this though!



I set out some opportunities for STEM experiences in our engineering and block area!  The STEM challenge was: Can you make a gate that will hold the five little pumpkins using these materials? My engineers loved this!


The hardest part of this one was making it sturdy!  They fell over very easily!




I set out paper for them to plan or document what they made in both areas.





Some of my architects just wanted to use the pumpkins as loose parts in their structure creations!


Because of the interest in weighing the pumpkins, I provided balance scales and heavy glass beads for them to explore the concepts of heavier/lighter, and equal weight.



For fine motor practice to develop their finger muscles, I provided a huge pumpkin with screws and screwdrivers.



I would say they really, really loved this!!!


At the end, I cut open the pumpkins for them to explore.  They documented what they noticed about the insides of the pumpkins.


After Halloween, the kids decided to change our Dramatic Play area into a Haunted House! This will be our first small scale project!  Stay tuned to see how it turns out in the next post!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Inquiring About Apples

The kids have apples for breakfast every morning but never really looked at them or noticed them.  They just ate them without really thinking about it...until one day, one group of kids started looking closer at their apples.  They were noticing details and marks in the skin, whether they had stems and were eating to the core to dig out the seeds.  Then they started wondering.  After I pointed out what this one group was noticing, others started doing the same, so I set up an area for them to look closer at apples and use art materials to document what they noticed.






They started looking closer and documenting what they noticed.  They started asking questions and wondering about the apples.  "Do they all have seeds?" "What colors can they be?" "Can they float?" "Why is it turning brown?"(Wondering if things sink or float is a consistent interest I am noticing with this group). We are keeping track of these wonderings so that we can answer their questions later!

Here is an observational drawing using oil pastels of a rotting apple.  They are noticing it changing more every day.


We did an experiment to see if the apples would sink or float.  The predictions were about half and half!  They floated but we wonder why?  If we throw it in the air it falls, but it doesn't in the water!  We may revisit this in a future inquiry! They used their emerging writing skills as they recorded their predictions and the results.


We cut up the different apples and created signs for them for an apple tasting!  They were so excited for this!


After tasting, we made a graph to collect some data.  I asked them what data this graph gives us.  They said, "Green has most." "Gala has fewest."  But then I asked them what that means.  What does this data mean?  I want them to extend the graph and connect it to the experience.  "Most of us liked the Granny Smith apples the best." "11 of us like Granny Smith apples."  This is very hard for them at first, but they are learning!


We set up a STEM challenge to get the kids to start using their critical thinking skills.  "Can you build a bridge that can hold an apple?" They then started trying to build a bridge that could hold the most apples and then started trying to figure out how to improve their designs to make them more sturdy. Here are just a few of the designs!



Each table created a giant apple to show the different colors apples can be.  This was the first small scale project where the kids worked as a team to show what they noticed.  They had so much fun creating these. "This is the best day ever!" was heard more than once as they were working!  If they loved working on these, I can't wait to do a large scale project with this group!

They started by mixing colors that would make the perfect matching color for their apple.


They looked closer at their apples and added the small details.




We incorporated writing as they came up with words to describe what they noticed about their apples and labeled them.


After exploring apples all that we could, they dictated what they learned to me as I typed it on the computer.  They started shouting out all of the sight words that we have learned so far that were popping up on our sentences!  They went up to the promethium board and pointed them out to me and asked if I would highlight them!  Here is our list of what we have learned about apples.


I took all of our projects and displayed them out in the hallway to show what we did as we explored apples!


 I also put out examples showing what they saw using oil pastels.


Here are some examples of labeling what they noticed on the inside of an apple and individual projects showing the seasons of an apple tree.


Because I use my own curriculum I make sure to post the standards worked on during the experiences in our inquiries.  These are not the only standards worked on as we also have reading, writing, and math stations covering even more.


Here is the whole display in our hallway showing all that we did.


Next we will look closer at pumpkins as we continue to practice looking closer and showing what we see, think and wonder!