Thursday, 29 November 2012

Children’s Theories on Why Leaves Change Colour

A conversation about seasonal changes through watercolour representations. 

Exploring Environmental Changes

Leaves, Leaves & More Leaves

Observing and Recreating
Fine Lines of Leaves

The Many Languages of Children

Explaining Natural Phenomena through Art

The Building Inquiry

“A construction site at our school!”

We went outside to play in our playground one day and… there was a fence surrounding the playground that said “construction zone”.

Curious Children

The children were very curious about this fence and what was going to happen to their playground. Later that day the children got to meet the construction workers who shared with the children that they would be doing some work to the playground.

The Blueprint

One of the construction workers, Bob was holding a large roll. The children asked Bob what he had. He told them that he had the blueprint for the new playground area. Bob unrolled the blueprint to share with the students. Seeing a real blueprint was so exciting and became the provocation for a new inquiry.

Observing a Real Blueprint

Bob, kindly allowed our class to bring their blueprint into our classroom for a closer look. The children observed the blueprint making observations and asking many questions.

L.C.: What are those circles?
T.K: Is that supposed to be a swimming pool?
A.L: What are those numbers for?
M.Y: There are so many numbers!

A Conversation about Blueprints

Following the student’s close observation of the 

blueprint, we had a class discussion about 


Ms. P: What is a blueprint?

S.M: Kind of like you print something in blue.

C.Z: Paper is called a blueprint.

S: paper to make the park bigger.

A.L: Print a picture and it’s blue and it tells you what to do.

S.M: I think it’s like instructions.

Ms. P: what are instructions?

S.M: It means they have a plan for something.

Ms. P: Why do you think the builders 
have a plan before they begin building?

S: To see what they are building.

A.L: Because if they don’t have a plan they are 
not going to know what to build.

T.K: I think at the block center we should make a 
plan so we know what to build.

Ms. P: What a fabulous Idea! We are going to leave 
clipboards with paper for boys and girls to makes plans before building at the block center. 

Questions for provocation:

During our outdoor exploration, the 
children observed the construction workers busy at work.

Ms. P: What do you see?

S.M: They are putting new sand, that truck will move it with its wheels and then we will play.
C.Z: The truck is making a big hole for the pool.
A.R: They are digging and digging for a treasure.
S.T: The truck is digging and the sand is going down, down.
E.L: We see building stuff.
T.K: They are building a park with basketball nets and sand is in a pile. They are building together and working together.
S: They are building and digging the sand and digging to put new sand to play.
A.L: They are going to build that thing that puts the ball and make the sand more bigger so the children will have fun and that’s all.
C.Z: I see dandelions and flowers and feathers.

Everyday when we walk by we see they are digging the dirt.

Where is the dirt going?

E.L: put it in the truck.
E.C: In the garbage can.
S: They are turning all the sand in the truck and putting it for a new house to build.
A.R: they are going to put it in a different truck and put it in a new playground. 

Making a Plan

While engaged in inquiry-based learning at the block center, a few of the children created plans for their structures.

A.L: If we put all the blueprints together like a puzzle then we will know what we are building. Shaheem and me and the other guys are working together and we are the bosses. But I carry the blue prints.

S: Step back it’s dangerous here. You need a construction hat.

T.K: It’s not dangerous for me, I work here.

S: It’s no safe that’s why there is a fence. 

Some of the children used the blueprints and classroom blocks to show their representation of what our new park will look like.

We also continued this inquiry in partnership with our Teacher Librarian, Ms. Cosgrove. We will post more from this inquiry soon!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Building a Multicultural Alphabet

The children worked very hard to create an alphabet 
out of the materials they brought into our classroom 
for our Beautiful Stuff Project. This has inspired a new project! We would like to celebrate all cultures in our classroom by creating and displaying alphabets made up of letters from the languages that the children in our class speak.

Our aim is to represent all of the cultures of our 
students by inviting children to share the alphabets of their first languages.

Exploring Multiple Alphabets

Through this exploration of alphabets from different 
parts of the world, the children are beginning to explore concepts of community, appreciation, self-identity, self-worth and peace. This project has also added a new dimension to our understanding of the concept of “beauty”.

When children share parts of their culture what affect 
does this have on community building within the classroom environment?

What questions do the children have about each 
other’s languages and cultures?

How do children feel about speaking multiple languages?

Sparking Discussion

The sharing of the multicultural alphabet provoked a 
discussion about similarities and differences between cultures.

We asked the children to discuss their feelings on speaking multiple languages:

T.K: I love C. because she speaks 
a different language and I think it’s beautiful. 

Painting a Mandala

A Mandala of Letters from 

All Around the World

A Powerful Message

During our discussion, the idea that speaking multiple languages is “beautiful” emerged. The children came up with a powerful message.

“My language is beautiful, so is yours.”   - T.K.

A special thank you to parents and grandparents for helping us with our project by writing out alphabets, printing out online versions of alphabets, and writing out names in different languages.

Counting & Representing Numbers

Labelling a 10–Frame

From Whole Group to Small Group

Earlier this week, the children participated in creating a collection of counting tiles for our classroom. Next, it was time for us to release some of the responsibility to the children. The children were invited to form small groups.

Each group created one 10 frame by labeling each box with the numbers 1-10.

A precious moment captured:
S.M. a SK student helping 
R.S. a JK 
student write the number 2. 

Once the boxes had been label the children selected a basket with manipulatives. They began to count out objects to match with each numbers.

Representing the Numbers

Even though the rocks were different sizes and colours, the children demonstrated an understanding that each rock represented one. 

Creating Counting Tiles


Competent counting requires mastery of a symbolic system, facility with a complicated set of procedures that require pointing at objects and designating them with symbols, and understanding that some aspects of counting are merely conventional, while others lie at the heart of its mathematical usefulness.                                                     (Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, p.159)

Many of the mathematical concepts that students learn 
in the first few years of school are closely tied to counting.

Curriculum Expectation:

NS1 demonstrate an understanding of numbers, using 
concrete materials to explore and investigate counting, quantity, and number relationships.

Our Hands on Thinking Center now includes manipulatives to support the children in developing number sense and numeration skills such as counting, quantity and representing numbers.  

Representing Numbers

To support the children in developing counting, quantity, and number representation skills, we co-constructed number tiles.

Counting Tiles

The children began by taking turns labelling tiles from 1 to 10. 

Representing the Numbers

The children then took turns representing the numbers 
using a variety of different materials.

While the children counted out beads, buttons, 
marbles, etc. we emphasized the concept of one-to-one correspondence and using our fingers to touch each object as we counted.

Displaying the Numbers



The number tiles are now displayed at our Hands on Thinking center for the children to refer to during play. 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Lest We Forget (continued)

Creating a Wreath

In preparation for our Remembrance Day assembly, all of the children worked together to create a wreath to be hung during the assembly.

Creating Art from Nature

Each child painted a piece of driftwood using a colour of their choice. 

Every Piece Counts

Once the painted driftwood was dry they were glued to create a peace shaped wreath. We also talked about how each child’s “piece” of wood was important and needed to create our peace wreath.

T.K. and A.C. proudly hung our peace wreath in the gym during the assembly. 

Our wreath and peace signs now hang on our door. 

The Concept of Peace

The concept of peace is an ongoing discussion in our classroom. Some of the questions we have been exploring around peace include:

What is peace?

Why is peace important?

How can I create a peaceful classroom?

How can I help create a peaceful community? 

While our discussions around these questions are 
ongoing, the preparation for our school’s Remembrance Day assembly seemed to generate many interesting conversations around the concept of peace. I was amazed at the critical thinking and questioning the kindergarten students in our class displayed. Questions about soldiers and whether or not they are “good” or “bad” emerged, as well as questions around what is our role in creating peace around us (at home, at school, and in our community).

Can you say Peace?

Our class read a story this week called, “Can you Say Peace?” by Karen Katz. The children enjoyed hearing the way boys and girls in other parts of the world say “peace” in their language.         
The children were eager to take turns saying the word peace in the different languages as our class has been discussing different languages and students have even been bringing in alphabets from the languages they speak at home.

We decided that the ways boys and girls say peace should be shared with others in our school. A small group of children decided that they wanted to take a closer look at the story and paint the word peace in different languages. 

Peace Shines Through

I used this as an opportunity to teach the children 
about paint resist techniques. I modeled by showing the children how to write with oil pastels and then to use watercolour paints over the oil pastels. The children were very excited to see the oil pastel shine through the watercolour paint. They then began working on their own peace signs while practicing this paint resisting technique. 

Patterns Around Peace

Once the peace cards had dried, the children created 
a border around the word, peace. They were challenged to use the beads to create a pattern.  

B.Y. and M.T creating an AB colour pattern out of beads. 

The children collaborated to create bead patterns. 

Lest We Forget

In preparation for remembrance day the three kindergarten classes practiced a poem, Peace Treaty.

Peace Treaty

For as long as the moon rises. 
For as long as the grass grows green.
For as long as the river flows. 
We will be friends.
We will live in peace.

Each kindergarten class created one of the elements from nature. Our class created a flowing river. 

We have been reading a couple of books by author, Eric Carle. We have been very curious about his art work and how he creates the illustrations for his books. We watched a short video of Eric Carle painting with some unconventional materials.

Take a look at author and artist Eric Carle in his studio:

Our Inspiration: Eric Carle Painting a Murale

Inspired by Eric Carle

We decided to paint our own river murale using a variety of different materials, not just a simple paint brush. 

We used materials found in our classroom.
Children explored creating texture and printmaking.

Rolling up our Sleeves
Getting our Hands Dirty
and Creating Art

The Product of Collaboration: 

A Flowing River

"I think it's beautiful." - T.K.

The beautiful prints made by the children is evident. The children displayed remarkable collaboration throughout the creation of the river. They each contributed their own special touch to our river. We lay the final product out on the carpet for the children to examine. The conversation that followed illustrated the children's sense of pride in what they had created. 

One of the children described the river as "beautiful". Our conversation continued to explore this concept of beauty as students thought about what makes this river beautiful. 

C.Z: All of the different shapes.
J.M: There's so many colours.
S.M: We all help to make it because we collaborate.
S.T: We worked together!

Incorporating our River 

into the Block Center

The children decided to add the river into the block center. During centers, a few of the children lay the river out on the carpet and placed the blocks on top of it as rocks and as a bridge. The children used their imagination during play to pretend that there was an alligator in the river and they had to hop from "rock" to "rock" without falling in the river with the "alligator." Similarly, another group of children found the book, "The Three Billy Goats" and pretended that they were the goats trying to cross the bridge over the river. 

A few children taking a "swim" in the river.