Friday, April 30, 2010

Build and Remove

We learned a new game in math today called Build and Remove. We drew a card and placed that number of pennies on a 10 Frame. Children recorded the number and then rolled a die. This told them how many pennies to remove. They circled the number of pennies on their worksheet, then counted how many were remaining and recorded the answer. A lot of steps to remember! When we play again on Monday they will have an easier time remembering how to do it.

Playing Save the Whale, a simple addition game during computer lab time.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Being Architects

Today in art we had a great lesson about architecture. Kids learned about what architects do, and then got to be architects themselves! BZ put them into groups because architects often have to work with other people. Then she gave them the challenge of creating a building using every block on their table. There were A LOT of blocks on every table, of all shapes and sizes. The kids had to work with the others in their group to figure out how to make strong bases for their buildings and how to incorporate every block.

After their buildings were complete, they got a chance to draw what they built. BZ taught the kids the trick of how to draw a cube.

After they finished their drawings, kids who wanted to got a chance to use a digital camera to take a picture of what they built.

All in all it was an awesome lesson where the kids used many skills! Thanks BZ!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wildflower Walk and Skyping Pema

We hope everyone had a wonderful vacation! Yesterday afternoon the rain held off and we were able to take magnifying glasses into the woods and upper field to look for wildflowers. Kids had a great time looking at all sorts of things close-up. We found lots of flowers, including bluets, mayflowers, goldthread, violets, dandelions and daffodils.

This morning we were thrilled to be able to Skype Pema! Debbie Lee, the computer teacher, helped us call Pema's family all the way in India. Yesterday we had a chance to view some photos and videos on Pema's family's blog, so we had lots of questions. Pema told us that it's hot in India and some of the food is the same as here but mostly it's different. Her favorite Indian food is a kind of pancake. She and her family get around mostly by motorcycle. Pretty soon they will be travelling to Europe, where we hope to Skype with them again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Learning About the Heart and Quabbin Pictures

Yesterday we had a visit from Glenn Miskovsky, doctor and Shutesbury dad. He talked to us about the heart and its important role in the body. We learned that the heart is a muscle that beats all day long, pumping blood from the lungs to all the other parts of the body. He told them that their hearts weigh about a half a pound, and that by the time you are 70, your heart has beaten 3 billion times! Children got a chance to use stethoscopes to hear their heartbeats, and to find their pulse on their necks and wrists. Glenn brought some heart ultrasounds to show us too, which kids viewed on the computer. We could actually see the valves of the heart opening and closing, and the blood moving through! Thank you Glenn!

And, as promised, here are some more photos of our Quabbin/Fish Hatchery field trip on Monday, courtesy of Clif Read. Have a fantastic vacation!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Math This Week

Our most important goal for kindergarten math is for kids to verbalize their ideas and start to share their thinking. We'd much rather have a child explain the strategies of how she arrived at her answer rather than simply tell us the answer. We've been practicing explaining our thinking and listening to others, trying to repeat the ideas we've heard and decide if we agree with those ideas. So far, this week in math we've been working on Inventory Bags, Twenty Frame and Counting Jar.

In Twenty Frame, kids have a twenty frame; a die with one, two, and three on the sides; and a cup of twenty pennies. With a partner, they roll the die and gradually fill the frame in with one, two or three pennies. Along the way, we ask them how many pennies they have and how many more they need to fill the frame. We've heard lots of clever strategies for counting the pennies.

In Inventory Bags, partners take a paper bag full of some number of classroom objects. They count the contents and record their answer on a worksheet. We did this earlier in the year, but this time we're really pushing them to record more than one way of showing their answer. So now in addition to just the answer (ie: 12), we've been seeing lots of equations, for example, 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 12.

Counting Jar is something we've been doing all year long. First, children count the objects in the counting jar. In September, it was a small number of all the same kind of object. Now that it's April, the counting jar has a bigger number, and mixed objects. After the children count the objects in the counting jar, they record that number in two ways. First, they put the same number of buttons on their plate. Then, they record how many in their counting jar books.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Quabbin Field Trip

On Monday the Kindergarten went on its first field trip of the year to the Quabbin Reservoir. Accompanied by the first and second grades and a huge number of parent chaperones, we travelled to Gate 8 of the Quabbin to stock rainbow trout. It has been a tradition every April for grades K-2 to stock trout a few days before fishing season opens (this year it's April 17). Always a favorite for all, this year's trip was made even more special because we extended the trip to include a visit to the Charles L. McLaughlin trout hatchery in Belchertown. So not only did each child get a chance to personally put full-sized rainbow trout into the Quabbin, but each child got to feed some younger ones at the hatchery. Our hosts were Clif Read (DCR employee and Shutesbury dad), Ken Simmons (Mass. Fish and Wildlife biologist) and Jim Lagacy (Mass. Wildlife Angler Educator). They spoke to us about the Quabbin watershed and the joy of fishing and answered our questions about the fish we were looking at. It was very exciting to get out of the classroom and into nature, and share in their enthusiasm for fish and the outdoors.

A huge thank you goes out to Clif, Ken and Jim as well as our impressive turnout of parent volunteers! Thank you for a fantastic field trip!

Here is a link to David's dad, Fred's pictures. More pictures coming soon!

Friday, April 9, 2010

How Many Days Til The Quabbin?

The kindergarten has been abuzz with energy today. With the art show, book fair, and spaghetti supper this week who can blame them? Today at math time we continued Measuring Ourselves and another activity called Inventory Bags. When we gathered at the end for discussion, we realized we had some counting to do. Since Wednesday kindergartners have been keeping track of how many days until our Quabbin field trip, using our calendar:

The green smiley face on the 12th is for our field trip. Here are the different answers for how many days until the Quabbin as of Wednesday (in blue). Check marks indicate additional agreeing votes for that number.

As of Thursday:

And Friday (today):

We've been counting days on the calendar throughout the school year, and children's answers get more and more interesting!

While we're on the subject of calendars, here is our daily schedule. Kindergartners depend on it every day to figure out what comes next, and what to expect during the day. Sometimes they notice mistakes better than the teachers!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Measuring Ourselves

Today in math we began "Measuring Ourselves," an activity in which two partners use cubes to measure one another's body parts. For example, to measure Emilio's arm, Hunter connected cubes together along Emilio's arm until he got a cube stick of the right length. Then, Hunter counted the cubes. To double check, Emilio also counted the cubes. If their answers agreed, then Emilio would record the answer in his math book. Then they would do the same for Hunter's arm.

During the activity, we tried to keep some focus questions in mind. First, when you have a cube stick, does it matter if the cubes are connected or not?

In other words, is seven cubes connected together the same length as seven cubes NOT connected?

Second, when you count the cube stick starting from one direction, will you get the same answer as if you count it from the other direction?

We hope to discuss this further tomorrow. Happy Thursday!