Welcome to the Early Learning Community at Pacific University
We invite you to explore our site and enjoy this reflection of our school life.
Individual photos may be downloaded for your own collection. Feel free to share comments – we love to read and reply to them!
The Whales classroom was immersed in the concept of hibernation this week. We took a Hibernating Bear Walk, first exploring why food is harder to find (and detect with our sense of smell) in the frozen winter. We smelled and ate berries and nuts, and then tried to detect (and eat!) those same berries and nuts when they were frozen in ice. Whales were surprised to find that the food frozen in ice "just smelled like water." They agreed it would be much harder to eat (and find!) food that had been packed under ice and snow. During our walk, we explored what it felt like to lay on the ground (spread apart and out in the open) without our fur and brown fat (our winter coats). We found it was much colder when we didn't have our fat and fur to keep warm. We got up and looked hard for a place that a bear might consider making it's den. When we found it, we huddled close together and discovered that our body heat helped keep us cozy and warm.
Later in the week, Whales chose the hibernating animal they were interested in learning more about. We worked in small groups, exploring what it felt like to be a hibernating Black Bear, Northwest Painted Turtle, Garter Snake or Little Brown Bat. We completed research papers to show what we had learned.
We played hibernation games that incorporated numeracy and literacy, created some scientific illustrations of our animals in atelier, and became many hibernating and migrating animals during our time in creative play. Whales are becoming hibernation experts!
To celebrate the amazing work the Whales have been doing in Writing Club, we invited some of our biggest fans to come and share our published stories with us. We had a record 100% turnout of adoring parents, family member and friends! Whales proudly showed off their work in understanding the elements of a story, organizing, planning, phonology, phonics, revision, peer editing, illustration, and more. It was a fitting celebration to honor months of hard work and FUN!
Our Whale classroom has been filled with busy little elves! Through our study of the classic Grimm's fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker students have explored math, literacy, art and drama. We have been growing their fine motor skills through sketching, painting, sewing and beading as we prepare holiday gifts and beautiful art for our classroom walls. Our skills in literacy and numeracy have been stretched in "wintery ways" as we wrote letters to elves, threw snowballs at sight words, and played games of "Blizzard Take-Away", "Ice and Snow Addition" and "Shoe Shop Sort and Measure"!
The Whales worked for a solid week, putting together the script and props for their play The Story Of a Tree which they performed in front of a spellbound audience of students at the ELC. The production attempted to provide a basic understanding of how photosynthesis works, how a tree reproduces, and how trees provide humans with the oxygen and energy they need to live. Whales came away with a deeper understanding of the importance of the sun's energy, and how crucial trees are for our survival. In addition, Whales again demonstrated how, "When we work together, we can do great things!"
Please find a video of the entire performance on the Watch and Listen tab above.
The Whales classroom was filled with leaf and tree activities this week. Our interdisciplinary study included engineering, art, literacy, numeracy, science, drama and song. The following provocations were posed to Whales during our classroom choice time: How can you create a tree with blocks and branches that will not fall over in strong wind? Can you create a tree using your hand as the template? Can you label the parts of a tree? Can you work together to find matching leaf varieties? Can you sew around the outside of a variety of leaf shapes? What do you notice about leaves when you look under the ProScope, how are they different and how are they the same?
Whales performed an experiment that showed the colors hidden within leaves. We found that the green chlorophyll pigment was hiding a red pigment within a maple leaf! Whales worked together to collect and then sort nine different varieties of leaves, classifying them according to size, leaf type and color. Whales presented their findings to their friends.
Stay tuned for an upcoming play focusing on the life of a tree, and the amazing process of photosynthesis. Whales are currently collaborating on the script and using their imagination to create some pretty amazing props. We are excited to perform the play for other students at the ELC next week!
Whales had a fascinating start to their leaf and tree unit this week. Professor Stacey Halpern (a plant biologist, tree expert, and distinguished Whale mom!) took us on a Tree Talk & Walk across the Pacific University Campus. Whales had a chance to investigate both coniferous and deciduous trees native to the Northwest. They compared and contrasted the trees and needles of the Douglas Fir, Sequoia and Shore Pine as well as the leaves of the Ginkgo, Oak and Vine Maple. Whales spent time noticing tiny details in shape, texture, color and scent of the leaves and needles. Stay tuned to hear more adventures of Whale dendrologists!
It's only Wednesday and the Whales have had enough excitement to last the entire week (at least that's what Ms. Ellie and Ms. Julie think)! After spending the morning searching for sight words, playing sight word bingo, and discovering plenty of new ways to make the number seven, Whales got to open a very special package left in our classroom by none other than Felicity The Penmanship Fairy. Along with a special note, she left penmanship books, nifty highlighter pencils, sparkly gel pens, mechanical pencils and some very useful writing dust.
Whales reveled in their success as genuine thespians today as they performed The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch to a rapt audience of ELC friends! Whales have been true reading detectives, exploring the story at length and noticing elements like character, setting and plot. In addition, they spent time analyzing the story's beginning, middle and end as they related to concepts of conflict and resolution.
The content of the play inspired further conversation, as Whales explored questions such as, "What makes a good friend?" "What makes a princess a princess?" and "Was the play's ending happy or sad? Why?"
A video of the performance can be found on the "watch and listen" tab above.
There was a whole lot of excitement in the air as Whales prepared for our annual tie-dying extravaganza! The dyes were rich and vibrant, and the tees had been tied with care. Whales are anxiously anticipating the final results of all their hard work!
Whales teamed up and played some number sense games that explored concepts of counting and cardinality, comparison and measurement. Math is FUN!
On Tuesday morning, Ms. Ellie showed up with 2 bushels of apples that needed to be chopped into smaller pieces for making apple cider. Not feeling a bit intimidated by such an onerous task, Whales rolled up their sleeves and went right to work. We managed to chop all the apples in less than one hour! As we prepared to go outside, Whales shared how it felt to accomplish such a big job. "It seemed like we couldn't, but then we all worked together and we did it!", "My hands hurt from all that chopping, but I just kept on cutting more apples. I knew we could do it!", "I saw the apples in the bucket, and then I saw all the apples we chopped together. Wow!"
After doing all that chopping, we lugged the heavy bucket of apples to the outdoor classroom. We began by crushing the apples into even smaller pieces by turing a big wheel on a machine that pulled the apples in and cut them into bits. The wheel was hard to turn, but we put our whole bodies into the task. Our Whale friends offered encouragement and smiles as we worked!
All those apple bits got poured into a pressing machine with a big handle on top. We worked in pairs to squeeze all the delicious juice from the apples. We cheered as the sweet liquid came pouring out. We made apple cider!
The rest of the week we continued our apple theme, looking closely at the inside of apples and noticing that the apples growing in our piazza have, in the words of one Whale, "become houses for some bugs!" We will continue to investigate this problem, seeking some solutions to help improve the health of our piazza apple trees.
After learning that there are 7,500 (truly!) apple varieties grown around the world, the Whales conducted a taste test of their own. We tasted four varieties: Honeycrisp, Sweet Tango, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. After looking at the results of our survey, Whales found that most of them liked Honeycrisp the best!
Our work in togetherness continued throughout the week. The photos below capture just some of our big, important Whale Work!
Whales began a study of apples this week. We started by doing some field exploration in the ELC piazza. We spent time looking at our apple trees and noticing details such as size, shape, color and overall health of the apples on the ground and still on the trees. Whales noticed small details in the color and shape of the leaves as well as the type of insects found on or near our apple trees. On Friday we cut the apples open and looked at what we found inside. Whales were intrigued by the apples that appeared to be a home for other living things!
Inside the classroom, Whales spent time weighing apples. We sorted items into various categories according to weight. Were the items heavier, lighter, or the same as an apple? Why were items that were bigger lighter than the apple? Why were smaller apples sometimes heavier than larger apples? How many unifix cubes did it take to equal the weight of an apple?
Whales spent time at our storytelling table working together to invent stories about an apple harvest. After Ms. Ellie and Ms. Julie performed an oral storytelling of The Apple Cake (a classic tale by Nienke van Hichtum) Whales took turns acting out the story for friends during classroom choice time.
In addition, Whales continue to learn more about one another as we play the Guess Who? game. We learn more about our friends' likes and dislikes as we study the letters, syllables and spelling of our friends' names.
We're working hard to increase our stamina during silent and partner reading time. Whales are learning to use their linger finger as they read, slowing down and noticing small details in illustration and text. We are practicing stepping through the pages of each book, telling the story to ourselves as we read.
Whales spent time with Ms. Gabie, sharing their opinion about topics related to our classroom community. We worked together to come up with a set of rules that Whales believed made our classroom feel "safe and happy"!
Our first full week together was chock-a-block full of fun! Whales spent mornings visiting our Numeracy Table (where they measured and compared their bodies to sunflowers). Later in the week, the Numeracy Table changed and Whales spent time counting and grouping the sunflower seeds they pulled from the center of our giant sunflower heads - we ended up with 330 seeds! At our Literacy Table, Whales spent time creating our first-letter-sound Alphabet Museum. At our Storytelling Table, Whales worked together to to tell stories of summertime fun. At our ProScope Table, Whales looked closely at the different phases a sunflower goes through. We looked at the stems of sunflowers and compared them to the stems of other flowers. Whales noticed the small holes in the stem of the sunflower, and hypothesized what job they might do. Later in the week, we conducted an experiment with cabbage that showed the process of capillary action and transpiration.
But the sunflower madness didn't stop there! Whales went outside and noticed tiny details in our sunflower garden. They choose their favorite flower, drawing it like a scientist, noticing the shape of the leaves and the color of the ray and disc florets. Whales worked together to re-create the life cycle of the sunflower on the SMARTboard and we watched a video that showed the process of heliotropism and Whales became an entire field of sunflowers, following the path of the sun!
Being the amazing artists that they are, Whales studied the paintings and a bit about the life of Vincent Van Gogh before creating some Van Gogh inspired art using oil pastel and tempera paint. Each one is unique and beautiful!
Along with our sunflower study, Whales spent time getting to know one another better. We built together, danced together, wrote together, and learned special things about each other. Our first week together was filled with joyous fun!