We spent the morning engineering elaborate traps to catch the wee folk who have been known to visit the Whales’ classroom and make an awful mess. With friendly letters and enticing shimmery loot hidden in their traps, this year’s Whales were confident they would catch one. While we were working away, a wee leprechaun ran across our easel, leaving a taunting message “Ha, ha, ha! Where’s me gold? You won’t catch me!” Undaunted, the Whales continued to work on their traps. After lunch, we got ready to move into our classroom when Ms. Julie announced that some naughtiness had ensued. We ran into the classroom and found a horrible mess! Those rascals had toppled over chairs, threw pens and pencils on the ground, pulled books from our book baskets, and left glitter and confetti everywhere! They left us chocolate coins, but we failed to catch a single one. Ms. Ellie and Ms. Julie are hoping next year’s Whales might be successful. Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
Welcome to the Early Learning Community at Pacific University
We invite you to explore our site and enjoy this reflection of our school life.
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Whales began their exploration of the human body last week. We started our study by looking closely at our teeth and mouths. Whales spent a lot of time looking in their own mouths, noticing the ways their teeth are changing, and comparing their teeth to those of other mammals. We were lucky enough to have a visit from one of our own Whale parents, Ms. Ashli. Ms. Ashli is a dental hygienist and she shared facts about the way our teeth grow, how to care for our teeth and some fascinating facts about our tongues! We spent time practicing how to floss with Duplo blocks and playdough, we told stories about the Tooth Fairy, wrote letters to her, and painted a picture of her.
In addition, the Whales were treated to a special visit from Dr. Searcy (professor in the Exercise Science department at Pacific) and one of his teaching assistants. Dr. Searcy brought a human skeleton, along with a torso model that gave Whales a glimpse into the inner workings of their own bodies. Whales had endless questions about the digestive system, the circulatory system and more.
Later in the week, Whales did some more exploration of their own skeleton, pairing up and trying to locate their friend’s vertebrae, clavicle, humerus, mandible, ribs, pelvis, sacrum, femur and more! It was some good tickly fun!
On Thursday, the Whales again chose a partner and worked to trace the outline of one another’s bodies. Then they got busy gluing the skeletal bones to all the right places on their traced bodies. We plan to label them like scientists next week!
Whales donned their jammies and arrived to school ready to celebrate with all kinds of Seussical fun! They were greeted at the door of the Whales’ classroom by Thing 1, Thing 2 and Cat In The Hat. Where had Ms. Ellie, Ms. Julie and Ms. Emily run off to? No matter, they had fun all morning long eating green eggs and ham, watching puppet shows, reading Dr. Seuss books, completing silly Seuss obstacle courses, playing with oobleck, painting their feet and having a stupendously good time. It was another fabulous Dr. Seuss Day at the ELC. What fun!
Hooray for counting by ones, fives and tens. Hooray for marching to the tippy-top of Berglund Hall. Hooray for writing 100 words. Hooray for pretending to be 100 years old. Hooray for building with 100 cups. Hooray for Valentines. Hooray for glow-in-the-dark dance parties in the bathroom. Hooray for 100 days of love in the Whale classroom!
Whales are getting ready for the 100 Hearts Party we will be throwing next week. The 100th Day of School happens to coincide with Valentines Day - what fun! Whales were busy in the morning working on 100’s charts, practicing their math skills in preparation for the celebration. Along with that, we’ve been doing LOTS of reading from our book bags, looking at the power of Sneaky E, and practicing our sight word and phonics skills during morning letter.
Whales were thrilled to end their week with a session of sharing with Ms. Julie. We’re so happy she’s back!
Whales presented their research on hibernating animals of the Pacific Northwest to a rapt audience of ELC preschoolers on Thursday. It was fun to share our knowledge of hibernating Black Bears, Little Brown Bats, Northwest Painted Turtles and Common Garter Snakes with our preschool friends. Whales enjoyed answering additional questions as their friends explored the hibernation sites we had built in Creative Play. Whales are scientists and teachers!
Whale students arrived with parents, grandparents and siblings in tow to experience a magical evening filled with candlight, cookies, hot chocolate, books and song. Our quiet celebration started with peaceful songs led by Ms. Shelley, followed by a reading of Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon by Ms. Ellie. Families explored our classroom library, reading books as they munched on cookies and drank hot chocolate together. The Whales love family, reading, cookies, snuggling and fun!
To see video of the magical beginning of our evening together, go to the Watch & Listen tab above.
Whales have been stretching their math brains this week with lots of fun games and activities that helped us more deeply understand the concept of place value. We played Teen Bingo (and got to do the Bingo Dance when we won!). We played Make That Number with unifix cubes, building all the ten sticks and ones in a number. We played Musical Chairs, counting by two’s and trying to estimate how many chairs teachers would need to remove if every Whale had to share a chair with a friend. We tried out our new extra-large number line and are looking forward to using it for lots of gross motor math like hopping addition and subtraction, counting by two’s, five’s, ten’s - and more! We practiced our new daily sign in that will begin next week - Scrabble-Sight-Word-Addition. It’s challenging and fun! Our first week back was filled with joy and togetherness!
The Whales’ first Authors Celebration was a smashing success! Families gathered to share in the amazing development of our young writers. We toasted their growing skills in composition, storytelling, writing, illustration and editing. Three cheers for Whale Authors, and their supportive and loving families!
Whales have been busy the last three weeks delving deep into the fascinating world of birds. Students started their investigation by choosing a bird common to the Pacific Flyway. Students spent time examining “their” bird, looking closely at its habitat, diet, calls, beak & feet shape, and coloring. We drew and painted our birds, creating beautiful scientific illustrations that aptly represented the bird’s particular shape, color, size and habitat. As each Whale student presented their research, their friends shared exclamations of wonder and delight. The Whales were hooked! The following weeks were filled with the talk of budding ornithologists.
Our study continued as we spent time learning more about the one thing that sets birds apart from other animals - feathers! We looked at feathers under our Proscope, noticing the structural differences between downy, contour and flight feathers. We conducted experiments on water repellency and the wind resistance of certain types of feathers. We also played a matching game that required us to notice the types of beaks and feet distinct to various bird species.
As we discovered more about the special qualities of a bird’s beak and feet, we began to notice that birds had bodies that were really made to help them survive in their particular habitat, and birds can do some pretty amazing things. We decided to try our hand at becoming a variety of different bird species. With the help of plenty of Whale parents, we held an exciting day of Bird Olympics. We tried to stare for hours without blinking like owls, stand on one foot (with our eyes closed!) like Great Blue Herons, flap our “wings” as quickly as an Anna’s Hummingbird, “fly” as fast as an American Kestrel, and measure our own wingspan against that of a Bald Eagle. We decided being a bird was lots of fun, but it wasn’t easy!
The more we learned about birds, the more we were itching to see them up close. Thanks to some pretty amazing Whale parents who are biology professors and ornithologists, Whales were given the opportunity to visit our local wetlands and get a glimpse of many of the birds we were studying. The excitement was palpable as we boarded our (very first!) school bus, and headed to Fernhill Wetlands. The weather could not have been more perfect, and the number of birds we saw was simply thrilling. What a magical day of birding adventure!
As we watched huge flocks of birds flying overhead at Fernhill, we began to wonder about where all those birds were going. We explored the concept of migration and discovered that many birds had to travel south in search of warmer weather and a more abundant food supply. We talked about how mysterious the act of migration is, and how difficult and dangerous it can be for birds and other animals. Later in the week, we tried our hand at becoming migrating birds and discovered that it was fun and extremely tiring! After running our Migration Obstacle Course, we spent some time exchanging ideas of ways we could make migration easier for birds. Some of the ideas we came up with were “Don’t cut down trees”, “Leave food in feeders for them”, “Don’t build buildings over wetlands”, “Don’t put trash in our water!”. Whales made bird feeders in atelier, placed them in the piazza and then noticed a Hairy Woodpecker visiting the feeders later in the week. What fun!
At the end of the week, Whales compiled a list of lingering questions for our ornithologist and biologists, Mr. Gregor and Ms. Lauren. Whales sat rapt listening to answers to their questions about migration, feather color, egg color and bird anatomy. Whales have become bird experts!
With help from our amazing community of parents, the Whales completed their first service project of the year. After a brisk walk early in the morning, Whales rolled up their sleeves and got to work planting over 300 plugs of Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), Eriophyllum lanatum (Oregon Sunshine), and Potentilla gracilis (Cinquefoil) for Clean Water Services. On our walk to and fro, we practiced our skills in dendrology, noticing and naming a wide variety of trees that looked familiar to us. We spent the remainder of the day reveling in all the good we did for our earth!
Whales have been busy honing their skills in phenology and dendrology over the past two weeks. We started by noticing tiny details in the life cycle of three different trees in our new Cedar Classroom. We noticed where the trees were in their life cycle by looking for clues like needle and cone drop, leaf drop, or new growth. We talked about how a tree’s life cycle relates to the seasons. We sent our phenology findings to BudBurst, an online community of researchers, horticulturists, and citizen scientists working together to uncover the stories of plants and trees and how they are being affected by our changing climate.
Like true dendrologists, the Whales took long walks through the Pacific campus, examining tiny details in deciduous and coniferous trees. Working together, we spent time classifying and sorting a wide variety of leaves. At engineering carpet, we worked in pairs to plan, construct and test our handmade tree trunk. Our structure had to support branches, even in a strong wind!
Working like scientific illustrators, Whales sketched and painted a coniferous or deciduous tree, noticing detail in trunk, crown and leaf shape.
Whales talked about the process of photosynthesis, and the shared relationship between sunlight, trees, and all life on earth. We are so excited to be engaging in our first service project of the year next week. We will plant trees at B Street Trail!
In addition to all that learning, we celebrated Halloween together with a fabulous ELC parade! Happy Fall!
Whale families got cozy together and celebrated the learning, magic and love that has already taken root in our classroom - after a mere 36 days of school! Our classroom was filled with the accomplishments of our Whale students and the pride and love of the community that surrounds them. Whale students were gracious hosts, patiently explaining how their “school home” ticks, and proudly showing their work as budding scientists, authors, readers, mathematicians, artists and actors. We can only imagine the amazing learning yet to come!
Whales produced and performed their first play of the year last week! Adoring audience members from the Shark, Dolphin and Otters classes sat rapt as they watched their Whale friends re-tell the classic story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears.
Whale students spent weeks exploring different versions of the tale. They studied the elements of the story, picking out the characters, setting, and beginning middle and end. They focused on the problems and solutions in the story and concluded that Goldilocks left an awful lot of problems unresolved. Whales read the story out loud together, practiced telling the story with puppets, and sang the story in song.
They engineered a new chair for baby bear at Engineering Carpet, working in teams to plan, construct and test a chair that could hold their own weight.
The Whales made porridge (with lots of honey) and found that the majority of students liked it, and it was “just like oatmeal!”
In preparation for the play, Whales created props and backdrops, chose costumes and worked together as stage hands to move heavy items in creative play, allowing room for the actors to perform. The final performance asked the Whales to stretch their skills in collaboration, compromise, planning, storytelling, and public speaking. It was a smashing success!
Photos of the process and production can be found below. To view a video of the final play, please visit the “Watch and Listen” tab above.