Whales Wrap Up Weather

The last two weeks, Whales spent time learning about rain, the water cycle, water conservation, thunder & lightning, and how our sun makes the seasons...PHEW!

To cement our understanding of rain and the water cycle, Whales performed a play together on our big blue carpet. We moved all the chairs into a circle and Whales became drops of water floating on the surface of the ocean. As the heat from the sun made them rise as vapor in the air, Whales rose so high that they stood up on their chairs together, condensing into a giant cloud before falling back to earth as raindrops. What fun! Ms. Ellie performed an experiment which showed the three states of water and Whales spent time looking more deeply at the concept through the proscope during classroom choice.

Whales celebrated our study of rain with an Umbrella Walk. We enjoyed closing our eyes and listening to the sound of the rain on our umbrellas. Our study of rain included time reading and acting out a sampling of Rain Poems. In atelier we spent time making Rain Art and continued our study of wind by making pinwheels. 

No study of weather would be complete without taking a closer look at thunder and lightning. After reading a few books on the subject, Whales tried making their own lightning by creating static electricity with a balloon and their hair. It worked! Whales made enough static electricity to light up a light bulb. To replicate the hot air created inside a cloud during a lightning storm, Whales blew up paper bags and popped them with their fists. BOOM! That same day, Whales read the book Thundercake by Patricia Palacco, then they baked their very own Thundercake with Ms. Julie. It was a celebratory ending to a very exciting day!

With Earth Day coming up, Whales talked a lot about how important it is for us to conserve water. Whales came up with some ideas for how to conserve water at home and at school, then we tried to see if we could clean some very dirty pond water that Ms. Ellie brought from home. We read a book about how cities work to purify their own water and we followed those same steps with the pond water. It worked! We began to see how hard it was to get dirty water clean again!

Whales know that the sun is critical to all our weather systems, and to life on earth. During our final week of our weather unit, Whales became the sun and the earth. We went out into the piazza and practiced rotating, making day and night, and we practiced orbiting the sun to make one year. We spent time looking at a globe in our dark bathroom. We noticed that the earth was tilted on the globe, and that as the earth orbits the sun, different amounts of light and heat fall on our area of the earth, making the seasons. Amazing!

Finally, don't forget to check out the  now-famous Whale Weather Reports on the Watch and Listen tab above. Broadcasts happen daily in the entrance to the ELC. Whales are meteorologists!

More Weather With The Whales

Whales continued their study of weather this week, looking more closely at the power of wind, and the way that cold and warm air interact to make the air move on the surface of the earth. After watching a funny play performed by Ms. Julie and Ms. Ellie, Whales practiced being heavy, bossy cold air pushing light warm air up into the sky to form as clouds above the earth. We learned a new poem, The Windy Day and drew illustrations to help tell the story of the poem. Then we looked for sight words, bossy E, and vowel blends in the text.

After making and sailing our own little boats last week, Whales got to Skype with one of our very own Whale dads (Mr. Stephen) who captains a real sailboat! He gave us a tour of the boat while they were sailing up the Atlantic coast near Florida. We saw how the wind moved the sails and helped turn the boat in the proper direction. Mr. Stephen answered lots of questions about how weather affects his travel on the sea. It was amazing!

To finish off our week, Whales spent time making props and practicing our play The Wind Blew based on the book by Pat Hutchins. The performance was full of windy, wacky fun! To see a video of the performance, look under the Watch and Listen tab above.

Whales Study Weather

Whales began their study of weather last week. We started by simply using our senses to notice things about the weather around us. We went outside and used our eyes to observe the wind moving the trees and flags, and the shape and color of the clouds in the sky. We used our ears to notice the sound of rain on the street and wind in the trees. We used our sense of touch to study the way the the sun felt on our bodies. Then, we practiced using the tools of a weather-watcher: an anemometer to measure wind, a thermometer to measure the temperature, and a rain gauge to measure rainfall. We took a cloud walk and named all the types of clouds that we saw. We learned that clouds carry small droplets of water that attach to dust and other particles in the air, and that different types of clouds can tell us different things about the weather. We noticed that clouds in the sky moved with the wind. Whales discovered that wind is moving air, and that the movement of warm and cool air produces changes in weather. We learned that air is all around us - even inside our classroom! We made wind with our breath, and we spent time predicting what items would move during a strong wind, and what items would not. Whales are excited to learn enough about the weather that they can share their knowings with the ELC during a daily broadcast of Whale Weather Watchers - coming soon!

Whales Family Game Night

Just in time for the Spring Break, Whale families came together to learn new dice and card games that help develop skills in numeracy and executive function. Each Whale family brought home a bag filled with all the items needed to play the new games at home.  It was a night of friendship, family and FUN!


All week the Whale classroom was filled with talk of wee leprechauns and their rascally ways! We spent Friday morning engineering traps and writing letters to the leprechauns that included concrete directions for how to successfully gain entrance to the trap. 

After lunch, the Whales entered the classroom to find it in a real state of disarray. The leprechauns had paid a visit! Chairs were tipped over, our writing station was torn apart and there was glitter everywhere(including the toilets!). Although no leprechauns stayed trapped long enough for us to talk with them, they did leave a lollipop and chocolate mint for each student. Happy St. Patrick's Day, Whales!

Whales Study Forests

In preparation for our trip to the Tillamook Forest, Whales reviewed and expanded on the concepts we learned during our leaf and tree unit. Deepening our understanding of Oregon's unique forest ecology, we looked at what elements are required to produce a coastal temperate rainforest. We studied photos of Pacific Northwest forests and made a list of the plant life we saw. We split the forest into three layers: the forest floor, the understory, and the canopy. Working in teams, we created a mural that included all the plant life we saw in each layer. 

The following day, Whales talked about the unique habitat our Pacific Northwest forests provide for a wide range of species. Students took a moment to place a plethora of native animals and insects in the layers of our forest mural.

It was such fun to visit the Tillamook Forest as budding foresters and dendrologists!



Dr. Seuss Day!

It was a wonderfully wacky Friday, full of rhyming books, painted feet, gooey gak, crazy obstacle courses, green eggs and ham, puppet shows and all the exuberance and magic of Dr. Seuss. Happy Seuss Day Whales!

Whales Study Migration

The Whales completed an extensive study of migration last month. After choosing their favorite migrating animal, Whales executed a detailed painting of it, paying attention to color, shape and size. Students did some extra research at home, looking at the migratory path their animal takes, and noting any special characteristics they could share with their friends. Whales measured their animal's path of migration and logged the length on our distance board. Whale students have spent the last few weeks listening (and trying to replicate!) the sounds of their migrating animals as they shared the information they learned about their animal with their friends. We compared and contrasted migration distances of each animal, paying attention to concepts of shorter and longer as they related to our migration map.

To finish up our unit on migration, Whales took part in a Migratory Bird Obstacle Course. Whales started by making a list of all the things they learned made an impact on animal migration. Whales discovered that many of the problems they listed were caused by humans! As they teamed up to "fly south" in our Creative Play area, the ELC was filled with the sound of chirping, screeching, trilling migratory birds. Every species of bird made the long trip, but they all remarked how hard it was to make the journey with all those extra, dangerous obstacles in their path!

100th Day Celebration!

What tremendous fun we had as we marked the 100th day of learning and growing together! Whales made 100's posters and worked diligently to make and string 100 hearts. The classroom looked so exciting and festive! We baked some yummy cookies with Ms. Julie, engineered amazing structures with 100 paper cups, decorated 100's eyeglasses, created 100's art, wrote 100 words, drew a picture of what we might look like at 100, wrote about what we might be like at 100, did 100 exercises, and counted to 100 4 times as we marched up to the top of Berglund Hall! "Hooray for Hundreds Day!"

Check out the Watch & Listen tab to view a video of the 100's March.

Migrating Geese

Whales began their study of migration last week. At engineering carpet in the morning, Ms. Ellie asked Whales to fold a plain piece of paper so that it would fly. We quickly discovered that a flat piece of paper does not fly at all, and instead drops straight to the ground. The very best shape for a flying machine was a "V" or triangle shape. Whales were pretty sure that was because the point helped "slice through the air". 

Later in the day we spent time looking at geese in flight, and listened to the sounds they make when they fly. We shared our ideas about why geese fly in a v  ("so they can fly better!") and why they make all the honking sounds ("to try to go faster, and to tell their friends where they are").

After all the talk of flying geese, Whales wanted to give it a try! We went out into the campus and flew in a V formation, honking like mad and flapping our wings in the air. After quite a few attempts at flying, Whales decided that being a migrating bird was no easy task. We were tired and ready for lunch!

Check the Watch & Listen tab for a video of the geese migration!

Hibernation Presentations

Whales had a chance to share their knowledge of Northwest hibernating animals this week. After completing detailed research papers and collaborating on the construction of their animal's habitat, Whales presented their findings to an attentive audience of ELC preschoolers. The morning was filled with nervous, but focused activity as we put the finishing touches on our hibernation sites, and practiced our presentations together. Everything came together splendidly, and the Whales rejoiced in their accomplishments. We are Whales - explorers, scientists, engineers, readers, artists, writers, and friends!

Whales Snuggle Down And Hibernate Together!

Whale families gathered for a special night of reading, hibernating, singing and eating cookies together! We donned our special jammies, gathered our favorite blankets, and came to school at night! It was an evening filled with love and sharing. Truly special indeed!

Whales Explore Hibernation

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!