Whales Say Goodbye

What an exceptional year it has been, and how difficult it is to say goodbye! We had a fantastic, Whale-worthy send-off on Thursday. We performed our final play, Caps For Sale based on the classic book by Esphyr Slobodkina. Whales spent all week making the props and costumes and practicing their lines. We performed the play twice; once for our friends at the ELC, and again for our parents. 

Our day ended with a family celebration. Parents joined us at carpet for a slideshow of our year together (you can find the slideshow by visiting the Watch & Listen tab on the homepage). Following the slideshow, each Whale was presented with a Memory Book. The books told the story of our year together, and all the learning, playing, wondering, exploring and growing we have done together. Happy Summer, 2015-2016 Whales - we will miss you!

Whales receive a visit from Mr. Jon & Little Doug (the tarantula!)

Whales received a special visit from Jon Schnorr (professor of Biology at Pacific) and his pet tarantula, Little Doug. Whales learned plenty of facts about this special arachnid. They can eat small mice, they live in places that are hot and dry & also hot and humid, they don't spin a web but they do produce silk and there is an insect called a tarantula hawk that can actually eat a tarantula! 

Whales spent plenty of time peering into Little Doug's cage and watching him scurry along the bottom of his habitat. What fun!

Celebration Of Learning

The Whale classroom was filled with a sense of accomplishment and celebration as students shared the learning they have been doing this year with interested family and friends. Parents were given a tour that included samples of writing, art, numeracy, reading and a study of life science that included incubating duck eggs, Praying Mantises, a Spiny-Backed Orb Weaver spider, Painted Lady Butterfly chrysalises and Polyphemus Moths. The classroom was abuzz with learning and accomplishment!

Celebrating a Whale Birthday

What revelry and fanfare! Whales joined together to celebrate a summer birthday on Friday. Lantern lighting, crown wearing, chair raising, birthday-song singing, dancing, happy, fun!

A Bug Observation Field Trip

Whales took a field trip to B-Street Trail to explore bug habitats. It was a long walk (30 minutes!) but we were energized and ready to go when we left the school at 9:15 am on Tuesday morning. Once at the trailhead, we ate a quick snack and then went straight off to complete our field study. We saw plenty of insects, myriapods, arachnids and worms. As we searched for bugs, we paid close attention to the environment in which we found them, taking notes for the eventual design of our Whale Bug Hotel. Prior to heading home, we enjoyed rolling down a grassy hill. What a fantastic way to end a morning of learning fun!

The next day, we spent a quiet morning reading and relaxing together. Ms. Ellie showed us a nifty new website on the Smartboard that allowed us to look at lots of different kinds of bugs up close. Meanwhile, one of the Whales noticed that we had 8 new Praying Mantises in our tank. That was super exciting! 

We spent some time the following day becoming Praying Mantises. We were so still and quiet and camouflaged while we sat on our bright green leaf...and then, quick as lightning, we grabbed a nice juicy fly with our hooked and spiked front legs! After we ate, we cleaned our front legs, wiped our eyes and antennae, and got ready to grab the next insect we saw. When we were attacked by a predator, we puffed our wings out and got really big!  

Whales begin a study of insects, bugs & spiders

Whales began looking more closely at the Polyphemus Moths that have been hatching in the atelier over the last two weeks. We took one of the adult moths and a cocoon into the classroom as we explored the life cycle of this beautiful insect. Whales looked at photos of the life cycle up close and discovered how similar their life cycle is to a butterfly's. That same day, the Polyphemus Moth cocoon hatched, and Whales were fascinated as we watched the adult (Whales decided it was a female because of the size of her antennae) hang upside down and allow gravity to pull her wings out. We had plenty of enthusiasm as we completed scientific illustrations of the moths the next day.

As we were studying the colors of the moths for our illustrations, Whales noticed that the female moth was laying eggs! We watched her as she deposited eggs all over the inside of the glass jar she was placed in. It was so intriguing to see the parts of the life cycle happen right before our very eyes!

Later in the week, Whales were introduced to the newest member of our classroom; a Spiny-Backed Orb Weaver spider named Charlotte. We spent lots of time examining her, and created a list of observations that we decided we might want to turn into a "Charlotte Poem". We are excited to take care of her, and will spend the next few weeks talking about insects, spiders and bugs in more detail. Stay tuned for more "buggy stuff" from the Whales!

Wonder Monday - Whales Learn About Rocks!

Whales learned all about rocks this week when one of their friends wondered, "Where do rocks come from?" and "How are rocks made?"

Whales learned that rock comes from inside the earth! We learned that rocks are "formed with lots of heat inside the earth" and that some rock forms as a result of "water, like streams carrying the pieces of rock to other places." We also learned that "rocks are made from minerals!" Our Whale Wonder Monday teacher had visited the Rice Rock Museum to do some of her research. She took lots of photos, and was able to share her rock collection with us. Whales had lots of questions, and had plenty of additional wonderings of their own!

Visiting Ducks

The Whales were introduced to two different breeds of ducks last week. Ms. Amanda and Mr. Terrence brought in a pair of Ancona ducks and Muscovy ducks to waddle around our classroom and say hello! Ms. Amanda answered all the questions we had about how duckling grow, what they eat, how they learn to swim, and more! Even more exciting, Ms. Amanda left us five duck eggs which we are incubating right now. Whales don't know if the ducks we are hatching will be Ancona ducks or Muscovy ducks...or both! As one Whales said, "It's a really exciting mystery!"

Whale Goodbye/Birthday Party

Whales said goodbye to one of their special friends today. We celebrated his birthday with all the proper Whale fanfare. It was truly a day of "happy and sad, all mixed together!"

Whale Weather Reports, Rain Concerts, The Earth & Sun

Whales began reporting on the weather at the ELC. You can now stay abreast of current weather conditions (and get tips on what clothing to wear) by stopping in the entry of the ELC to view the latest televised report! Reports will be loaded onto the bog next week. Stay tuned.

We began a study of the sun and its relationship to the earth, weather patterns, seasons and night & day. Whales went outside and became the sun and the earth. They showed the daily rotation, "This is day for our side of the earth, and when I turn away from the sun, then it's night on our side!" They made a spinning orbit around the sun, calling out the seasons and the days, finally proclaiming, "Now I'm one year older!"

We performed a meditative rain stick concert for our friends in the Shark and Dolphin classes. When we returned to class after the concert, friends shared that it was "very peaceful, calming, and really cool!"



Whales Explore The Water Cycle & Water Conservation

In our continuing exploration of weather, the Whales took a closer look at what happens to water when it falls from clouds as rain, snow or ice. We performed a play that allowed us to become little drops of water! We floated on a blue ocean (the meeting carpet), then began to rise up slowly as we evaporated higher and higher (up onto our chairs!). We condensed together into one big rain cloud, and then fell gently to the ground.

The next day, we had a special guest teacher, Ms. Veronica, who shared many different varieties of trees, and the corresponding seeds from which they sprouted. Whales learned many new things about how trees mature, and the special qualities that make each tree unique. We got to be "seed detectives" and try to match each tree with the correct seed. We also used our high resolution Proscope to search for stomata in the leaves of the trees. We talked about how trees experience a kind of evaporation called transpiration (kind of like when we sweat!) and they play a role in the water cycle too! 

With Earth Day coming up, Whales talked about water conservation. We conducted an experiment to see if we could clean dirty water. We discovered that it's not very easy to clean water once it's dirty. We decided that since the water we have on earth is all the water we'll ever have, we should probably take extra special care of it, and not waste it!

While we were busy studying rain, we made rain sticks! We plan to have a concert for other ELC classes soon. We are pretty sure that all our talk of rain and the water cycle brought on the big storm we had Thursday night, and all the rain we experienced on Friday. That was a good thing since we had an umbrella walk scheduled for the day. After reading the gorgeous book Umbrella, we headed outside to listen to the sound of rain bouncing off our umbrellas. We had to be really quiet to hear the sound, and it was beautiful!

Clouds, Thunder & Lightning!

Whales continued their exploration of weather this week. In our study of cloud formations, we took a cloud walk and spent time looking up at the sky through our Whale Weather Watcher Sky Viewers. We used the viewers to help us decide what type of cloud was in the sky, what the color of the sky was, and what we believed the clouds and sky might tell us about predicting the weather for the day. Whales noticed that the clouds moved in the same direction as the wind, "Look Ms. Ellie! That wind is just pushing those clouds right along!"

Later in the week, we began a study of Thunder and Lightning. Whales discovered that lightning is electricity! We found that the electricity that's made inside a storm cloud is just like the kind of electricity that happens sometimes when we walk across a fuzzy carpet and then get a little zap from a doorknob when we touch it - static electricity! We learned that thunder actually happens when the electricity is released in the cloud from the lightning bolt, and all that hot air and pressure makes a gigantic BOOM when it's released! To help us understand the process even better, we made lots of static electricity by rubbing balloons on our heads. We made enough "lightning electricity" that we were able to light a light bulb! WOW!! After all of us had a chance to see little bits of lightning, we created some booming thunder when we blew up paper bags, filling them with hot air and pressure; and then exploded them with our hands. What a BOOM that was!

That same day, Whales gathered on carpet in the morning and listened to a book by Patricia Polacco called Thundercake. We talked a little about what it feels like to hear thunder and lightning, and what it feels like to do something, even when you are afraid. We closed our eyes and imagined being in a thunder and lightning storm as we listened to the sound of Mr. Mark's thunder instrument. It was exciting! 

After finishing the book, Whales worked together to make Thundercake. We ate it later in the day and decided it must have been the secret ingredients (thunder & smooshed tomatoes!) that made it taste so good!

Planting and Painting Flowers

Whales worked on painting some beautiful, grand, and colorful flowers in atelier this week. They studied pattern, line, shape, color, and pleasing design while creating a free form flower that took up most of the space on the page. Later in the week, the Whales worked to plant their portion of our community Rainbow Garden.  We are excited to see our newly-planted flowers grow and meld with our other ELC friends' plantings; making a spectacular rainbow garden that celebrates our year together!

Wonder Monday & Butterflies

Whales got to share in another friend's wonderings this week! We learned about the butterfly life cycle. We watched an amazing video that captured the process of metamorphosis beautifully. Our Wonder Monday presenter managed to infuse all the Whales with a continued sense of wonder and delight regarding the life of a butterfly.

Wonder Monday, Wonder Wednesday - Whales are teachers!

We had a special week with two Wonder Mondays. One Whale student taught us all about how the alphabet started. It was fascinating! It made the Whales think an awful lot about why they write using the letters that they do!

Our second Wonder Monday happened on a Wednesday. We learned from a Whale student about how houses are built. This Whale shared photos that showed his own house being built. So interesting! 

Each of the presentations sparked lots of questions, and further wonderings by other Whale students. Whales are amazing teachers, and committed researchers!



Poetry Workshop with The Otters

Whales celebrated the art of poetry writing this week with their friends in the Otters class. After enjoying pots of mint tea and freshly baked scones, the Whales gathered to learn about the essential elements of poetry writing; including rhythm, spacing, repeats, exciting endings and more! Poetry writing pairs then moved on to their writing practice where they worked together on creating shape poems (poems written in a shape that reflects the content of the poem). Sharing our writing practice with good friends was amazing fun!

Happy Birthday!

Whales celebrated another birthday this week. We marked the occasion in normal Whale fashion with lantern, placemat, crown, chair raise, dance party and popsicles! Such FUN!!

Whales Explore Wind

Whales began an exploration of wind this week. We learned that warm air rises and air pressure under it reduces and cools air nearby to take its place. Wind is the sideways moving of air and is the cause of changing weather patterns! Whales got into small groups and visited a series of "wind stations". They explored the concept of air (it's all around us!) and began to understand that wind is the movement of air (something we can't see, but is always there!). They experimented with a high power fan, trying to predict which object might move in strong wind, and which would not. Finally, Whales created wind with their bodies; counting to see how many breaths it might take to move a feather, a pencil, or a piece of paper across the floor. 

We wrapped up our study of wind with a play: The Wind Blew. Using a high power fan, the Whales acted out all parts of the book, exploring how various items moved in the wind, and noticing how it felt to stand in very strong wind. There were gales of laughter as Whales worked together to act out the parts, narrate the story and watch, fascinated as items soared in the wind! 

We also spent time in atelier, making pinwheels and wind art. What fun!

Welcoming Spring with Flowers & Poetry!

The Whales came back from Spring Break to a classroom filled with flowers. We spent time exploring how to draw and paint with realism, paying attention to shape, color and detail in the flowers we were capturing with our pen and brush. 

This week we launched a study of poetry in Writers Workshop Club. We spent time noticing aspects of rhythm, word choice, white space (the shape of a poem on the page) use of illustration within text, importance of a title, importance of a catchy ending, and much more. Whales embraced their practice fully; producing poems that were imaginative, beautiful & very clever! 



Engineering, Literacy & Leprechauns!

Whales began the week making elaborate leprechaun traps. After doing a bit of reading, Whales decided that the wee folk loved shiny objects, tiny spaces, bright colors and (most importantly!) leprechauns were able to read. The elaborate traps included detailed instructions, an invitation to stay, or a question for the leprechaun to answer. 

During Whale lunch time, the rascally wee folk visited our classroom - and what a mess they made! We entered to find chairs tipped over, books strewn about, glitter on the floor, and small gifts and notes left near our traps. It was soo exciting!!