Whale Blog 2015-2016
Whales love to play, and learn - and learn as they play! Even when it's a stormy, windy dramatic day, we venture out; looking for rainbows and puddles. We challenge our bodies to balance on slippery surfaces. We encourage one another to complete tricky obstacle courses we create. We are Whales - and we are strong!
We are, we are, WRITERS! We are, we are, WRITERS! (Now sing it to the tune of We will, we will ROCK YOU!). That's the welcome song Whales did for their parents during our amazing Author's Celebration today.
We have been preparing all week: writing, adding detail, editing, writing, and editing some more! We baked brownies in the morning with Ms. Julie, then spent our Writers Workshop time practicing reading our books to teachers and friends.
Once parents arrived it really felt like a party! We were surrounded by encouragement, pride, and soo much love. We read our newly published work, plus some additional pieces from earlier in the year. What a magnificent day!
Whales spent a lot of time thinking and talking about Dr. Seuss this week. We examined his writing and found that he loved a good rhyme...even if he had to make up the words! We looked at his illustrations and were inspired to build some Seuss-like cities with LEGOS, and create a whole bouquet of Truffula Trees! Many Whale friends signed up to read their favorite Dr. Seuss book out loud to the class - we practiced reading with fluency and feeling!
On Friday Ms. Ellie and Ms. Julie dressed up as Thing 1 and Thing 2, and were joined by extra special guest Charlie Graham who narrated The Cat In The Hat for our Whale Puppet Theater. After the performance, we invited ELC students to perform their own play with theaters and puppets set up around the classroom. A magnificent and truly Seussical day!
Whales have begun a short unit study on teeth and dental hygiene. Teachers and students alike thought it a timely topic with all of the loose/wiggly/falling out teeth we have had in our classroom over the past few months!
We spent time talking about the special characteristics of each kind of tooth and the job they perform as we bite and chew our food. We looked at our own teeth in a mirror, and up close with the use of a Proscope, Using Duplo blocks and yarn, we discovered that the best way to floss our teeth is to move the floss sideways as well as up and down. We measured the teeth of shark, and we wrote letters to the tooth fairy. At the end of the week we performed a science experiment, making predictions about how different liquids would affect the shells of eggs just as they would affect the enamel on our teeth. We were surprised to see how brown soda made the egg, and how quickly the vinegar ate through the shell of our egg - just like plaque can eat through the enamel on our teeth!
During the month of February, several of our Whale students had the chance to become teachers and share the results of their Wonder Monday research. Whale students taught their peers (and teachers!) about what Disneyland looks like, why leaves change color in the fall, and where cavemen came from. Such fascinating topics! Keep wondering (and learning!) together Whales.
The Whales completed final presentations of their migrating animals this week. We looked at the distances the animals traveled, and looked a little more closely at the migration and hibernation of the monarch butterfly. Whales continued to enjoy the migrating birds game, and told lots of new stories at the migration-themed storytelling table. In atelier, we finished up our migrating birds paintings. They are all so unique and beautiful!
Whales have been stretching their numeracy brains, working hard on growing their understanding of part-part-whole relationships, place value, subtraction, addition and even multiplication! Whales love to practice Mingle Math; we "mingle" around the room until Ms. Ellie calls out, "make 18 elbows" or "make 18 fingers". Whales collaborate, reason, negotiate and create moving math with their bodies...what could possibly be better (or more fun) for busy kindergarteners?!
On Friday, Whales helped Ms. Ellie find her lost set of keys. Just prior to a puppet performance given by Ms. Julie (and special guest Ms. Shelley!) Ms. Ellie realized her keys were missing! Thank goodness the Whales were there to help Ms. Ellie by writing down all the "clues" that appeared in the puppet show. Whales watched as the Sneaky E changed clues like pin to pine, rip to ripe, her to here, and so on. In the end, we discovered that the Sneaky E was the one who took Ms. Ellie's keys! As a Whale friend said, "Well, at least now we know that that old Sneaky E just can't be trusted!" Indeed!
Wowza - what an amazing day we celebrated on Friday! After months of waiting, Whales celebrated the 100th Day of School, and Valentines Day with great revelry and fanfare. We have been working all week making the gifts, decorations, and supplies we knew we would need for the celebration. We were sooo excited to arrive and find our classroom brimming with 100 hearts, 100 100's, and lots and lots of special new games and activities for us to enjoy together. During classroom choice we built some pretty amazing structures together using 100 cups. We decorated our 100's glasses, which we proudly wore during our 100 Walk all the way up to the very top of Berglund Hall (we had been itching to do this for a long time!). We were able to count to 100 three times (that was a lot of work!) before returning back to our classroom. We ate a picnic lunch in front of the SMARTboard as we watched a short movie about migration. We played Hot and Cold, we finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we had a Writers Workshop Club book share out, and we ended the day with a Valentine card exchange & delicious cupcakes. Phew! It was the best 100 Hearts Party EVER!!
Whales went for a nice long walk through the university campus during our stretch of warm and dry weather this week. We discovered plenty of sight words written on the ground along our path. Whales loved finding the words on their bingo sheets, and enjoyed sharing funny sentences using the words. We are becoming such amazing readers!
More Whale friends shared information about their migrating animal. We are discovering that animals migrate for many reasons: to have babies, to find food, and to stay warm. We learned that it takes 11 ELC Whales to equal the length of one Humpback Whale, and 13 ELC Whales to equal the length of one Gray Whale. Wow! We are comparing the distances that our animals, insects, fish and birds travel and have agreed that the Sooty Shearwater still travels the farthest. Our completed migration art and map can be seen in our classroom. It looks great!
Whales spent time reading their latest stories to friends in the Dolphins class on Friday. Dolphins were great listeners, and Whales read their stories with plenty of enthusiasm! Later, Whales decided that being a real author means doing things that are exciting, a little uncomfortable, and mostly really fun!
Continuing our Unit Study focus on animals in winter, Whales began to explore how and why animals migrate as the weather changes. Our study has been interdisciplinary; examining the concept through numeracy, literacy, art and physical movement.
Early in the week, Whales used the SMARTboard to sign up for a migrating animal that was of interest to them. The next day, our classroom looked like an artist's studio. We spent quiet time studying our animal in more detail, using an artist's eye to paint beautiful watercolor representations of our animal.
With help from our amazing Whale parents, students researched their animal at home, looking at where their animal began migration, and where it traveled to when the weather became too cold. We have begun sharing details about our animal, and are mapping their journey South. We looked at distances on our map, measuring the travels of each animal and comparing and contrasting our results.
We introduced a new game at our Numeracy Table. We are pretending to be migrating birds! We draw a card that tells us what happens to us on our journey south. Sometimes we catch strong winds that help propel us forward, and sometimes we are slowed down on our journey when we are unable to land in lakes that are polluted and dirty. We use our ruler to measure our progress forward and back. We love the game!
To wrap up our week, Whales went for a geese migration walk (or run!). We talked about the fact that geese fly in a V formation, taking turns being the goose in front. Whales agreed that the goose in the front would "probably have to work the hardest, because being the leader is hard!" We talked about geese using a honking sound (we practiced this A LOT!) to communicate to one another, making sure no one gets off course. When we began our flight, we made sure to fly in a southerly direction, stay in formation, flap our wings like crazy, and HONK, HONK, HONK!
During our hibernation unit, Whales decided it might be fun to explore what it felt like to be a hibernating animal. We split into three groups and the students began constructing a bat cave (and plenty of bats), a bear den (complete with dry leaves and twigs) and the carapace and plastron of three painted turtles they planned to bury in the mud. Ms Ellie and Ms. Julie stepped aside as students worked together to realize their vision of what the various sites might look like. When their sites were finished, they thought it might be fun to share them with the Sharks and Dolphins classes. Whales thought it was exciting (and a little bit scary) to use their voices to be teachers, but they did a great job, and the preschool students were fantastic audience members! The entire process required Whales to use skills in cooperation, problem-solving, public-speaking, numeracy, engineering, imagination and art!
The Whales were lucky enough to be invited upstairs in Berglund Hall to visit Dr. Kerry Mandulak, Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Pacific. Ms. Kerry talked to us about the parts of our body that are crucial to speaking. She called them "Speech Helpers" and Whales learned that they included the tongue, teeth, brain, nose, roof of mouth, lips and lungs. Ms. Kerry explained that our vocal chords are delicate and we need to remember to treat them with care. She talked to us about how important and powerful our voices are for communicating. She reminded us that making eye contact, using all our speech helpers, and listening were crucial for good communication. Whales were transfixed! Thank you Ms. Kerry!
Integrating our unit study on hibernation within numeracy, Whales played a new game this week during classroom choice. We found a partner and took turns guessing how many bears were hidden in a den. Making the concept even more concrete, during numeracy time we became the hibernating bears. Whale mathematicians had to guess how many friends were hiding in the den. We discovered that there were plenty of ways to think about out take-away problems, and Whale friends were happy to share their process with one another. It was fantastic math fun!
Last week the Whales writing club had the special opportunity to visit Ms. Jenni Luckett, Senior Writer and Editor for the Pacific University magazine, Pacific. During their visit, Whales were surprised to hear that professional writers do an awful lot of the same things that they do during their own writing club practice! Ms. Julie shared the following information about Ms. Jenni's presentation.
"Ms. Jenni shared with us that when she sets out to write a story, she gathers all kinds of information. She asks lots of questions from the people she is interviewing and writes down how she feels about the experience. Sometimes, she even tries new things so she can write from personal experience. She told the Whales a wonderful story about rappelling, and how she tried it so she could really write about it with feeling. Ms. Jenni also shared that when she writes something, she re-writes it - sometimes 4 times! Then, she has people edit it for her just to be certain it is correct. Ms. Jenni told us one of the most important tools a writer has is reading. She said that all good writers are big readers and she herself loves reading! As we left Ms. Jenni's office, we met the 2 graphic artists and the photographer that are part of her team. They gifted us a map that they had made of the school and Ms. Jenni gave us a brand-new writing pen."
We came back to the classroom inspired, and ready to continue our own writing practice. Thank you Ms. Jenni!
The Whales learned all about the process of gold jewelry making this week, thanks to the fabulous wonderings of one of their peers. We learned that gold comes from deep inside the earth and when gold is taken from the earth it looks like a rock. We discovered that people must melt the gold with fire before pouring it into some things called molds that help the gold remain in a specific shape. After pouring the gold into the molds, then jewelry makers must polish until it shines. Jewelry makers have to use fire, carving tools, polishers, and more! Each Whale was given a special gold rock from our Wonder Monday presenter. Keep following your wonderings, Whales!