Whales Learn About Sunflowers, and more!

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!

Whales' First Day Goes Swimmingly!

Whales spent a day learning about one another, counting, measuring, graphing, writing, eating (from the ELC garden!), stretching, reading, building, voting, and making lots of new friends. It was a truly spectacular day in the Whales' classroom!

Whales Explore Motion, Force, Gravity and Friction!

Whales performed some hands-on exploration in the properties of physics this week. We took a short walk to the Pacific University gymnasium where we were able to spread out and engage in scientific inquiry using our whole body. We rotated through stations where we explored concepts like push, pull, gravity, motion, force and friction. Physics is great fun!

B Street Trail Field Study

Whales tried out their skills in ornithology, entomology and dendrology on Friday as we walked together to B Street Trail. Once there, students split into five groups and performed BioBlitz activities in open grassy areas, and in the branches of trees; tallying and identifying various arthropods. In another group, students practiced their bird watching skills; identifying a wide range of songbirds and raptors. Using their skills in dendrology; students identified, photographed and sketched various leaves and trees native to the Northwest. When we were tired and thirsty, we ate snack together in the sun. It was a day replete with good friends, gorgeous weather and scientific investigation!

Ho-Hum, Just Another Typical Day With The Whales!

To say that Whales are busy is a bit of an understatement. Whale teachers thought it might be nice to add a blog post that captured a "typical" day in the life of an ELC Whale. The photos don't show our amazing Writing Club, Calendar or Group Numeracy time, but they do capture lots of other important parts of our day!

In the morning, there were tree houses and ponds at the storytelling table, Praying Mantis nymphs to feed and examine at the nature table, Legos to build at engineering carpet, spring blossoms to examine under the Proscope at the technology table, a rousing game of Doubles Spin-O-Rama at the numeracy table, and letter writing to friends at the literacy table...and that's just the first hour!

Later in the day we took a Bird Bingo and Cloud Observation walk. We worked together and identified Black-eyed Juncos, Robins, Crows, House Sparrows, Song Sparrows and more! We saw Cumulus clouds in the sky and celebrated the sunshine.

We built an amazing obstacle course together and helped one another maneuver the extra tricky bits.

We made shapes with our bodies, read books together, enjoyed "camping" together in Creative Play and made silly monsters together in Atelier. It's awfully nice being a Whale!

More Weather With The Whales

Whales have been busy over the past two weeks, learning (and experiencing!) different types of weather. As the rain poured outside, Whales stayed inside and learned about the water cycle and the three different states of matter that water can exist in. After watching an experiment that showed the water cycle, Whales performed a play where they became water. They started by laying on the surface of the ocean, then evaporated into the sky, onto their chairs, condensing into clouds and then falling back again to the surface of the ocean. Later in the week, we completed three different experiments: the water cycle, cloud formation & precipitation, and thunder & lightning! That same week, we read Patricia Palacco's Thundercake and celebrated by making our own Thundercake to eat together.

But our study of weather didn't stop there. Whales were lucky enough to have a visit from a real climatologist who works for NASA! Ms. Elin shared amazing photos and stories about her work in Antarctica and Namibia, and her talk left the Whales utterly captivated! 

Just in time for some very hot weather, Whales studied the sun and the vital role it plays on our weather. As Whales became the earth and sun, they practiced their rotation (getting a better sense of what makes day and night) and their revolution; replicating the journey the earth takes around the sun to make our seasons and mark our years!

Our knowledge of weather doesn't stop there! Whales have been giving a daily weather report to their friends at the ELC. See their videos here:

Whales Explore Wind

What a perfect year to explore the weather! In the past two weeks, Whales have experienced sun, torrential rain, hail, thunder storms, and gale force winds! After studying weather gauging instruments and cloud formation, we have moved on to a study of wind. We talked about what causes wind to form, and what wind does for our earth. We conducted wind experiments; looking at concepts of force and motion as they relate to the movement of objects in wind. We did an experiment and found that air is always all around us, and wind is the movement of that air. We engineered sailboats, trying to come up with the shape and size of sail that kept the boat stable and helped it move quickly across the water. On Wednesday, we performed a play "The Wind Blew" for our Kestrel buddies - a madcap production that left everyone giggling and asking for more! Scroll down to see video of the play.

Poetry Slam with the Otters

After a week of writing poetry, Whales celebrated by asking the Otters to come for a visit. We called our gathering a Poetry Slam. We talked about the history of Poetry Slams and Poetry Readings. We had already discovered that our very best poetry emerged when we wrote about something we felt strongly about, but today we discovered that sharing our writing out loud was even more compelling. It was a celebration of our likes and dislikes, of listening and writing, eating and drinking together. Poetry is powerful!

Whales Explore Weather

Whales began their study of weather this 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. 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!

Whale Writing Club Author's Celebration

We are, we are WRITERS!! On Friday, Whales celebrated their amazing growth as writers with their biggest fans. Whale parents and friends gathered to listen to newly published stories by Whale Authors. Whales have continued to hone their skills in sequencing, elements of a story, character development, adding details, phonics, sight word use, editing, revision, and more! Whales were so proud to be able to read their own writing to such a supportive and happy audience. We ended our celebration with fancy fizzy drinks and cupcakes. Yay Whale Writers!

Whales Explore The Body

Whales spent the last two weeks learning more about their bodies. We were lucky enough to have visits from some parent-teachers who are true experts in human anatomy. We started our unit with a visit from Ali Shapiro, a nurse practitioner and Whale mom. Ms. Ali taught us about the skeletal system. She brought two skeletons for us to investigate, and we spent time talking about what various bones do to help support and protect our bodies.

With so many Whales losing their teeth, it made sense to look more closely at the structure of our teeth, and dental care. Dr. Mario Pedroza and Ms. Barrie paid us a visit and talked to us about how to properly brush our teeth (and gums!), what foods are good for our teeth, and how often we ought to brush. Later in the week we performed a science experiment, hypothesizing what might happen to the shells of eggs left in various liquids overnight. Whales learned that the shells of eggs are a lot like the enamel of our teeth, and we observed that eggs sitting in soda and apple juice became weaker and discolored, while the eggs sitting in water stayed strong and white. We learned about some of the differences between human and animal teeth and discovered that (just like the beaks of birds) the shape and structure of our teeth help us to eat the food we need to survive. No study of teeth would be complete without the Tooth Fairy, so Ms. Julie set up a magical storytelling table where we could tell the story of lost teeth. When our Kestrel buddies came to visit, we wrote a letter to the Tooth Fairy and painted a picture of what she might look like. 

At the end of the week, we were lucky enough to tour Pacific's College of Optometry with Dr. Horn (a Whale dad who happens to be the Associate Dean of Academic Programs in the College of Optometry). Whales got to visit the lab, as well as the Sports Vision Clinic. We learned about parts of the eye (iris, pupil, cornea, lens and optic nerve). Dr. Horn talked about rods and cones; the photoreceptors in the eye that allow us to see, and the way that the optic nerve sends messages to the brain about what we see. He showed us some nifty optical illusions that played tricks on our eyes and brains. We feel like eye experts now!

To finish our unit on the body, we had Aaron Frye (a physical therapist and Whale dad) give us a lesson on the muscular system. Mr. Aaron answered our questions about how muscles work, how they are attached to our bones and how many muscles we have in our body. We learned what the biggest and smallest muscles in our body are, and we practiced some exercises to help strengthen our muscles. We are so lucky to be able to learn with the help of our larger Whale community! 

Leprechauns Visit The Whales Classroom!

Last week the Whale classroom was filled with talk of wee leprechauns and their rascally ways. Students spent Thursday and 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!). As one Whale shared, "Those leprechauns may be small, but they sure know how to make a big mess!" Although no leprechauns stayed trapped long enough for us to talk with them, they did leave a pencil and a single chocolate coin for each student. What a happy St. Patrick's Day!

 

 

Birds!

The Whales finished their study of birds this week (though we're noticing a continued interest in ornithology; with birdwatching happening during our outdoor learning time in the piazza, and out our classroom windows!). With research help from their Kestrel buddies at the Community School, the Whales have completed a beautiful Bird Encyclopedia. The book includes writing and scientific illustrations that inform the reader about bird habitat, diet, nest building, eggs, feet, beaks and more. 

We will unveil the finished book on Wednesday of next week when our Kestrel buddies visit our classroom for a book share. Make sure to ask your Whale student to share information about their Northwest Bird!

Whales Celebrate the 100th Day of School!

What tremendous fun we had as we marked the 100th day of learning and growing together! Whales made 100's posters and paper chains to decorate the classroom on Monday, so it looked like a real party when they arrived this morning. We baked some yummy brownies 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!"

Dr. Seuss Day!

It was a simply wild and silly Suess kind of day! The Whales knew what to expect, and they reveled in the joyousness of the celebration. The Cat In The Hat brought along his special guests Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the Whale classroom was filled with puppet shows and games. What fun!