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!

Numeracy Groups & Literacy Groups - Games and Fun!

It's the Whales first week back, and we've hit the ground running! We've been honing our literacy and numeracy skills as we play fun games together. Whales have given the new small group time "two BIG thumbs up!"

Whales' First Author's Celebration!

To celebrate the amazing work the Whales have been doing in Writing Club, we invited some of our biggest fans to come and share our published stories with us. We had a record 100% turnout of adoring parents, family member and friends! Whales proudly showed off their work in understanding the elements of a story, organizing, planning, phonology, phonics, revision, peer editing, illustration, and more. It was a fitting celebration to honor months of hard work and FUN!


Elves At Work

Our Whale classroom has been filled with busy little elves! Through our study of the classic Grimm's fairytale The Elves and the Shoemaker students have explored math, literacy, art and drama. We have been growing their fine motor skills through sketching, painting, sewing and beading as we prepare holiday gifts and beautiful art for our classroom walls. Our skills in literacy and numeracy have been stretched in "wintery ways" as we wrote letters to elves, threw snowballs at sight words, and played games of "Blizzard Take-Away", "Ice and Snow Addition" and "Shoe Shop Sort and Measure"! 

The Story of a Tree

The Whales worked for a solid week, putting together the script and props for their play The Story Of a Tree which they performed in front of a spellbound audience of students at the ELC. The production attempted to provide a basic understanding of how photosynthesis works, how a tree reproduces, and how trees provide humans with the oxygen and energy they need to live. Whales came away with a deeper understanding of the importance of the sun's energy, and how crucial trees are for our survival. In addition, Whales again demonstrated how, "When we work together, we can do great things!"

Please find a video of the entire performance on the Watch and Listen tab above.

More Leaves & Trees!

The Whales classroom was filled with leaf and tree activities this week. Our interdisciplinary study included engineering, art, literacy, numeracy, science, drama and song.  The following provocations were posed to Whales during our classroom choice time: How can you create a tree with blocks and branches that will not fall over in strong wind? Can you create a tree using your hand as the template? Can you label the parts of a tree? Can you work together to find matching leaf varieties? Can you sew around the outside of a variety of leaf shapes? What do you notice about leaves when you look under the ProScope, how are they different and how are they the same? 

Whales performed an experiment that showed the colors hidden within leaves. We found that the green chlorophyll pigment was hiding a red pigment within a maple leaf! Whales worked together to collect and then sort nine different varieties of leaves, classifying them according to size, leaf type and color. Whales presented their findings to their friends. 

Stay tuned for an upcoming play focusing on the life of a tree, and the amazing process of photosynthesis. Whales are currently collaborating on the script and using their imagination to create some pretty amazing props. We are excited to perform the play for other students at the ELC next week!

Whales Explore Leaves and Trees

Whales had a fascinating start to their leaf and tree unit this week. Professor Stacey Halpern (a plant biologist, tree expert, and distinguished Whale mom!) took us on a Tree Talk & Walk across the Pacific University Campus. Whales had a chance to investigate both coniferous and deciduous trees native to the Northwest.  They compared and contrasted the trees and needles of the Douglas Fir, Sequoia and Shore Pine as well as the leaves of the Ginkgo, Oak and Vine Maple. Whales spent time noticing tiny details in shape, texture, color and scent of the leaves and needles. Stay tuned to hear more adventures of Whale dendrologists! 

Halloween Fun With The Whales!

Whales celebrated Halloween with plenty of literacy, art and numeracy fun! The classroom was bubbling over with excitement as students prepped for the big Halloween parade. Elephant and Piggie led the way through the adoring crowds in Berglund Hall.

Sight Words, Addition, and Felicity The Penmanship Fairy!

It's only Wednesday and the Whales have had enough excitement to last the entire week (at least that's what Ms. Ellie and Ms. Julie think)! After spending the morning searching for sight words, playing sight word bingo, and discovering plenty of new ways to make the number seven, Whales got to open a very special package left in our classroom by none other than Felicity The Penmanship Fairy. Along with a special note, she left penmanship books, nifty highlighter pencils, sparkly gel pens, mechanical pencils and some very useful writing dust.