Whales Are Birders!

Whales have been busy the last three weeks delving deep into the fascinating world of birds. Students started their investigation by choosing a bird common to the Pacific Flyway. Students spent time examining “their” bird, looking closely at its habitat, diet, calls, beak & feet shape, and coloring. We drew and painted our birds, creating beautiful scientific illustrations that aptly represented the bird’s particular shape, color, size and habitat. As each Whale student presented their research, their friends shared exclamations of wonder and delight. The Whales were hooked! The following weeks were filled with the talk of budding ornithologists.

Our study continued as we spent time learning more about the one thing that sets birds apart from other animals - feathers! We looked at feathers under our Proscope, noticing the structural differences between downy, contour and flight feathers. We conducted experiments on water repellency and the wind resistance of certain types of feathers. We also played a matching game that required us to notice the types of beaks and feet distinct to various bird species.

As we discovered more about the special qualities of a bird’s beak and feet, we began to notice that birds had bodies that were really made to help them survive in their particular habitat, and birds can do some pretty amazing things. We decided to try our hand at becoming a variety of different bird species. With the help of plenty of Whale parents, we held an exciting day of Bird Olympics. We tried to stare for hours without blinking like owls, stand on one foot (with our eyes closed!) like Great Blue Herons, flap our “wings” as quickly as an Anna’s Hummingbird, “fly” as fast as an American Kestrel, and measure our own wingspan against that of a Bald Eagle. We decided being a bird was lots of fun, but it wasn’t easy!

The more we learned about birds, the more we were itching to see them up close. Thanks to some pretty amazing Whale parents who are biology professors and ornithologists, Whales were given the opportunity to visit our local wetlands and get a glimpse of many of the birds we were studying. The excitement was palpable as we boarded our (very first!) school bus, and headed to Fernhill Wetlands. The weather could not have been more perfect, and the number of birds we saw was simply thrilling. What a magical day of birding adventure!

As we watched huge flocks of birds flying overhead at Fernhill, we began to wonder about where all those birds were going. We explored the concept of migration and discovered that many birds had to travel south in search of warmer weather and a more abundant food supply. We talked about how mysterious the act of migration is, and how difficult and dangerous it can be for birds and other animals. Later in the week, we tried our hand at becoming migrating birds and discovered that it was fun and extremely tiring! After running our Migration Obstacle Course, we spent some time exchanging ideas of ways we could make migration easier for birds. Some of the ideas we came up with were “Don’t cut down trees”, “Leave food in feeders for them”, “Don’t build buildings over wetlands”, “Don’t put trash in our water!”. Whales made bird feeders in atelier, placed them in the piazza and then noticed a Hairy Woodpecker visiting the feeders later in the week. What fun!

At the end of the week, Whales compiled a list of lingering questions for our ornithologist and biologists, Mr. Gregor and Ms. Lauren. Whales sat rapt listening to answers to their questions about migration, feather color, egg color and bird anatomy. Whales have become bird experts!








Whales Plant Native Species at B Street Trail

With help from our amazing community of parents, the Whales completed their first service project of the year. After a brisk walk early in the morning, Whales rolled up their sleeves and got to work planting over 300 plugs of Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), Eriophyllum lanatum (Oregon Sunshine), and Potentilla gracilis (Cinquefoil) for Clean Water Services. On our walk to and fro, we practiced our skills in dendrology, noticing and naming a wide variety of trees that looked familiar to us. We spent the remainder of the day reveling in all the good we did for our earth!

Whales Study Leaves & Trees

Whales have been busy honing their skills in phenology and dendrology over the past two weeks. We started by noticing tiny details in the life cycle of three different trees in our new Cedar Classroom. We noticed where the trees were in their life cycle by looking for clues like needle and cone drop, leaf drop, or new growth. We talked about how a tree’s life cycle relates to the seasons. We sent our phenology findings to BudBurst, an online community of researchers, horticulturists, and citizen scientists working together to uncover the stories of plants and trees and how they are being affected by our changing climate.

Like true dendrologists, the Whales took long walks through the Pacific campus, examining tiny details in deciduous and coniferous trees. Working together, we spent time classifying and sorting a wide variety of leaves. At engineering carpet, we worked in pairs to plan, construct and test our handmade tree trunk. Our structure had to support branches, even in a strong wind!

Working like scientific illustrators, Whales sketched and painted a coniferous or deciduous tree, noticing detail in trunk, crown and leaf shape.

Whales talked about the process of photosynthesis, and the shared relationship between sunlight, trees, and all life on earth. We are so excited to be engaging in our first service project of the year next week. We will plant trees at B Street Trail!

In addition to all that learning, we celebrated Halloween together with a fabulous ELC parade! Happy Fall!


Celebration Of Community With The Whales

Whale families got cozy together and celebrated the learning, magic and love that has already taken root in our classroom - after a mere 36 days of school! Our classroom was filled with the accomplishments of our Whale students and the pride and love of the community that surrounds them. Whale students were gracious hosts, patiently explaining how their “school home” ticks, and proudly showing their work as budding scientists, authors, readers, mathematicians, artists and actors. We can only imagine the amazing learning yet to come!

Goldilocks And The Three Bears

Whales produced and performed their first play of the year last week! Adoring audience members from the Shark, Dolphin and Otters classes sat rapt as they watched their Whale friends re-tell the classic story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears.

Whale students spent weeks exploring different versions of the tale. They studied the elements of the story, picking out the characters, setting, and beginning middle and end. They focused on the problems and solutions in the story and concluded that Goldilocks left an awful lot of problems unresolved. Whales read the story out loud together, practiced telling the story with puppets, and sang the story in song.

They engineered a new chair for baby bear at Engineering Carpet, working in teams to plan, construct and test a chair that could hold their own weight.

The Whales made porridge (with lots of honey) and found that the majority of students liked it, and it was “just like oatmeal!”

In preparation for the play, Whales created props and backdrops, chose costumes and worked together as stage hands to move heavy items in creative play, allowing room for the actors to perform. The final performance asked the Whales to stretch their skills in collaboration, compromise, planning, storytelling, and public speaking. It was a smashing success!

Photos of the process and production can be found below. To view a video of the final play, please visit the “Watch and Listen” tab above.

 

Matisse Apples and Tie Dye Fun!

The Whales spent time exploring the art of Matisse this week. We studied his art, looking at the way he used color, shape, line and shadow to tell a story and evoke a particular mood. Whales tried using oil pastel to create shadow and depth in their paintings. Our “shadow fingers” were completely black by the end, but we didn’t mind - we felt like Matisse!

Whales ended their week with a long-held ELC tradition - creating our own tie-dye tees! Mr. Mark mixed up some beautiful, vibrant colors and we squeezed the rich dye onto every square inch of our tees. With the help of plenty of parent volunteers, our tie-dying was a HUGE success. we can’t wait to see the finished product on Monday!

Apples, the Cedar Classroom and More!

Whales spent time investigating the inside of apples this week. We noticed right away that “something was living inside our apples”. After sharing some hypotheses about what might be causing the problem “a worm”, “a slug”, “some dirt”, “a moth”, Whales learned that the problem was caused by the Apple Codling Moth, an insect whose larva eats the flesh of an apple. After studying the life cycle of the moth more closely, Whales came up with some solutions for how to solve our apple moth problem. They spent time making traps and cleaning up the dead leaves and apples under our trees. Whales are scientists and engineers!

Other apple-y things we did included engineering towers with apples and toothpicks, counting how many apples we could balance on our heads…and how many mindful steps we could take without them tumbling off. Whales showed amazing precision and grace with both activities!

On Friday we held an Apple Tasting and discovered that the 2018-2019 Whales love Honeycrisp apples the best!

Whales had a chance to visit the new Cedar Classroom three times this week. They climbed and jumped and balanced and discovered the amazing space along with their Otter friends!






Whales Study Apples

The Whales have been learning to study the world around them with mindful eyes, mindful ears (a.k.a. Listening Like a Ninja) and mindful bodies. We took this mindfulness practice with us as we explored the apples growing in our piazza this week. We noticed tiny details, and recorded and shared those details with friends. We made hypotheses about why many of our apples have small holes in them. We cut them open and looked inside using our Proscope. Whales think “something might be living in them!”.

We listened to an oral storytelling of the book The Apple Cake by Nienke van Hitchum - a story of kindness and sharing. We spent time acting out the story, remembering the tiny details and and sequence of events so we could share it with friends.

We used our engineering skills to build amazing structures out of apples and toothpicks. We tried to make our apple towers tall and strong!

Whales played some new math games this week that strengthened our number sense and helped make us number detectives!

And finally, Whales have been growing their reading brains as they stretch and improve their stamina for sitting with a book. We have been using our Linger Finger to tell the story on our own by noticing tiny details in the pictures. Whales are joyous readers!





Week One Was Wonderful With Whales!

The Whales' first week was chock-full of so much learning and fun, it's impossible to write it all down, but here's a sampling!

We measured, examined, drew and shared our scientific observations of sunflowers during our first field study in the piazza. We wrote, mailed and delivered letters to our friends. We told stories about sunflower gardens and happy summer days at our storytelling table. We spent time finding out about our common likes and dislikes, while celebrating our names during our Guess Who? game. We built with blue blocks, read plenty of books (we read silently for three whole minutes!) and had our very first Whale Writers Workshop! On Friday we talked about listening, being mindful of the sounds around us and our responses to them. We took a Listening Walk and discovered we could hear things we'd never heard before by being silent together.

Whales' First Day Goes Swimmingly!

Whales spent a day learning about one another. We spent time counting, measuring, graphing, writing, learning about the brain, meditating, reading, building, voting, and making lots of new friends. We ended our day with a trip to the new Cedar Classroom, where the Otters gave us an extra special VIP tour!

Make sure to check your Kindergarten Handbook for more information on our daily schedule!