Saturday, October 9, 2021

Patterns Everywhere!

Patterns! Patterns everywhere ... seasonal patterns, weather patterns, grammatical patterns, numerical patterns, even patterns in how we take turns on the playground. With careful monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly observations, these pre-kers have on their science hats and they are looking for patterns. 

Within the last two weeks, the children have observed the chlorophyll beginning to fade away from our favorite maple tree that we visit on our observation walks. We discussed how this happens seasonally. What did it look like in summer? The children agreed, it was all green. More recently, some of the children noticed the top of the maple tree appeared more orange. What do you think is happening? Some children thought that maybe the tree was dying, others recognized that the chlorophyll was fading away from the leaves and the other pigments became more visible. We read about that in the book Why Do Leaves Change Color, by Betsy Maestro. We discussed that the leaves are dying and falling to the ground. When asked what do you think happens to the leaves? LW shared enthusiastically, I think they are rotting and becoming soil! Decomposing!

The children also look and listen for patterns in literature. 

 We see patterns in numbers through skip-counting, on the calendar, and we create complex patterns with materials such as cubes and Dominos. 

We think there are endless patterns in nature; patterns not only visually present in the structure of the plant, but also in the life-cycle. Seeds from these sunflowers have been harvested for spring planting.

 The children have been tracking and graphing weather, which helps us plan on what to wear for recess.

There are patterns in structures and in taking turns - your turn! My turn!  

These two are organizing the store and getting ready to sell the food they harvested.

Where else do you see patterns? 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Harvest Season

We are well into our harvest season and the children have been exploring the natural world to find the Fibonacci sequence of numbers.  

Last week, we cut apples into halves horizontally to reveal the sequential number 5 of the Fibonacci number pattern. The children observed, while labeling the parts of the apple, that if the apple is cut horizontally, between the stem and blossom end, only then can one see the center pattern in the apple that creates a 5-pointed star. The children discovered that it did not matter what kind of apple we cut, the star was always at the core, provided we didn’t cut the apple vertically, from stem to blossom end. Many children discovered there were lots of seeds in the seed compartments, but the 5-pointed star was always present.

The children listed all the many ways to enjoy apples, including applesauce. They took turns coring, spiraling, and peeling the apples and we boiled the apples until they became sauce.

 After a unanimous vote, we added cinnamon and indulged.

Marble painting was a fun way to incorporate primary and secondary colors while discussing pigments. Reds and yellows and greens were most often found in the apples. When the children described our apples, they noticed they are not just red, but red, yellow, green, and even pink. One child observed, "the fleshy parts are always the same color." 

And...  Mr. Alligator says, don't forget to dress for the weather! 

Friday, September 17, 2021

What Do You Wonder About the Sunflower?

To excite curiosity in the children – which truthfully is easy to do in these kids – a head of a freshly cut sunflower was placed on each of their tables. Quick to notice the small details, the children described and drew the attributes of a sunflower.

MT- Sunflowers have leaves and sunflowers have petals, too.

They continued to observe the heads for changes. As the appearance of the sunflowers subtly changed, curiosity and questions increased. I asked the children, what do you wonder? They answered:

I wonder…

MT- Why does the sunflower have petals?

DW- Why does the sunflower have green leaves?

DS- Why the sunflower has polka dots?

EW- Why is the sunflower yellow?

MH- Why the sunflower has teeny-tiny flowers?

MH- are the flowers really dying? Nobody watered the sunflowers.


What changes do you see?

DW- They are wrinkly and they are starting to get dry. Because they have been sitting in our (tables) for a long time. The tiny florets look brownIt smells like a regular flower.

MA- I see the mold. This petal is on top of the mold.


What is under the florets?

I see/think... 

MT- Green things.

MA- Leaves.

MH- The tiny petals are falling off the sunflower.

LW- I’m really looking under them to see what is under them. It's white and yellow stuff.

DW- White pollen.

MH- Little tiny blacks.

LW- I see white pollen.

It will be interesting to see what the children discover over the next week!

We listened to a short story about a boy who wanted to plant a sunflower garden in the shade, so he and his father decided to do an experiment. They planted sunflowers in the sun and the shade. Our children discussed what they thought would happen. Would they all grow? As a class, the children answered, yes, and they were right! All of the flowers grew, just not in the same way. 

I asked, what did you notice about the sunflowers in the sun verses the sunflowers in the shade? 

EW- Some are bigger, because they were more in the sun.

MH- The bigger flowers are yellow and brown. The little ones are not all yellow and brown.

The boy and his father observed the sunflowers in the morning and in the afternoon. I asked our class, what do you notice about the sunflowers in the morning compared to the same sunflowers in the afternoon? 

EW- It is pointing a different way?

MH- Because it has an abra, abra means it turns this way and this one is turning this way.

MA- Something is at the bottom and something is at the top.

In our classroom, we observe carefully for details and watch for changes. Like Mary Anning and Galileo, we watch, wonder, and explore deeper, just like scientists. 

Friday, September 3, 2021

Attributes of a Sunflower

We kicked off the school year by exploring sunflowers and listing some of their attributes. I asked the children, what do you see? Curious pre-k students used magnifying glasses and started to explore. The children first listed: yellow, green, brown, black; the children quickly moved on to shapes: circles, dots, triangles, and then the conversation took a turn ... 

"Is it dead?" The children started to ask questions about the life of the sunflower and where it came from. Hmm ... I wonder? 

What do you see?  “A big bunchy sunflower; bunchy means – big, huge. So there is one in front that is dying. I think it's dying because all of the petals are turning brown. They are starting to be brown because you are not watering them.” LM

As the children shared what they thought the sunflower needed to live, a livelier topic emerged from several of the sunflower heads. Several arachnids and a few bugs joined us as well. 
"I see spiders." DS  And she sure did! The children calmly observed the animals and how they hid inside the flowers. 

Curiosity about the symbiotic relationships between plants and animals naturally progressed. “The honeybees go to the flower, then they get the pollen and then they go to the hive to get the honey.” LM
We only just started our conversations about the flower heads. As the florets shrivel away, the seeds will start to appear. Some of the children are already noticing the patterns on the petals. As the florets shrivel up, the seeds will be uncovered and our conversations about geometry and patterning will follow. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Earth Day

During the week of Earth Day, pre-k saved single-use items and discarded packaging from snacks and lunches, most of which still had plenty of food inside. As the collection grew, we discussed what we saw in the tub. There were many applesauce pouches, string cheese wrappers, and assorted types of chips and cracker bags. I asked the children, what can we do to make a difference in the amount of waste we create? “We could eat an apple instead.” What a great solution and it’s so easy and fast to pack! As well as being easy to pack and with no packaging, it’s one of the healthiest things you can eat. I asked the children to list other foods free of packaging: apples, pears, oranges, bananas, strawberries (we decided strawberries can be sent in a reusable container) offered a good start.

Some surprising discoveries: as I sifted through the garbage with the children, I discovered that most of the packaged food packages were more than half full, especially applesauce packs and other assorted pouches, as well as snack crackers and Pirate Booty.  So, along with producing less garbage, we could save money on foods that are not really being eaten. If a child doesn’t eat a whole apple, the only waste is an apple which will decompose and remain a purposeful part of our Earth.

It can all feel overwhelming; however, do you know what is super cool?! Every child in our classroom shared what they are already doing to help the Earth. They listed or showed their reusable water bottles, reusable lunchboxes, reusable containers, reusable/biodegradable straws, reusable napkins, and took turns holding up foods, like oranges, to show that they understand how easy it really is.  

We are doing great! And we can do even better! Every day is Earth Day! 


During STEAM time, children choose work freely from a variety of purposeful activities, as shown in the pictures below. 

"build something symmetrical"

"trace the sandpaper number 8; make the number 8 with a ribbon"

"build something long"

Patterns Everywhere!

Patterns! Patterns everywhere ... seasonal patterns, weather patterns, grammatical patterns, numerical patterns, even patterns in how we tak...