Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Gift Of An Acorn

Nature's Collections

"The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each year the two beautiful oak trees in our schoolyard bring a bounty of acorns. The season of autumn bears many gifts such as the changing colour of the leaves, the production of seeds on so many plants and trees, birds migrating and so many other wonderful moments. The children began noticing some of these seasonal changes and began to point them out to us. We were excited for them to begin to share their thinking around these ideas. 

After filling the sensory bin with acorns we provided a few tools to assist the children with their explorations. They eagerly worked with the acorns and shared their ideas with peers as they scooped the acorns into the wooden bowls. The children noticed many details about the acorns and shared these ideas readily. This was the beginning of our initial observations with the acorns and we allowed the children time to use all of their senses to explore their acorn collection.

When we are first beginning an inquiry or investigation with the children we often give them many varied opportunities to observe and share their thinking and ideas. After working in the sensory bin for a few days we created this invitation to look closely at the tables. Bringing a small group of children to the table to explore the acorns. This gave us new thinking and the children shared their ideas and previous knowledge about acorns with each other. One of the greatest gifts of emergent curriculum and inquiry based learning is that  ultimately the children take ownership over their learning and really beginning to teach each other as they develop the skills to become life long learners. 

Providing the children with a variety of ways to express their thinking is an important part of our early years program. Some children may be more adept at verbally sharing their thinking while others may show their understanding through a drawing. This invitation to create observational art using the acorns as inspiration was greeted with enthusiasm by the children. Each child approached this creative task with their own interpretation of the acorns.

A Space for Further Reflection

The inquiry table became a place for wonderings and further investigation around acorns. The children explored the texts provided and used the materials offered to develop their ideas and we observed and recorded their work here for further reflection. As educators we use these moments to plan with the children our next steps within the classroom. 

The children never cease to amaze me with how they work with the materials provided. I placed a photo of our oak trees at the inquiry space. How appropriate it was for this child to pick the mirror up and use it to observe the reflection of the photo. Such a beautiful way of looking closer. 

We shared the book, "From Acorn to Oak Tree" with the children during shared learning time. After reading the book one of the children stated, "The acorns turn into big oak trees. There are different types of oak trees so there are different kinds of acorns." This prompted a search for a variety of acorn types. I collected a few and brought them in for the children. This week we will plant some of the acorns to see if they grow. The children look forward to seeing what happens. They have shared an understanding that we will have to water the acorns and that they need soil. We look forward to continuing this interest and sharing our explorations with you. We wonder if our acorns will grow? 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Creating A Community

Reflections of September
The first month of school has come to a busy end. September was filled with new beginnings and the start of the creation of our classroom community. The children readily explored the classroom and all of our learning invitations that we so carefully and purposefully set out for them. They enthusiastically began their learning journey. September is also a time to support the children as they become familiar with classroom routines and a new environment. We have focussed on becoming a community of learners. The children have learned about mindful awareness and the parts of the brain through the "The Mindup Curriculum - Brain-Focused Strategies for Learning - and Living."  We have practiced our core breathing daily developing focus and an awareness of mindful behaviour. We will continue to celebrate mindfulness within our community of learners throughout the year.
"There are only two lasting bequests 
we can hope to give our children.
One of these is roots;
the other, wings"
Hodding Carter


We are excited to share with you some of the children's initial investigations of the classroom from during their play block time. This is their work, their ideas and their creativity coming to life each day. We are honoured to help them share their thinking and celebrate their ideas.
Building Friendships

The children loved the book, "Stick and Stone." It is a wonderful story about friendship. It was exciting to see some of our S.K. friends make those first attempts at reading the text themselves. The children also used the loose parts tray of sticks, stones and a pinecone to retell the story in their own words.
Explorations in Math 

This invitation to work with the wooden numbers and glass pebbles was visited by many of the children. They used our number rocks from the math shelf and matched them to the wooden numbers. This was our first shared learning experience that was presented to the class.

The basket of shapes from the math shelf was used to create a picture. Then we listened as the story to accompany the picture was told. As well, it was an opportunity to discuss some of the attributes of the shapes that were chosen.
Light Panel Discoveries

The light panel is one of my favourite learning areas in the classroom. It lends itself to a new way of looking at familiar materials. The children discovered the colour green when working with the blue and yellow buttons. They also worked very hard at threading the yarn through the button holes developing fine motor skills and displaying perserverance.
Investigations in the Sand

We presented the children with cardboard tubes, spoons, sticks and seashells at the sand bin. We were amazing with their creativity and all of the math talk that happened during their play with these materials. The children compared the size of the spoons and how much sand they would hold. They also worked at filling the cardboard tubes describing them as full, half full or empty as they explored.

Comparing the size of the areas created for the seashells was the focus of this investigation. They concluded that there were more seashells in the larger space than in the smaller area.
Thinking Diary

The children created their thinking diary covers. These books will serve as a place to record our thinking and wonderings throughout the year. We encourage the children to show their thinking through drawings. Then we work towards including writing by the children as they develop their literacy and writing skills as we inquiry and wonder about the world around us. 

It all begins with a mark. Having the courage and confidence to explore a line. The children love using the large white board to make their mark. As their understanding of line develops the line becomes a shape. Then the shape meets another shape or line and soon writing is born.
After reading the book, "Alphabet Under Construction." The children built each letter of the alphabet for our word wall. We have begun adding our names to the wall under our initial letters. The children have shown an interest in the alphabet during playblock as they use the pointers and discuss the letters.
International Dot Day

We celebrated International Dot Day on September 15th, 2015. This wonderful day was started by Peter H. Renyolds author of the book, "The Dot." This fabulous book celebrates the courage to be creative and as the author says, "Make your mark." After reading the story the children were invited to work collaboratively with a variety of art supplies to create a dot.

Their beautiful dot art creation hangs just outside our classroom. A visual celebration of the courage to make a mark.
Reflections from the Art Studio

We created a space for the children to observe themselves in the mirrors and create a self-portrait. Encouraging the children to look closely and record their observations is an important part of our early learning program. The art studio was also very busy as many of the children chose to work with the scissors and construction paper on their cutting skills. The children have also been exploring the properities of paint at the painting/drawing easle. How blessed I felt to have captured this lovely moment of paint exploration in the sunlight. His focus was not only on the paint but also the shadow play created by his paintbrush.

Creating the covers for their documentation folders began by using the tempera cakes. Then once their work was dry the children used oil pastels over top of the paint. Having them create with two different materials brought about a discussion about layering and how the materials and colours interacted with each other. New colour mixing discoveries were shared by the children. These large folders will hold the children larger pieces of work that do not fit inside of their documentation binders.
Sensory Play


Taking a closer look at the mixed bean sensory bin. The children sorted the beans using the bowls and enjoyed the sensory experience of scooping and pouring the beans.
Wooden Block Construction

Constructing with the wooden blocks gives so many opportuntiies for learning. The children are exploring and manipulating geometric solids in space. They are comparing shapes and sizes. As well as using problem solving skills as they construct. We have seen great investigations emerge from block construction. The children have been using the loose parts such as the cans, lids, foam pieces and carpet squares to enrich their play with the wooden blocks. They have created towers/bridges and explored interior space as they fill the hollow blocks with other blocks and loose parts. Literary skills have developed as they recognize the labelling on some of the loose part lids. One of the most exciting moments was when one of our J.K.'s picked up a clipboard from the art studio self-portrait invitation to draw the tower that some other children had built. It was this spontaneous moment that shows the power of believing in the potential of our early years learners. They are capable of initiating their own learning when given a supportive environment.
Developing Roots and Wings

We will conclude with these two images. The first photo demonstrates the importance of revisiting previous learning. Taking a look back at our learning and making new connections to new ideas as we think about our past experiences. We placed a few of our inquiry documentation books from last year in the book shelf and several of our S.K.'s have looked at their previous work. The last photo reminds us to be reflective and the importance of creating a loving and nuturing environment to support our community of learners. We look forward to providing the children with an opportunity to set their roots deep into the love of learning. This will inherently give them glorious wings to set their ideas free. I cannot wait to see where this community of learners takes us this year.