Sunday, February 28, 2010

We (heart) the Olympics!

(the red symbol at the top is the flag)

It takes a few weeks for us to warm up and "get into" a subject. The children's interest in the Olympics peaked this week -- because now they have a frame of reference (watching it on tv, and hearing parents and Ms. Brown talk about the Olympics). We discussed a different sport every day, cut pictures out of the newspaper and painted pictures of our favourite sports. We're even learning that song that they play (in Canada) all through the Olympics (I Believe). The junior students told me what to write about their paintings, and the seniors did their own writing. It was really exciting to be able to use a permanent marker! (we painted on glossy paper, so pencil didn't show up well, and regular markers smeared). I've given a few "translations" to make them easier to read. Can you tell that we have been working on our punctuation (periods and exclamation marks)?

(the person at the bottom is watching)

Saskia is playing hockey
He is Bobsledding

The guys are bobsledding.

She is snowboarding.

He is skating.

The men are speed skating.

The girl won a gold medal in figure skating.

He is almost to the finish line.

He is skiing. He won!

She is playing hockey.

The skeleton slider crashed!

She is skating.

(it's hard to see, but the flag in the top has a heart instead of a maple leaf. I didn't show how to do this, she came up with it herself)

On the "Go Canada!" signs, juniors and seniors copied the words. As adults, we don't realize how difficult it is to copy. You look at the word, then have to remember the first letter. Then you have to remember what that letter looks like. Then you print it on your paper. Then you look up and try to remember what letter you are supposed to write next! The card that I wrote was in upper and lower case letters (Go Canada!) . Lower case letters are difficult to print, but we use them because books are written in lower case letters, and we need to know both. The sign that says GO CANADA all in upper case shows me that this child knows a lot. She can see a letter in lower case print and transfer in her mind what it looks like in upper case print, which she is more comfortable printing. She really knows her letters!

(some students haven't finished their paintings or their writing -- I will add those paintings on Monday night)(maybe there will be some gold winning hockey games. Yay, Canada!)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Word Wall

We are working on recognizing some sight words. This week we are focusing on he and she. Some other words that are up on our word wall are is, it, I, a, am, the and all of the names of the students in the class. We will add a word or 2 to the word wall each week for the rest of the year. The wordwall is at the back of the classroom, right beside the writing centre. The senior students are using these words in their writing, and then are "having a go" at "brave writing" for words that they don't know how to spell. I am very proud of all of the students -- they are doing some great writing in their journals and on their pictures. Even the JKs are trying to add some words to their pictures!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our February classroom

Here is a photo of our classroom just before Valentines Day (see our Valentine Bags). Our snowmen make the classroom so cheerful. The mittens on the snowman at the right is the result of our lesson about symmetry.
These were our Valentines cards for parents. We stamped our hands on cardstock. Normally, the children cut out all of their own artwork, but we ran out of time, so I did the cutting for these!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Math Monday!

Patterning and Algebra
Pattern is a unifying theme that weaves mathematical topics together. The study of patterns supports children in learning to see relationships, to find connections, and to make generalizations and predictions. Understanding patterns nurtures the kind of mathematical thinking that helps children become problem solvers and abstract thinkers. It is a problem solving tool. Children first explore free patterns with their own bodies, actions and words. They see and hear patterns in the world around them. Before creating pictorial representations and patterns at symbolic levels, children need objects with which to make patterns.

Understanding patterns is a basic skill needed in Math to understand why things work together. Patterns help solve problems and can be found everywhere in designs, shapes and groups of numbers. Helping a child to notice patterns in his or her world is an important skill to learn and fun to work on together.

When working together creating patterns, parents should use such words as copy, repeat, create, and extend. Parents need to know that the core of a pattern should repeat three times to be a complete pattern. Children should be able to repeat and extend a pattern and extend the patterns others have started.

When beginning to work with a child on learning patterns, parents should begin by giving a child many opportunities to learn sorting and grouping of objects. Here are some ideas for developing sorting and grouping skills:

Sorting and Grouping Activities

  • Sort the laundry into groups of shirts, socks, pants etc.
  • Sort all the toys in the toy box.
  • Group DVD and CD’s into two groups.
  • Sort books into groups. For example: Fairytales and Animals

Pattern Activities

Once a child has an understanding of sorting, parents can move to pattern building. When creating patterns with a child, a parent should begin with less difficult patterns and progress to more complex patterns. Such as AB (red, blue), ABB (red, blue, blue), AABB (red, red, blue, blue) and ABC (red, blue, yellow).

Here are some suggestions for pattern activities:

  • Clap Patterns: Slow, slow, fast, slow, slow, fast
  • Action Patterns: Hop, hop, clap, hop, hop, clap and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, hop
  • Patterns with Materials: Making a simple AB pattern using crayons, colour milk lids, plastic animals or buttons.
  • Paper Chains: Cut construction paper in strips. Bend paper to make a circle and glue ends together. Repeat with a different colour. Children can make different patterns for each chain.

Parents can take a child on a nature walk and look for patterns on leaves, flowers and fences. A child can look at a quilt and find patterns in the design. Most rugs, wallpapers and clothing have repeating patterns children will enjoy finding. A child can make his or her own notebook and call it My Pattern Book. A child can record all the patterns found and parents will have a record of the progress made.

A fun activity would be to go on a Pattern Hunt outside or around the house. Ask the child to copy all the patterns he or she sees in the pattern book.

Whether a child is creating paper chains, clapping a pattern or going on a Pattern Hunt, he or she is beginning to understand why things work together. It is important for parents to give children as many opportunities as possible to create, extend and copy patterns. By giving a child a notebook to record patterns, parents will see what progress has been made and give the child a sense of accomplishment with learning this important math skill.

  • Clap Patterns: Slow, slow, fast, slow, slow, fast
  • Action Patterns: Hop, hop, clap, hop, hop, clap and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, hop
  • Patterns with Materials: Making a simple AB pattern using crayons, colour milk lids, plastic animals or buttons.
  • Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Scientist in the School

    We had so much fun. We learned all about simple machines. The Wedge, Gears, Levers and Incline Planes are all simple machines.

    Have your children look at the pictures that we took, and ask them to tell you about the activities!

    Scientist Karin was in charge of teaching us about Levers. She started off by showing a teeter totter, and we learned that the lever needs a fulcrum in the centre to move around. We experimented a bit with teeter totters and explored other levers such as a pancake lifter (the bend in the metal or your elbow is the fulcrum); a clothes pin; tongs.Parent volunteers (thanks Albert, John and Michelle!) taught us about Gears. We explored some gears (corkscrew, ice cream scoop, can opener) and then experimented with water. Was it easier and faster to make bubbles using just a spoon -- or using a tool (machine) with a gear (egg beater)? Then we explored some more gears and made gear trains!!Parent (and grandparent) volunteers taught us about Wedges (thanks Rob and Affia!). We explored what instruments would be best to move sand into a cup. Was a ball an easy way to scoop up sand? Did a bubble blower work? How about a shovel? A wedge has a sharp edge, which makes it a good tool. What cuts paper better -- your fingers or some scissors? What pushes into cork easier -- a nail or a screw? What is easier to undo, a button or a zipper? Is it easier to cut playdoh with your hands or with a wheel cutter?Parent volunteers (Thanks Sheila and Tammy!) taught us about Incline Planes. We learned what kind of objects move the best down ramps, what affects how far things roll, and if it makes a difference if the ramp is steep(higher) or not .
    Some of our parent volunteers were sick today or had to stay home because their children were sick. Get better soon, everyone! You can join us next time!

    Monday, February 15, 2010

    Math Monday!

    I'm going to start a new feature on the blog -- called Math Monday. Each Monday I will explain a different math "strand" and some activities that parents can do with their children at home to support the strands.

    There are 5 Basic Strands in Mathematics
    1. Number Sense and Numeration
    2. Measurement
    3. Geometry and Spatial Sense
    4. Patterning and Algebra
    5. Data Management and Probability

    Number Sense and Numeration

    Number is a property of sets that indicates how many elements are in a set. Number can be represented through objects, pictures, graphs, or symbols (such as words or numerals) Numeration refers to the use of numerals to represent numbers. When we say the a child has good number sense, we mean that the child possesses varied abilities and understanding that have gradually developed: an awareness of the relationships between numbers, an ability to represent each number in several ways, a knowledge of the effects of operations and an ability to interpret and use numbers in the real world.

    In Kindergarten, number sense evolves from the total classroom experience and through specific activities. If we want children to develop a solid understanding of numerical concepts, we must call attention to ways numbers are used in everyday life, provide opportunities for children to explore number relationships with different objects, and encourage conversations about these concepts.

    Counting skills are an important component of the development of number. Counting on, counting back, and skip counting indicate advances in children’s development of number ideas. However, counting is only one indicator of children’s understanding of numbers.

    Some ways to develop number sense and numeration at home:

    - Talk about numbers that you see outside of the home such as on houses or as prices in the grocery store

    - Play commercial games such as Snakes and Ladders or Dominoes that reinforce recognition of numbers.

    - Make your own board game!

    - Practice printing numbers (use crayons, markers, paint, draw in the sand etc)

    - How many letters are in your name? How many letters are in that word?

    - make your own "flash" cards or a number matching memory game