Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Introducing Bill, Ted and the Princesses!

We have a few new friends in the class! First are our new tadpoles, Bill and Ted (they are having a most excellent adventure). This year we have frog tadpoles (2 years ago we had toad tadpoles). They have just emerged from the mud and are ready for their metamorphosis into frogs!

These frogs hatched from their eggs last spring -- then spent last year eating and growing, then hibernated in the mud over the winter. Last weekend I carefully removed them from their pond (hopefully I will return them there in a month or so....). Now they are living in an aquarium in our classroom -- and we can already see their tiny legs beginning to grow. We were a bit worried that they weren't eating -- but today they started to eat! (they eat lettuce which I have boiled then frozen to make it a bit softer and mushier). They are about 3" long.

(I can't seem to get a better picture, sorry!)

Also from the same pond came some huge snails! Their names are Aurora, Ariel and Belle (named after some very popular Disney princesses). I have also seen quite a few small snails on the bottom of the tank -- I'm not sure how they got in there -- perhaps they were attached to a big snail? Or are they really babies? The snails in the pond (in London, Ontario) were up to the size of my fist! Our princesses are about golf ball size. I'm not sure if these snails are native to Canada-- or if someone has dumped their aquarium snails in the pond -- I'm still researching. They are similar to this snail (click here). They do seem to breath the air!

Noah named the water beetle "Love" but we haven't seen her today......

Some of the children pull up chairs and just watch the life in the aquarium...
Here is what they said:
"This is SO cool!"
"Better than tv! "

My only wish is that they ALWAYS believe that their natural curiousity and inquiry is better than tv :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We love to build. Sometimes we use lego, sometimes it duplo. Mostly, though, it's good old wooden blocks!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Math Monday -- Measurement

Math Monday -- Measurement

Children need experiences:

  • classifying, describing and arranging objects using language such as shorter than, longer than...
  • describing time and temperature with terms such as longer, shorter, hotter, colder, warm...
  • comparing sizes of objects by using non-standard units e.g. line up blocks beside books, count the blocks
  • choosing a non-standard unit and using it to estimate, measure, compare, and order various objects
  • Use a non-standard unit (link cubes for example) to cover the given area of objects. e.g. How many crayon boxes does it take to cover the desk?

The terms non-standard and standard are often used when describing prescribed learning outcomes for measurement.

Measuring with non-standard units means measuring things with blocks, pencils, hands, feet, etc. As long as the items used to measure with are all the same size, e.g. identical blocks or brand new pencils, they are suitable to use.

Measuring with standard units means measuring with inches, feet, yards, centimeters or meters, using rulers and other measuring devices.

How you can help at home:

Reinforce terms such as: taller, shorter, small, large, lighter, heavier, hotter, colder, warm and variations of the terms such as large, larger, largest, morning. Also afternoon, evening, today, yesterday, tomorrow, week, year

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cranes for Kids

(our colour and cut cranes -- they look pretty good, don't they?

We made 38 cranes to send to OshKosh. I explained a bit about the earthquake in Japan (please reiterate to your children that large earthquakes like this won't happen in Toronto). I explained that the ground shook a lot and that lots of people's houses fell down and that everyone had to run outside and lots of people now had to rebuild their homes. And that lots of people (children) had to leave their houses wearing only the clothes on their backs. That the clothing store/company OshKosh was going to send a piece of clothing to a child in Japan for each crane that we made. So that all of the children would have clothes to wear.

["What about the parents?" someone asked. "Other places are sending clothes for adults -- we're helping the children" I said. I hope that someone is sending adult clothes.... I'm sure that they are -- I know of groups sending socks and quilts. Surely the Red Cross sends clothes? Anyway -- I diverted the focus back to the children that we ARE helping.]

Each child who was at school (in our class -- a.m. and p.m. ) on Friday made at least one crane (and THANK YOU Teagan for making 3!). All of the ones that we made were sent off -- without anyone insisting that they take it home themselves! (I have more cranes for them to colour and cut this week if they want to make one for themselves).

A special thank you to Sheila Philcox who helped our morning class -- and folded an origami crane for each child to take home -- while she was supervising the groups of 5 children at a time! She was even able to be patient enough to help 2 students fold their own! (cranes are hard!)
And thank you to Ms. B -- our Student Teacher / helper in the pm class!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Popular Centres

The dinosaur playscape has been very popular with the boys AND the girls.

The girls play more often with the ponies.

The great part about this type of play is the stories that they make up.

Student "....and then the big giant snake came and bit off the little pony's head"
Ms. Brown "Oh, why did the snake do that?"
Student "Because he was hungry"
Ms Brown "Oh.... well.... what would happen if the snake didn't eat the pony?"
Student " Then the lions would eat him"

(that poor doomed pony :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Outdoor music centre

We are making an outdoor music area -- and I am hoping to add a hanging xylophone. Does anyone have some scrap 2x4s hanging around? (and the ability to cut them and/or drill them?)(I can do it, but I'll need to take it all home and then bring it all back on the subway). I am trying to do what this preschool has done.

We'll hang it from a rope that is bungee corded between the trees (we have to take it down every day). Mr. Travers' office (and window) is right above the area, so maybe we'll test it out with some pre-made instruments before we invest a lot of time and energy into it.

How about any old metal pot lids? Old wind chimes?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Outside play

“Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives.”

~ Thomas Berry, The Dream of Earth

As is it getting warmer -- we will be playing outside much more. We'll move a lot of our centre activities outside -- we'll have bins of animals, dinosaurs, cars, musical instruments, paints, as well as chalk, bubbles, balls and pylons (maybe not all at once :). If anyone has any old sheets that they could donate, we'd love to have them (for fort building -- rips are fine -- I'll sew them up)

We'll also be trying to learn about the natural world as much as possible. (Does anyone have an old pair of binoculars that they would like to donate? I'd say lend, but, although we will try to be careful, accidents do happen......)

We might go out very briefly on rainy days to observe what happens in the rain....

Please also realize that I am not allowed to put sunscreen on your child! If you wish them to wear sunscreen, please apply it before they come to school (but not on pool days). Please send a hat EVERY DAY!

"Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."
John Ruskin

Monday, April 11, 2011


We have learned about the many different ways we can move from place to place (this is our list of brainstorming).

Our deeper question is "WHY do we need cars?" (or trains, planes, boats, etc).
The children came up with some good answers -- we're still working on them. We will also talk about "At what cost?" (to the environment).

If you can't read the answers -- some are:
- to go to school
- to go far
- to go to Ottawa
- to get groceries
- so get stuff we can't carry
- to visit my cousins

We have had some fun with wheels too -- we ran cars through some paint and drove them on paper.

(one student was trying to copy what another student did with his car -- the hand to the left is from the student who made the lower painting -- he is trying to explain how he made the yellow curves -- isn't it wonderful to see this kind of teaching and learning?)

We are also experimenting with ramps and different surfaces so see if the texture of a surface affects how far a car can roll.

I love how this all tied in with our visit with Officer John!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Scientists in Schools

We had so much fun when Scientist Tammy came to visit.

First she talked about What a Scientist is and does.

Then we went to be scientists!

We learned how to be Meteorologists (studying the weather -- we learned about wind, clouds rain, and rainbows)

(making a thermometer)

We learned how to be Astronomers (inside the very warm tent was the night sky)

We learned how to be Archeologists and did some digging for bones

And we were chemists and did some experimenting with solutions

Thank you to all of the parents who helped -- Scientist Jody, Scientist Sheila, Scientist Cindy Scientist Tina, and Scientist Albert. And thank you also to Teacher Candidate Ms. B!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Japan Relief

As you may (or may not) know, one of the students in the morning class is Japanese. Her family, luckily, was not directly affected by the earthquake and tsunami. They are working to help raise money to aid the people who were affected in Japan.

There are some events happening in Toronto in the upcoming weeks. On Sunday April 10th (10:00 am - 2:00 pm)there will be a fundraising flea market & bake sale at Ikebata Nursery School (6 Garamond court, Donmills) You can park for free at the Japanese Cultural Centre. There will be balloon art, origami and Japanese baked snacks.

On April 9th and 10 there will be bake sales in many locations in Toronto. The event is called Toronto Bakes for Japan!

On Saturday there will be a bake sale at the Farmers Market at the Evergreen Brickworks (9am-1pm)

On Sunday from 11 am-3pm there will be bake sales in the west end at Liberty Noodle, The Rivoli, Cafe Diplomatico, and Amaranto Cafe. Please see tiffintales for more details.

If you would like to help, but cannot come to the bake sale, you can donate money to the Red Cross. The Canadian Red Cross site is here.

We will also be making origami cranes (am and pm class). Osh Kosh has a "Cranes for Kids" Program. For every crane that we make (and send to them) , Osh Kosh will donate one article of clothing to children in Japan. (We are making the "easy origami cranes" from the website :). Osh Kosh also allows you to take a picture of each crane and upload it to facebook. One per email though.

As a class, the morning class will be writing a letter (or some letters) to some children in Japan to tell them that we are thinking about them. If anyone from the morning or the afternoon class would like to put a personal note in our envelope you are very welcome to. We will be mailing it on April 15 .