Since our return from the Christmas and New Year holidays we have been working on a variety of number skills. One of which is to combine two groups of numbers together. We have done this in a variety of ways, and dice are a great way to get the kids combining numbers over and over again. I started the children off by playing a game of 'Face Off' which involves two children, two dice, and some counters. Each pair is given a laminated sheet with the numbers 2-12 on either long edge. The objective is to take turns rolling the dice and adding the two numbers together, then a counter is placed on the corresponding number on their side of the sheet. The first child to cover all of the numbers from 2-12 with counters, wins.
After the children had a chance to practice this game a couple times over a week, they then became independent and confident in their ability to count the total number of dots each time two dice were rolled. At this point I introduced 'Roll and Record' from the program called 'Investigations'. This is where the children now work individually doing the same task but now recording their answers in a bar graph form. Children who wanted a challenge were given the option to keep going until one of the bars reached the top of the graph. Others were told they had to roll the dice at least ten times. When asked how they could check how many times they had rolled, we figured out together that we just had to count how many squares we had filled in so far.
What else can you do with dice? Well, we have also been working on the concept of the number that comes after or counting on one more. By modifying the number of dice a child may use, the level of difficulty increases or is simplified and can be adjusted for each child's ability level. In it's simplest form, a child rolls one die and then shows the number that comes after the number the dice landed on using counters. Want to work with bigger numbers? Add on the dice and have the child work with 2 or even 3 dice. Which then creates a higher level of thinking because the child has to first combine the total number of all the dice he or she is rolling and then count on one more. To then make things even more complicated (if the child wanted to) they could find the correct number on a number fan.
One of the ways we have been learning to interact with books during Reading Workshop is to act them out. We ask questions like:

Who are the characters?
Which one will I be?
What are they doing?
How are they feeling?

After practicing this strategy several times within the workshop setting, the children have now started demonstrating it independently. This is a perfect example of what the Reading and Writing Workshop model strives for, a 'model of gradual release'. This means we strive to teach the children reading and writing strategies that they can apply at any time on any book or piece of writing. The more strategies they learn, the more independent they are as readers and writers. I caught this video clip of Jan and Alex one morning while we were waiting for more children to arrive. They went through at least three books together during that morning, completely engaged in reading together and recreating the stories.

Later that morning when I told the class about the wonderful things I saw Jan and Alex doing, we all decided to rename the activity and call it, the "Book Adventures" activity! Everyday this week, going on "Book Adventures" has been a center during Literacy, and everyday the children are eager and excited to act out more books with their classmates!
I couldn't believe how many more children were taking action both in school and at home this past week! I haven't had to do much of my own planning for our unit as the children have taken over! This is exactly what inquiry is about and as a teacher, I am very thrilled!

Let's begin with Joseph and Snehansh. They were both spending some time reading in the classroom when they stumbled upon a book about water. It just happened to have a water cleaning/filtering experiment in it! They made the connection to our unit and were very excited to show me what they had found! We looked at the book as a class and learned that water can also be filtered using a combination of stones and sand. It took only a second before everyone was shouting that we had sand and stones in the sand pit! So off we went digging! Our results were not as good as the coffee filter that Sam brought in. So then we thought maybe if we put more layers it will work! We created a filter layered first with cotton, a piece of cloth, sand and then the stones. We found that this actually worked better! Great job to Joseph and Snehansh as well as the whole class for taking one experiment from a book and taking it going even further by adapting it!
While we were in the sand pit Allegra looked up at the sky and shouted, "Miss Pana, the sun! Can we put water out and see if it takes it up to the sky?" She ran into the classroom to get a cup and put some water in it. We left it out and true enough, the water was gone by the end of the day! Well done Allegra!

Clara went home to see if she could find something else that might filter the water and clean the dirt out. She came to school with two small strainers. We noticed that one had bigger holes than the other. We saw that they were able to catch the bigger pieces of dirt but when we inspected the water up close, the smaller pieces were still floating in the water. Well done Clara for taking action and trying to find new ways to find out answers to our questions!

The class has also revisited our 'Wonder Wall' to see which questions we have answered and which one we want to try to inquire about next. We have decided we want to inquire about how plants use water to grow. When asked how we will do this, the children decided they wanted to plant some seeds. We have brainstormed what we may need and already children have started bringing in seeds and beans to grow! Miria has brought some green beans and tomato seeds, Sam has brought green beans and some brown ones and Joseph has brought in some little bluebird flower seeds! We are all very excited to start our plant inquiry next week!
    One aspect of going through the inquiry cycle is to take action on our learning. At the Kindergarten level it can be as simple as going home and asking your parents a question about something you were learning in class. Another example could be applying a concept learned in class outside of school. More importantly, this action should be student initiated because it is the child becoming aware that he or she can take control of his or her own learning.
    Over the Chinese New Year holidays and the days leading up to it, the days were very wet so we tried to make use of this rain to continue inquiring into our unit. We wanted to leave a cup of water out for the day to see if the sun would really take it up to the sky, but unfortunately each time we tried the rain started pouring again and the sun was nowhere to be seen! Sam was disappointed that we were unable to complete this experiment in class so he decided to take matters into his own hands and conducted it on his own at home. He also decided to re-do our puddle measuring experiment just to check for certain that the sun really does 'suck the water up into the sky'. Here is Sam presenting to his friends what he did and also a short video of his own puddle measuring experiment.
After our visit to the Marina Barrage we learned that one source of water in our homes is from the collected rain. However, we also know that when rain falls it picks up a lot of dirt and other particles that get mixed up with it. So how does it get clean before it gets to our homes? We all decided we would have a go at trying to clean water by creating a filtering system. We decided to try a sponge, a cloth and some cotton. At the end of our experiment, the children decided that cotton worked best, however, it was still too dirty! The next day some of our classmates took action! Sam brought in a coffee filter and a tea filter, and Aina M. brought a towel. We have yet to test the towel as she brought a very big one, she said she is going to bring a smaller one on Monday! Take a look at the slideshow to see what we found out!
Many of the children were interested in how it rains. So we read a book about the water cycle and watched some videos. All of them said that the sun takes water from earth up into the clouds. Some of us weren't sure if this was true and others were wondering how the sun does this! So we decided to check if water really does disappear by measuring a puddle at the beginning of the day and then again after lunch. Sam was our photographer of the day and he documented our learning for us! here is what he had to say.
Our friend Allegra
Allegra is a very energetic member of our class and she was thrilled when it was her turn to be the star name! Allegra has one older brother, her favorite books is the Hungry Caterpillar and she loves to draw! Let's take a look at what we found interesting about her name:

  • 'll' looks like legs and the number 11
  • Her name begins with the word 'All'
  • She has the word 'leg' in her name
  • The 'g' has a hook like Captain Hook!
The children are now noticing more than just the individual letters in our friends names but we are spotting patters and words within each others names. This illustrates their development in word study!

Literacy Night was a huge success this year! The children all did a wonderful job of showing their parents the different things that we do in reading and writing, and they really demonstrated how much they were learning in class. You have all made this teacher very proud! For those of you who could not make it, or came at the point where the ipads were not cooperating, here are the instructions that the children helped to make in advance for each of the activities laid out in our class. They had to help think of each step as we created these voice threads which demonstrates their understanding of the process they go through to complete each task. Well done!

Instructions for 'Not a Box'

Instructions for Word Choice

Instructions for Organizing our Writing

Instructions for Word Folders

First and foremost, a huge CONGRATULATIONS to K1PA for winning the best book cover door decoration! A special thanks to Mrs. Mano for all her hard work and creativity in putting it together!
Book Week was an exciting and fun time for all of us. We had a visit from a real author and a real illustrator. They both inspired us to continue writing and illustrating books! Together with the other K classes we all learned how to create a character. We learned that if we think of the details we can come up with any character that we want to! In this case, we came up with a monster named Adacam. Then we all had our own go at creating and illustrating a monster!
On February 8th 2013 our class celebrated our 100th day in K1! It was very exciting for all of us and the children got the chance to explore the number 100 in a variety of ways. We had a 100 cup stacking challenge, we chose 100 pieces of Lego to create a structure together, we made a 100 days hat and had 100 days glasses. We also took 100 steps around school to see where we would end up!