Posts from the ‘science’ Category

Digging Through the Layers of the Earth

Earth Science & Stories

It started with Stories.  Stories that were the wrap-up of our last project.

The kids were so excited to continue to make books.  They wanted to make up all kinds of stories.  We’ve been talking about all the parts of story: set-up, setting, characters, conflict, resolution, conclusion.  We also almost always web our projects and the stories we read, so we can think about how we learn.  The kids love to do this.  So much that they ask to do it.  Nora asked if we could map our own stories, so of course, we did.

Adah, Lucas, Izzy and Jake web “My Father’s Shop”.

Jake created a web of his own story, “Peter and the Dragon”.

The stories continued.  The end of the football season was the topic of conversation and we have a couple of families following the play-offs.  Two kids were super-excited to write about football.  Lucas and Chase would sit in front of the U.S. Map and talk about teams and what state they were in and who was flying were to play whom and on…  This became their stories.

“Football Teams for the NFL”, Illustrated by Lucas (and written)

In Lucas’ book, he wrote all the teams that were playing, who they were playing and their scores.  While we were looking through his book together, we both noticed that there really wasn’t a character, so he incorporated “a boy” who then flew to all the different states and watched the different games play.

“The United States of America” by Nora & Jake.

This of course created a map craze in the classroom.  Everyone was talking about states and capitals.  Lucas really took the lead on this project and even began to memorize the dates of when the different states entered the union.  The kids already had a good grasp on the U.S.’s geography from our project last year about weather, tornadoes, hurricanes and where these storms take place in our country.

From here we began to talk a bit more in depth about our state, Washington.

“Washington State” by the kindergarten group.

“The Pacific Northwest” by Adah.

Jake had just written a play, “The Mountain Holders and the Dragon” and it was set in the Olympic Mountains.

This became our next study.  We learned all about the Olympic Mountains, the Olympic Peninsula, the Native Peoples of that area, the ocean, the rain forest.  Mount Olympus became the topic of conversation and we learned about glaciers, especially Blue Glacier.

“The Glaciers of Mt. Olympus” by Nora

We then moved on to the Himalayas and Mt. Everest.

“The Himalayas by Lucas, Chase & Adah.

Of course you cannot study mountains without studying geology.  We have been rock collecting, identifying, cracking them open, drilling into them.

We took a walking rock tour of the neighborhood and collected specimens.

We took a field trip to “Path Park”, so the kids mapped the park.

“A map of Path Park” by Izzy.

We got into a bit of Latitude & Longitude with the 1st Grade group, which also led into rounding up and down to the nearest 10.  This was hard but everyone got it and many parents told me the kids were teaching them at home.

So many places we’ve traveled inside these pages.

The more we learn, the more we love our earth.  It’s magic.


We Are The Scientists…

After about two hours of school this morning, I walked into the studio and pretty much yelled at Jaala “I LOVE SCHOOL!”

Today was just awesomeness.  As Terry put it, “at the closing circle, it was like all 17 kids were looking at you like Tuck the Turtle does, stretching their necks forward, mouths open, hungry and ready for knowledge.”

Today we started with talking about seeds.  We collected plants that had gone to seed from our garden and proceeded to collect the seeds into tubes.  We talked about seed dispersal, which we touched on last year as well.  Nora did her final project of the year on seeds and focused on the origin of the seed.  I’d never had anyone ask me where the first seed came from and I had no idea, so Nora and I went on this discovery together and it was so interesting and fun and emergent and amazing.  I will share her final book and resulting play with you soon.

I split the groups today into two as usual and I split it K and 1st grade.  We have 8 1st graders and 9 kindergarteners, so it’s pretty perfect.  I always start the oldest kids first so that they can keep working if they want through their studio time.  This often happens as the kids get older and want to continue to stay focused on their work .  Today the 1st group worked for about 45 minutes and as we started labeling our tubes and storing them for tomorrow’s continued project, Holden looked reluctant to stop, so I invited him to stay as I was bringing in the 2nd group. 

Our fresh faced kindergarteners dove into the project.  Holden was still working and we began to talk again about seed dispersal.  I had a chart set up on the table the entire time.  It had the four different ways for seeds to spread; wind, animal, water and expulsion.  The chart was next to Holden and he began pointing to the different ways seeds move and he literally turned into the teacher for the kindergarten group.  I so love when the younger kids magically turn into the mentors when they grow a year older and have younger kids join our class.  The kids were mesmerized.

We continued this project during “Art with Jaala” later in the day and the same enthusiasm was there as they glued some of their seeds to card stock for the first part of our seed wall project. Seed dispersal talk happened throughout the day and we ended up having three amazing meetings about many topics including this one.  At closing circle I chose to read “The Little Red Hen”.  At first the kids were talking about the “moral” of the story and after much discussion about if she should have let them have some cake or not even though they refused to help, we decided that many outcomes could have happened and the discussion shifted to the grains of wheat The Little Red Hen “found”.  Hmmm.  Seed dispersal.  How did this connection ever happen? 

The entire story is pretty much the evolution of the seed (and society).  And then, in all the magic that is Mystery Bay, Catalina, who had been sitting to my right said, “where did the first seed come from”?  I think music started playing in my head at this point and I said, “Nora, would you like to tell us about that?” and Nora said, “well, it happened when the Lobe fish started to come onto land and began to grow legs and it brought spores from the ocean up with them and then plants grew.”  Silence.  Holden:”so everything came from the ocean?  We came from the ocean?”  Silence.  Jake: “We came from monkeys.” Atti: “Before that we came from dinosaurs.” Silence. Lucas: “Before that we came from sharks because everything came from the ocean.”  I think at this point Atti’s neck grew about five inches longer and the look on his face was pure wonderment at all of these ideas moving around the room.  Then more silence, which is totally okay with me.  Then Holden: “Well, that just explains everything!”  Wow!  So, if your kid was one of the kindergarteners, I guess in many ways evolution was taught on their very first day of “school”.  Pure awesomeness brought to you by “The Mystery Bay Danger Hunters.”

We are the scientists in this class and today as Hannah was holding a chicken she said it best, “I’m a great chicken holder, I’m a chicken scientist.”

I’m in love with this class.  Special thanks go out to Terry, who is WONDERFUL!  Jaala who is ALWAYS WONDERFUL!  Jen who is making reading and handwriting more fun by the day.  Sarah for picking up the slack at snack.  And especially to Holden for bringing our day full circle.  It was magic!


See you tomorrow.

p.s. On a totally different note: we have a life threatening egg allergy in our class, so please no eggs in our class this year.  Thank you so much.

The Scientific Method of Observation

Yesterday morning I came into school to find this sweet, little dead baby bird on my desk.  Our wonderful Sarah, who knows me so well, left it for me after finding it in our side yard.  I love it when we can turn some sadness into discovery and learning. But we did talk about how sad it is to have such a young life be gone so quickly.  Then we dove into the Scientific Method of Observation.

First, we observed the bird to see if we could identify it.  We got a bird book out and looked at what backyard baby birds might look like since that is what we thought it was due to the birds that are usually in our yard, the size of the baby and where it was found.  We found a detailed description and photos of the progression of the first few days of a baby birds life.  We decided that it was probably on one day old. 

We then made some detailed observations that we wrote down.  After observing closely, we began to wonder what happened to the baby bird.  After some discussion, most of the kids decided that the bird must have fallen from it’s nest.  After hypothesizing, we began to collect data.  We asked Sarah exactly where she found the bird and then we went to look.  We saw the place in the adjouning house eves where many birds are nesting and decided that the bird was found too far away to just have fallen out of the nest. 

We thought about how else the bird could have gotten out of the nest.  We decided that it was possible that either one of the parents of the bird or another bird could have gotten the bird from the nest and carried it and dropped it.  We also wondered if the bird died before it left the nest or after.

While we were observing, we did some drawing.  They are sweet and detailed.  We thank you baby bird for helping us learn but we would have rather you lived longer.

ROOTS: A Study

As we were clearing out our garden this winter, we discovered that hidden under all of our bountiful goodness, were the sustaining life force behind our food.  Thus a study of roots began.

Here are some of our observations:

Welcome to Spiderville

The kids have been bringing in so many cool spiders.  There is an abundance of them everywhere it seems.  Some of them have been so stunning.  So we’ve set up Spiderville.  One Aquarium is full of Garden Spiders.  And Steve has even gotten into it.

The other aquarium has a momma and her two egg sacks.  We watched her hoist her egg sacks up the stem for safety.  It was so amazing.  She’s such a great mom.

Spider Mania!!!

If you LOVE spiders and don’t want to see them fed to various aquatic creatures, turn back now!  Not that we don’t LOVE spiders, we totally love spiders, well except for Steve, which I secretly love because how great is it to show that the “boy” teacher in the class is afraid of spiders and the “girl” teacher in the class, could handle spiders all day long and love it.  Anyway, I digress.  Just trying to illuminate the multi-layers  of our class and how anti-bias curriculum and science can meet up. 

Today Charlie, Holden and Nessa (from Blake Island Classroom and whom I’d never met) also brought spiders in for Tuck.  Apparently she heard about feeding Tuck our classroom spiders in after school.  She was sooooo excited and during open classroom, I invited her and anyone else from her class to join us in a Tuck feeding frenzy. 

Besides feeding spiders to Tuck, we have been reading and writing about spiders, studying how they move and spin webs through observation and about different kinds of webs.  We’ve also been drawing them during our observations.  We have been printing pictures of the spiders we find and figuring out their names.  We would so love to have a PNW spider book to help us with this.  Most spider books go for the drama – tarantulas, black widows, yada yada.

So, I made a little video of  Tuck’s feeding time.  It shows all the excitement and amazement in our continuing pond adventures.  I’ve watched this video numerous time and while I was writing this, I just listened to the audio and I couldn’t help laughing out loud each time.  The conversations are hilarious.  I love my job.  I love my job.  I love my job.  I also love hearing myself multitask while trying to video tape, help feed Tuck, answer questions, wrangle spiders etc. What a great teaching tool as well. 

Ready, Set, Go…

Summer Adventures: Low Tide Seahurst Park

Woodlouse Babies

As we were looking for bugs to feed Tuck, Charlie found a pill bug (Woodlouse) hatching babies from her brood pouch. 

He placed it in my hand and they began crawling all over. 

I then put them on the light table with some magnifying glasses and the kids came up with this super-magnifyer. 

After we watched them for a while, we took them to the garden, since the mom stays with her babies.

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