Friday, 26 April 2013

Mini Beasts!

We are very excited to start our new Unit of Inquiry (UoI) Mini Beasts! 

The transdisciplinary theme for this UoI looks at Sharing the Planet and the focus of the Central Idea is we share our immediate environment with many different mini beasts!

The Lines of Inquiry include:
Relationships within mini beast communities,
Our dependence/the importance of mini beasts to humankind, and
Our responsibility to mini beasts.

Already during our Monday morning assembly the children expressed their curiosity about what mini beasts are and, as a pre-assessment exercise, some of the thought of what mini beasts are included:
Beasts that can stink; any kind of bug; a mouse; monkeys and fairies; bee; a mushroom; growing tree; crawlies, flies, and butterflies; a growing flower; ladybugs and bugs; little bugs; and something small.  Once we had we watched a video about mini beasts the children shared their learned knowledge and confidently listed the following as mini beasts: snails, slugs, caterpillars, ladybugs, dragonflies, spiders, grasshoppers, and bees.  Following these new discoveries we were able to categorize toy animals into one of three groups: Mini Beasts!, Local Animals, and Tropical and Exotic Animals. Children expressed their curiosity of each new toy they picked-up and demonstrated their thinking skills when deciding the correct group in which to place it.

On Tuesday Mr Laing’s Grade 1 students came to visit the pre-schoolers and shared with them their perspective of what Internationally-minded means and how it might look like.  Some of the many things we learned about included being good listeners, open to new ideas, taking turns, learning to share, being empathetic, understanding that we all have different experiences…  Thank you Grade 1!
During our Wednesday Assembly we learned new songs relating to Mini Beasts!   One very popular song was to the tune of The wheels on the bus go round and round, however, the lyrics were altered to: The fireflies at night go blink, blink, blink; the bees in the flowers go buzz, buzz, buzz; the crickets in the field go chirp, chirp, chirp; the ants in the grass go march, march, march; the caterpillars on the leaves go munch, munch, munch; the spiders on the webs go spin, spin, spin; the butterflies in the sky go flit, flit, flit; the ladybug on the wall have lots of spots; the worms in the ground go wiggle and squirm; and the mosquitos outside they get smacked… Out in the garden!  This is a fun song that can be sung by the whole family!

The Toddlers are very happy and curious about the long awaited arrival of Spring! This week we focused on various Spring related activities; Toddlers planted their first flowers (shh! it’s our secret project!); explored the earth worms; sorted different mini beasts by sizes; created their own bumble bees and enjoyed a book about birds and their houses read by Henry’s mommy!

During the week the Preschool 1 children learned about the concept of symmetry and made symmetrical butterflies in Ms Valda's Art class using different sized circles.  We had some visitors join our group this week... earthworms!  We made fun colourful stuffed earthworms and looked to see what similarities and differences our earthworms had to the live ones visiting the Preschool groups.   During Thursday outside-time we went on a walking field trip to Olivia's house and, again, looked for signs of spring.  This time we spotted ladybugs, ants, a few tiny leaves on the bushes and white crocuses.  Finally, we celebrated two birthdays this week… Happy Birthday Nikola and Birk!

In Preschool 2 we started the week by painting what children thought Mini-beasts were: some painted mice, some Halloween ghosts, some painted bugs, worms or insects. Enjoy their paintings on the wall by our room! We spent some time on Wednesday morning to reflect upon what our students learned from Gr1L children about International Mindedness. Our students added some ideas from the International Day activities and Forest fieldtrips to their reflection which was really great! We have also been working on putting up a display for our Mini-beast world. The children coloured in and cut out some flowers and leaves, as well as named and wrote down how all the objects on the board. We are planning to add some more things to the board as we keep learning more, and digging deeper, about the Mini-beasts.

Wishing everyone a lovely spring break and looking forward to seeing you again on Tuesday May 7th,2013!

Friday, 19 April 2013

April 15-19

This week the Preschool children have worked very hard on preparing for the Student-led Conferences. In Preschool that means going through all the work students will present to their parents and practising all of the details they wish to include in this special sharing process. The students are ready and really looking forward to celebrating their success in learning with their families!
This week in the Toddler class the main focus was on colours and rainbows. Children sorted objects by colours, matched colours according to flowers, created clouds with rainbows and learned to name colours in English.
They also learned to recognize number 5 in the environment and practiced the songs about number 5. So now our first books about numbers, as well as our big, thick folders with many different projects, are ready for presenting to our Toddler parents at the Student-Led conference which will take place tomorrow – Saturday, April 20 @ ISR. Welcome to the conference!
Preschool 1 - The week started off with the exploration of a new texture, plasticine.  We started to make plasticine pictures by rolling the material in little ball shapes and pressing them onto the cardboard picture outline.  We used our fingers like paintbrushes to flatten and spread the material.  The Preschool 1 children also enjoyed making collages with Ms Valda during Arts class.  We used different textures, shapes, colours, and objects including: balls made of aluminium; beads; translucent colourful plastic forms; and various kinds of materials.
On Thursday the weather was so beautiful that we decided to take the opportunity and go on a walking field trip around the neighbourhood and along the river Daugava!  When we returned then children reflected upon the many things we saw and heard and among them were: flowers (yellow, purple and white); green grass; spiders; birds (ducks, crows, and seagulls) and their songs; dog; boats (big and small); the river Daugava; Zebra crossing; Olivia’s, Vanesa’s, Wolf’s homes; signs of spring (buds); and water.  We even saw our classmate Leela and her mummy at the window as we passed their house!  It was a wonderful walk and the Preschool 1 children demonstrated very good partner and line-up skills! Super!  Children expressed surprise and joy when we saw the first snowbells!
Preschool 1 and Preschool 2 children have started to look at the SFA sounds for the second time.  This week we learned and reviewed sounds and the cue to write them correctly: ‘m’ (The man marches on mountains.  From the man go down, climb one mountain and another - /mmm/ ); ‘a’ (‘’Alphie asks for apples.’’ Left around the apple and down the leaf /aaa/); and ‘s’ (The snake slides and slithers. Left around, right around, from head to tail - /sss/).
The Preschool 2 children really enjoy working in partnerships and they practised this skill by presenting their work for the Student-led Conferences with a partner. Since they have improved in their speaking and listening skills considerably then the whole process has been quite successful. On Thursday we went on a fieldtrip to the forest and we were so excited to discover that nearly all the snow had melted! Ms legzdina came with us this time and we had our story time in forest. We could also hear far more birds singing this time than during the previous time. The ants were awake and “having a workshop” in their anthill. J The children spotted several ladybugs and some yellow butterflies. But the greatest excitement of all was to find a frog - a really huge frog the children decided to name Ben Benton. He seemed quite surprised and decided to hide under the moss. J We are really looking forward to the next trip to the forest when we will officially have the new Unit of Inquiry about Mini-beasts!

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Art of Sharing under the Rainbow!

During this past week the main focus in Preschool has been the festive events and insightful and creative activities of the International Days.  During the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning the cultural costumes/dress worn by children, along with the 33 different flags represented at ISR, filled the gym hall with wonderful colours, enthusiasm and warmth.  We all learned some details and facts about each of the countries represented and heard a little bit of each anthems. We were all participants: families and friends sitting and standing in the audience; and children and staff on the move!  As children and staff walked behind their country’s flag then a sense of pride, and respect for others, flowed from one to the next.  It was a very special and meaningful event and provided a learning opportunity for all. 

Following the ceremony, and over the next two days, the Preschool children took part in various activities that focused on The Art of Sharing. Each child took part in three activities: song and movement, a story, and an art experience.

In our story You, Me and the Rainbow by Petrea King, a mother wraps her child in each colour of the rainbow before wishing a good night.  This story had a deeper message and looked at the symbolic colours of the rainbow (friendship, love, peace, happiness, safety, security, generosity) and how we as individuals, families, and communities can share these qualities and gestures with other near and far. We practiced this by simply placing our hand on our hearts and extending our own rainbow to either someone we know or someone we may not know.  

The movement activity presented children with a creative experience where each colour of the rainbow represented a different animal and it's movement and language: red starfish, orange lion, yellow snake, green frog, blue butterfly, purple octopus, pink flamingo…..  Might we be an animal, a person, a plant or a mineral, we are all guests on this earth and we all have an opportunity to sense and share the colours of the Rainbow. 

In the art activity we made this unique rainbow with many different materials.  Children's hand prints transformed into flowers sprouting, budding and blooming under the colours of the rainbow.  We share this world with billions of other people and by sharing our colours of love and peace with others we are learning to make this precious earth, the world we live in, a better place. We would like to share with you our beautiful Rainbow and flowers we have made!

On Wednesday afternoon Nika, our well travelled Toddler, presented the Preschool group with pictures of her trip around the world! Starting from Riga, to Sanfancisco... Australia... New Zealand... Indonesia... India... Our busy itinerary and trip through the rest of her travels will continue next Wednesday!  Thank you to Nika's family!

During the walks through the table exhibits the children, big and small, were all exposed to so many interesting pictures, artifacts, foods, flags, and maps!  Thank you to all the families involved in participating in this insightful and delicious event! Finally, the concert presented by 14 different country representatives brought much enjoyment and humour to the Preschool children.  

Friday, 5 April 2013

April 2nd-5th, 2013

This week the Preschool students continued to explore substances including water, paint and oil. During our morning assembly we experimented with adding food colouring to water into a clear bottle... and then we added oil to this mixture.  Some of the questions we discussed included: What hapens when we add food colouring to water?  Will they mix together or stay separate? What will happen when we add oil to water?  Will they mix together or stay apart? Why is this so?  As a result of this experiment we discovered that food colouring mixes into water and the drops of colour make the water colourful.  We also observed that when oil is added to the colourful water then the oil always finds its way up to the top of the mixture and the two (water and oil) do not mix even when we shake it vigorously for a really long time! Oil will stay on the top of the water because the oil is lighter than water! In fact, for those of you interested in a more specific scientific insight in the matter:  An oil molecule is heavier than a water molecule. But a gallon of water is heavier than a gallon of oil because water is denser, meaning the molecules are closer together. Therefore, there are more molecules in a gallon of water than in a gallon of oil, making it heavier!

This week the Preschool 1 children explored the sequence of the colours of the rainbow and children coloured their own rainbows by following examples of rainbow pictures.  Various games involving numbers and shapes, and number recognition activities, were a focus this week.  Shape within shape pictures challenged the children and they it was a lot of fun to trace, count and identify the number on a number line.  The concept of opposites were further explored and new opposites were discovered and added to their repertoire: float/sink, let go/hold tight, and clothed/naked.

 This week Toddlers loved to explore all the mud, snow and ice during outside time on the playground. They were also busy collecting pieces of ice and making mud cakes with their friends.
The Toddlers fully enjoyed their Art lesson with Ms Valda. They created pictures of pussy willows by using some very colourful and sticky materials, as well as real pussy willows! We truly hope that by making this art project we will soon make Spring welcome! We even sang "Mr Golden Sun" (Toddlers favourite song this season) to make it even more welcoming!

The Toddlers are very happy to welcome our student Nika back from her trip around the world! We are so happy to have you back in our class!
A new boy Deni joined us this week; welcome, Deni to Preschool2! On Wednesday, we read the book “It looks like spilled milk…’ in class and the children did a hands-on activity afterwards. They worked with a partner and spilled some “milk” (white paint + water) on a piece of paper and then told what they thought the spilled liquid looked like. They had some wonderful ideas, like: hedgehog, bouncy balls, insect, race horse, space. We had an outstanding writing session on Friday where all the children together wrote the title page for their book for our current UOI. They demonstrated great writing skills, were very patient and were proud about their work in the end. On Thursday we went on a fieldtrip to forest and had lots of fun there. We did the usual marshmallow toasting and made some hot chocolate on the fire place. This time the children made sculptures out of snow and using any other materials, like twigs and pinecones they could find. We had some wonderful snowmen, mickey mouse, castles and houses. As much as we would like them, we hope that they will be melted by the time we go to the forest again!:)

A reminder for Preschool parents: International days will be celebrated on Wednesday April 10th and Thursday April 11th! Stay tuned and don't forget to wear your national costumes!