Prairie Green Students got to spend 2 days at School of the Wild. The first day was quite rainy. We built a fire using a fire starter and wood we gathered. The purpose of the fire was to boil down the sap we had collected from Paula's house. It is necessary to boil the sap in open air because as the water gets evaporated into the air, a sticky substance would get all over your kitchen! We boiled it down and had a tiny bit of syrup to put on our waffles the next day. On the second day, we woke up to a world covered in snow! The day started a little later but we made it up to Macbride and got to play in the snow. We made another fire to build another fire to cook our waffles but this one was harder to get started because everything was wet from the snow! The waffles tasted delicious with our homemade syrup. After lunch it started snowing again and they were the biggest flakes we had ever seen! It was fun catching them on our tongues. Check out all our pictures! By: Jack Wolf, student
For BJ's unit on the Northeast, he was to study what was necessary to tap a maple tree. This included tree identification, noting materials needed and the process itself. He read books and used the internet to gather his information. After he talked with the class about what he learned, the students used their Tuesday in town time to tap some trees in Paula's yard. Two trees were tapped but one produced twice as much sap as the other. We were surprised at how much sap came out!
For the past couple of weeks, we have been "playing with water" or so the Tots think. Actually, we have been experimenting with capacity. I have given them different types of containers and asked them to guess and then test which container holds more water. Not only is pouring and measuring a important life skill but with this, we have touched on fractions. "It takes three of these cups to fill the bowl. So the cup holds 1/3 as much as the bowl."
Another day we pulled out measuring cups and spoons and had them estimate how water it takes to fill a coffee cup. We discussed starting with the largest amount (the cup) before using the 1/4 cup or even table or teaspoons. The kids were so excited when they thought it was full but then added 1/2 teaspoon and it still didn't overflow! There was lots of cheering and trying not to bump the table which was difficult! I pointed out to them that the water actually binds together at the top and rises above the mug before it overflows. I pulled Jack and BJ over for a quick lesson about surface tension and meniscus.
This week, I gave them a little homework to finish up with capacity. I had them estimate how much water it takes to brush their teeth at night. At first this was difficult for them to imagine since they just run their toothbrush under water and don't use a cup to wash their mouths out (actually, Jorge uses a cup). So, we went into the bathroom with a cup of water and a pen. I modeled for them how I brush my teeth (boy, was that funny when Paula put the pen in her mouth like a toothbrush!) and how they can use a cup of water rather than let the sink run. What a great opportunity for a push for water conservation!
Also, for homework, they needed to find out how many cups of water each person in their family drinks in one day. Then we graphed the results. I was so proud of the kids because they did the graphing independently. Once everyone was done, I asked lots of questions about each family. As we discussed the results, it was really easy for them to answer "How many more cups of water did Jack drink than Lucy?" because they placed their cups with accuracy. This allowed them to use the graph as they should to get a quick answer rather than needing to count all the cups. I was so very proud of them, I just had to blog about it!
I had not planned to have a formal exchange (decorated shoebox) of valentine's since we only have five students. However, everyone made a homemade valentine for each of their classmates and for me! It was so sweet to see how excited they were to give each other their valentines! Jack was sick, so both Jorge and Claire made sure that Laura delivered Jack their valentines.
Laura organized our Valentine's Day party and it was a huge hit! We had crafts, games and of course treats! Laura even tied in learning with each activity. "We have a total of 45 puzzle pieces. How many pieces does each student get to use to make their heart?" BJ did the division problem while the Tots put them into five different groups. "How many more conversation hearts would BJ have needed to get to beat Paula's record?" I added in, "Can anyone make a sentence with the conversation hearts they collected?" "No." I have a bunch of math lovers who don't like to write much! :) At the end of the day each child was sent home with a valentine's goody bag. Claire had a huge smile on her face and said, "This was so fun! Thank you Laura!"
This drawing of a young boy (the brother of one of our artists) is a composite of 16 abstract drawings done by the entire school--from kindergarten up to teacher. The photograph shown below was manipulated digitally, enlarged and chopped into 16 tiles.
We did not inform the artists that the tiles were part of a larger image. They simply were asked to reproduce what they saw on each tile. Their work was then compiled to form the image you see here.
It is a beautiful result, particularly because it displays the diversity of work within our group. It also, hopefully, demonstrated to the students that breaking an image into its composite parts can help us get closer to a realistic image.
As we were driving home from school, we noticed black smoke to the east of us. The kids were amazed at how black it was and hoped we would drive past it. I took a guess that it was an accident on I80. Jorge thought it was someone burning leaves. BJ thought a house was on fire. As we drove closer, we realized that it was too close to us (traveling on the IWV) to be I80. I said, "This looks like too much smoke to be someone burning something." However, I was wrong. We took a very short detour to check it out and this is what we saw...
It was a controlled fire because we saw people managing it. But what could make it so black?
The next day we showed Judd (he lives about a mile away from the school) the pictures and waited for his reaction. He was not as surprised by the fire as much as we "city-folk" were. We asked what are you allowed to burn in the country and what burns so black? He said you can't burn tires but oil burns very black and farmers burn their old oil from their tractors. Ah ha! Another teachable moment!
As part of a unit on the personal history of each student, we drew self-portraits. These were line drawings. It's tricky to do a portrait without any shading, to capture the personality and feel of someone--particularly when that personality is your own. Jack pulled it off. His concentration was intense, and he captured that intensity in the expression he drew. He used a variety of light and dark lines, delicate and active lines. The ears, in particular, stand out as intriguing areas of focus. It really looks like him!