For our weather unit, we made our own instruments. Over spring break, Paula sent us on a scavenger hunt to find items needed to make our instruments. We finished our weather instrument making! The barometers showed a bit of adjustment today since the storm came through last night. We recorded our weather during calendar time which keeps track what the weather is like (windy, sunny, thunderstorm, cloudy, etc) the temp (weather.com) and what kind of clouds are in the sky.
We started looking at plant parts and how they make seeds (mainly the tots are interested in this). Today I brought in a daffodil for them to pull apart to understand how seeds are formed. Then Claire and Lucy sorted seeds that I found throughout my house and made some pictures from them. Maybe this weekend see if your child can find seeds you have around your house. Did you eat any seeds over the weekend? Sunflowers are fun teach them how to crack open and eat! :)
Today we cut down the willows for our pea tepee, donated the seeds to Good Will and went dumpster diving for cardboard! Next week we will continue the scavenger hunt for our garden by looking for used pallets! We are going to make a fence for our garden out of pallets! We have watched some videos about it and it looks like the kids can help build it! We are still on the hunt for our arbor trellis.
Over spring break, Jack, BJ and their dad came in and set up our fish tank. They went to Coralville Bay and purchased another filter and some rocks for the bottom. Cosgrove's water contains a lot of rust, so we had to bring all the water from home to use for the tank. We let the water sit for a few days so today we went to Coralville Bay and got our fish. We have three danios and three tetras. Today was the first day we could test the water and discuss the nitrogen cycle. To start the lesson I explained that I wasn't familiar with the nitrogen cycle and establishing a bacteria colony in a new fish tank. I discussed that I am a visual learner so when Cole (the man at the fish place) was talking to me about nitrites and nitrates, I was confused. I know I am a visual learner and so I went to the internet, printed information out and highlighted. I hope this information was helpful to Jack as he starts to think about how he learns best and how to succeed in middle school next year! Anyway, we learned together about the three stages a fish tank must go through to establish good bacteria. We tested the water for the PH level (8.0) and ammonia (.25 ppm) I will come tomorrow and replace 20% of the water and test the water level again. I had a lot of fun learning with them today!
We all shared stories from our break and brought some things to show. I brought shells from the beach and the kids loved looking at them. Jorge decided to sort them!. This unprompted learning opportunity got me thinking. I would like to have each child come back to school after break with something to present. It can be things that they collected (like the shells) or an art project to do (Jack wanted to make a snow globe with a few of my shells but I didn't bring home sand) or a playbill from a show they saw over break. This will allow us to do more than just share stories about break, but make it more meaningful for all children.
We started by talking about the seasons. This was part of Claire's winter unit so she was already knowledgeable about this. I took an orange and drew the equator on it. Then I poked toothpicks on either end to show that the earth rotates on it's axis. We used the lamp in our room as the sun. We discussed what it looks like in a 24 hour period (the earth rotates once around it's axis) and in a year (earth revolves round the sun once). Jorge piped in that his mom has already taught him this as she (earth) revolved around him (the sun) while she also spun around! The students saw how the light of the bulb reflected on the orange during the different seasons. We went a bit further and discussed how Alaska is dark almost all day in the winter and has sunlight during the summer. I asked BJ if he could explain the seasons to his mom using an orange and he said, "I think so. Why?" I explained that you truly understand something if you can explain it to another person.
Prairie Green students went to Preucil and measured their garden space and talked with them about what they wanted to plant. The kids decided on tomatoes, lettuce and carrots. On Thursday, we used graph paper to plan out their garden and on Friday sent seeds for them to start indoors. We used the seeds that Pleasant Valley donated to us.
I also met with the kids to start planning our garden. Jack, BJ and I sat down and started to calculate when seeds needed to be started in order to get in the ground in the time needed. We started our first set of seeds: Black-eyed susan, butternut squash, basil and broccoli.
The Wolf's traveled to Indy to support the Iowa Women's basketball team at the Big 10 tourney so they weren't in school on Friday. So, I took the opportunity to invite Parker and Henry to school on Friday. What fun! We started with imaginative play since the blocks are Henry and Parker's favorite! Then we had Claire retell the story of Lulu's Birthday. In the back of the book it has a recipe for Lulu's cake which Claire wanted to bake at school. So, I took the opportunity to talk to them about white sugar and where it comes from. Then we talked about natural sweeteners that you could use to substitute in recipes to make it more healthy for you. We all (except Henry) tasted agave nectar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, Stevia and molasses. The kids were surprised how sweet each of them tasted. Claire described Molasses very well..."It tastes like burnt sugar" I was impressed with their courage to try all of them. We made the cake into cupcakes and substituted evaporated cane sugar for the white sugar and used whole wheat pastry flour rather than white flour. While we were mixing and taking turns, I saw Henry start organizing the cupcake tins. This prompted me to ask him to sort by color and find out what color we had the most of. Then he started singing a rainbow song that Parker wanted to learn. The afternoon started with snuggling on the couch with our last fairy tale read aloud. Then this turned into acting out "The Three Billy Goats Gruff". We did it three times so everyone could play the part they wanted.