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.
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.
On Friday, while we were putting together our lasagna garden, we had a special visitor, Allison Staak. She read The Magic School Bus Gets Baked in a Cake and the children were intrigued with the chemical reactions they talked about in the book. Monday, Allison was our substitute and brought some materials to conduct our own experiment. We used plastic bottles and put vinegar in them. Then we put some baking soda in a balloon and covered the top of the bottle. We made predictions and conducted our experiment allowing the baking soda to fall into the vinegar. This was a great example of how our three different levels of kids are able to participate. Check out each child's response!