Transportation

The Butterflies have been learning about transportation.  We made taxis, flying machines, and rockets.  We played "Rivers Roads and Rails" and "Red Light Green Light."  We made boats out of aluminum foil and predicted how many pennies our boats would hold.  Then we put the boats in water and added pennies one by one to see if our predictions were correct.  We read transportation books and did transportation puzzles.  We made a list of all of the kinds of transportation we could think of and got to 51 - one past our goal of 50!

Whales and Sharks

The Butterflies have just finished a unit of study on whales, dolphins and sharks.  Originally my idea was to study the ocean in general, but when we discussed how to approach the topic, the class clearly wanted to narrow our focus to whales, dolphins and sharks.  And so we did.  We read many, many books and the children absorbed quite a bit of knowledge about these sea creatures.  We played several games with ocean themes to help develop memory, visual and auditory discrimination, manual dexterity and strategy planning.  We measured out a 98-foot piece of blue yarn and then took it out to the taxi yard to see just how big a blue whale is.  After stringing the yarn along the fence, we invited all the classes in the taxi yard at the time to help us see how many children it would take to make one blue whale.  When we ran out of children, two teachers volunteered to lie down and add to our measurement.  It took 21 children and two adults to equal the size of a blue whale.  Another experiment we did was to see how blubber keeps whales warm.  We put a layer of Crisco between two baggies and then put one hand into that and one hand into an empty baggie.  We plunged both hands into ice water and felt the difference the “blubber” made.  At the end of our studies the children chose their favorite of the animals we learned about and made one to hang in the room.  Take a look at them when you drop off.

Letters

Although letters are always a part of the curriculum in the Butterfly Room, we spent the last few weeks giving them some extra attention.  We worked on letter recognition of both upper and lower case letters, we played games that emphasized the sounds that letters make and we talked about how letters make words and words make stories.  The "office" in the classroom was a favorite activity.  I'm sure many of you received "mail" from your Butterfly.

Erin go bragh

The Butterflies were a little shocked to discover that leprechauns had come into our classroom in the wee hours of the morning of Saint Patrick's Day.   Evidence of their mischief included   toys in the wrong places, babies hung on the clothesline, books turned upside down, and the calendar in complete disarray.  We weren't sure exactly what had happened until we found traces of gold dust all over the room.  There was a lot of speculation about how the leprechauns, who are known to be very tiny, were able to reach the high shelves and clothes line.  Some thought they climbed, some thought they flew, some thought they jumped and some thought they made a rope ladder.  

Gung Hay Fat Choy

In February, the Butterfly Class learned about Chinese New Year.  We learned what the Chinese do to prepare for New Year, how they name their years, some traditional ways they celebrate and the meanings of those traditions.  We compared Chinese writing to our writing and then tried to do a little writing with Chinese characters.  One of the books we read was “Stone Soup” by Jon J. Muth.  This is a beautiful version of the well know folktale and would make a great addition to your home library.  We made our own stone soup, which we ate for lunch along with tangerines, a traditional Chinese New Year treat.  The Stone Soup recipe is on one of the photos below.  One of the more challenging activities was using chopsticks.  First we practiced with children’s chopsticks, then we graduated to adult chopsticks, then we raced against the timer to see how many pompoms we could pick up with the chopsticks in just two minutes.  Cora was the chopstick champion!

Indoor Winter Fun

It may have been too icy cold to go outside last week, but we had lots of icy fun indoors.  We made ice, which we later turned into steam, we painted with ice paints, we made ice ornaments to hang outside and we "ice skated."  

Pets and Vets

The Butterflies have just finished studying pets and vets.  We read many books about pets and played several pet games.  The board game Pet Shop reinforced subitizing, counting and one to one correspondence skills.  The Circle Time games Trainer Says, Doggie Doggie Where’s My Bone and Mouse Mouse Cat helped the children to sharpen their listening and deduction skills.  We played Dog Bingo to help us learn to recognize our upper and lower case letters.  We made paper cats like in the book, Have You Seen My Cat?, a project with many steps that required the children to cut on a line, trace, glue, order by size and replicate an example.  We also sculpted and painted pets with model magic.  Several dogs came to visit us in the Butterfly Room, and we even had a visit from a real vet, Lexi Hanna.  Each child had the opportunity to use Dr. Hanna’s real stethoscope to listen to Mills’ dog’s heartbeat. Thank you to thank Katharine Maroney for setting that up.  We discussed how to care for pets and, of course, pretended to be veterinarians in our own Fairville Animal Hospital.  In the administration office the receptionists answered the phone and made appointments for sick pets. In the exam room and the OR the veterinarians examined the animals, bandaged them, operated on them, splinted their fractures and gave them medicine.  Thank you, parents, for donating the Band-Aids and other medical supplies.

When we read "Have You Seen My Cat?" the children were quite interested in the big cats so we will be spending a little time exploring that topic next week.

Happy Holidays

When we weren’t out playing in the snow in December, we were inside talking about Hanukkah and Christmas.  We read several books about Hanukkah, made menorahs with play dough like Melly did in the book "Melly’s Menorah,"and played the dreidel game, which is a fun way to practice some math skills.  We concentrated on patterning this month, and two of our Christmas projects involved patterning.  We made bead ornaments with an ABB pattern, and we made edible multi-colored cereal ornaments for the birds.  The children got to make up their own patterns for these.  The bird ornaments were part of our Night Tree project.  "Night Tree" is a delightful book about a family who decorates a Christmas tree outside for the animals.  The Butterflies made pattern cereal ornaments and molded birdseed ornaments then took them outside and hung them on a tree in the Gazebo yard for the birds and other small animals to eat.  We hung them up on a Friday and when we checked the following Wednesday to see if anything had been eaten we discovered all of it was gone!  We read many Christmas books including "The Polar Express."  After we read "The Polar Express" I asked the class what they would choose for the first gift of Christmas if they could pick anything at all.  The answers included:  a cheetah, a shark, a bow and arrow, a dog, a rainbow loom, a penguin, a golden butterfly and the spirit of Christmas. 

Wishing all of you a peaceful and joyful holiday season.

 

The Lenape

The Butterflies have been learning about the Lenape, a tribe of Native Americans who lived in this area. We read about Lenape homes then built a wigwam to use for Lenape role-playing.  We learned to say please (ksi) and thank you (wanishi) in the Lenape language. We played Lenape games like jackstraws and puhsahn.  We learned that the Lenape used symbols to write instead of letters, and the children wrote their own stories using the Lenape symbols.  They also put these symbols on their “deerskin” shirts.  After several discussions about what the Lenape ate and where they got their food (the men hunted and the women gathered and farmed) we planned our own Lenape feast. The Butterflies wrote a book about the Lenape and each child will get a turn to take it home for a day after Thanksgiving break.

We used the corn that Blair, Charlie and Mills’ families gave us to work on a number of skills including numeral recognition, one to one correspondence, counting, pincer grasp, estimating, weighing and measuring.  We did an experiment with popcorn to find out what would happen if we dyed the kernels different colors before we popped them.  We used red, blue and green food coloring then hypothesized about the results.  One friend thought the colored kernels would still be white when popped and everyone else thought they would be colored.  We graphed our hypotheses then popped the corn to test them.  It turned out that everyone was right.  The kernels were white with colored insides. 

We have been working on patterning in the Butterfly Room and making medicine beads gave us a chance to practice an ABB pattern.  That particular pattern in medicine beads means to “take away tears.”

Instead of our usual play dough, the children have been using real clay and Theraputty.  Both of these media are excellent for strengthening muscles in the fingers, wrists and hands, which helps with pencil grip and handwriting.  We did use play dough to make our Lenape clay cooking pots then we painted them to make them look like clay. 

We played several games to sharpen the children’s visual discrimination skills.  One of them was Bird Bingo.  This was much harder than many of the games we play.  The children had to look very closely at details to see if they had a bird on their card that matched what was being called.  Another game was Animal Track Memory.  One card had an animal on it and the other had the animal’s footprint.  Both cards had the animal’s name on it, so the children were actually matching letters.  They have also been matching letters to figure out what their color word is at snack time, and some of the children are able to read some of the color words now.

I think the children really enjoyed learning about the Lenape, and I was proud of how much they seemed to understand and remember about a culture different from their own.  But, of course, you can never be sure what is going on in the minds of four and five year olds.  As we were getting ready to prepare the corncakes for the feast one of the Butterflies asked if we were going to wear the “helmets” we had made.  A friend corrected him saying, “Those aren’t helmets.  They’re headrests.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Learning Through Play

For the past couple of weeks the Butterflies have been talking about autumn.  While they were having fun baking, singing, drawing etc. they were also learning and practicing a variety of skills.  For example, when we made Apple Pocket Pies the children practiced manual dexterity when they chopped the apples.  They used math when they measure the ingredients.  They had to listen to and follow directions when they assembled their pies.  When they dictated the recipe (a literacy exercise) they used memory and sequencing.  Some of the photos below have information about other skills learned and practiced through play and fun projects.

Fire Safety

The Butterflies have been learning a little bit about fire safety.  We have been discussing and practicing what to do if your house is on fire, what to do if there is smoke in your room and what to do if your clothes catch on fire.  On Wednesday three firefighters from the Longwood Fire Company visited the school and showed the children their gear and their fire truck. One thing Firefighter Dave mentioned was that the children should know their addresses.  If your child does not know his or her address, now would be the time to teach it.  Longwood Fire Company will be hosting an open house this Sunday, October 20th from 12 until 4pm.  Visit their website for details.  www.longwoodfireco.com  

 turnout gear

turnout gear

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 practicing stop drop and roll

practicing stop drop and roll

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Best Field Trip Ever!

What do you get when you combine a perfect fall day with a perfect fall venue?  A perfect field trip to Linvilla Orchards!  Many thanks to all the parents and other caregivers who joined us for a fun-filled day.   The children were filled with awe and excitement as Steve, Andrea’s husband, drove us in the hay wagon all over their amazing farm.  We saw peach trees, apricot trees, apple trees, strawberries, tomatoes and many other plants too numerous to mention.  We saw ponds and swimming pools, crows and chickens, farm equipment and bulldozers, and the world’s largest rag doll/scarecrow.  Our first stop was for apple picking.  Andrea gave everyone bags and we got to fill them up with apples we picked ourselves right off the trees.  Steve told us about how and why farmers make the fruit trees grow out instead of up.  Our second stop was in a pumpkin patch that had already been harvested.  We got to hunt for treasures missed in the first harvesting.  We found large and small pumpkins, orange and white pumpkins, several varieties of gourds and even a cucumber.  When the hayride ended, we went to the playground.  The children were almost too busy climbing, running, sliding and pretending to be pirates to stop to enjoy our snack of apple cider and pretzels.  When everyone (meaning the grownups) was worn out from the playground, we moved to the picnic tables to enjoy a nice lunch together.  After lunch Andrea gave each child a goodie bag and treated them to a farewell ride on the Linvilla train.  The Butterflies would like to give the world’s biggest thank you to Andrea and Steve for being such wonderful hosts!

Shapes!

The Butterflies have been learning about shapes for the past few weeks.  They have read books about shapes, learned some new shape related vocabulary, played many shape games, traced, drew and cut shapes, searched for shapes inside and outside, used their bodies to make shapes and used shapes to create buildings and pictures.  Photos of the buildings they created from shapes along with their architectural renderings of those building are hanging in the hallway.  Take a look at drop off.

 

International Day of Peace

     Saturday, September 21st is the International Day of Peace.  At Fairville we celebrated on Thursday and Friday by having Meeting for Worship outside in the Bike Yard.  Sharon read books about peace and we meditated about what peace means when we brought down the silence.  After the children shared their thoughts about peace we sang some peaceful songs.  Back in the classrooms, each child painted a peace dove that will be displayed in the school later.  In the Butterfly Room the children also dictated quotes about what peace means to put on the backs of their peace doves.  We were very fortunate to have a wonderful group of teenagers from Wilmington Friends School come to Fairville to help us celebrate Peace Day.  After our helpers, Caroline and Maddie, assisted the Butterflies with the peace doves, they spent time playing with the children in the classroom and outside in the taxi yard.  The Butterflies loved interacting with them. 

Butterfly Peace Quotes

“Peace is doing something nice for your family.”  Cora

“Peace is reading quietly.”  Andrew

“Peace is giving someone a hug.”  Mills

“Peace is sharing your cookies.”  Blair

“Peace is taking care of the Earth.” Charlie

“Peace is climbing a tree.”  Jackson

“Peace is hugging Mommy.”  Henry

“Peace is being kind to someone we don’t know.”  William

“Peace is being quiet.”  Mathin

“Peace is being nice to someone.” Hunter

 

Touring Fairville

The Butterflies have toured of ALL of Fairville.  Last week we toured inside.  We saw everything from the slightly spooky unfinished side of the basement to the walk-in attic where you have to watch out for low ceilings and armadillo shells.  We stopped in each of the other classrooms to say, "Hello;" we saw the office where Taryn, Michele and Sharon work; we found out where the paints and manipulatives are stored; and we even saw where the teachers eat their lunch.  This week we toured all of the outside areas: the Taxi Yard, the Farm Yard, the Bike Path, the Gazebo Yard and the Peace Garden.  We will have fun all year long exploring and using the many wonderful spaces at Fairville.

First week of school

Things have gotten off to a great start in the Butterfly Room.  All of the children have quickly adjusted to being in a new classroom and have been busy renewing old friendships and making new ones.  There are several songs and games we use everyday to help us learn the names of all the Butterfly friends.  Each day we have been talking about school and classroom rules and we made charts of the ones the children feel are most important.  Check them out in our classroom when you drop off.