Noodle Mania!

I think we can all agree that pasta has to go down in the books as an all time favorite food of kids. For this reason, we decided to go all in to explore the world of pasta/noodles in the Grasshopper room. Our exploration began with a discussion of where pasta comes from and how it is made. Many non-fiction books were read including one called, “A Visit to the Pasta Factory” where the students could see the process of pasta being made from wheat, to flour, to dough. Various shapes of pasta were formed, dried, boxed and shipped to the store. We also read many fictional tales of pasta such as, “Strega Nona,” “Noodle Mania” and “Noodle Man.”

Each child was asked to bring in a box of their favorite pasta. We made a “real graph” using our favorites and then combined each one to make a big bowl of Friendship Pasta! I think all of the kids agreed it was the best tasting pasta they had ever had!

Besides graphing our pasta, many math activities were incorporated into our noodle unit. We used pasta to make patterns of different colors and shapes. We sorted pasta by color and shape and counted pasta into bowls with specific amounts indicated.

Art with pasta was also very fun! The kids used many different kinds of colored pasta to create a pasta picture. These noodle pictures took a lot of creative thinking and manipulating of the noodles to bring to life the artists’ vision. Some of the wonderful pasta art pictures included a castle, garden, mermaid, skateboard, t-rex, and the sky at night. Look for some the these masterpieces at the Art Show for sure!

Our culminating activity for the pasta unit was making fresh pasta with Judy. We headed to the kitchen, put on our aprons and got to work. Judy began with the basic ingredients (flour and egg) and showed us how these are gently mixed together until a dough is formed. Each of us was given some dough to knead - this took some serious hand muscles! The kids each had a turn to roll the dough through a pasta machine to make it thinner and thinner. Winding the crank took some more muscle! The choice of fettuccine or spaghetti was offered to the kids, and with a few more cranks of the machine out came the pasta! We were all delighted to take part in this process from beginning to end and thank Judy for her culinary expertise!

Cardboard Creations

The Grasshoppers spent some of January and most of February surrounded by cardboard. Boxes of all shapes and sizes, tubes, flat pieces and long pieces were used to spark imaginations. We kicked off our unit by reading the story, “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis . Students were asked to come up with and draw their own Not a Box designs. We brainstormed as a class and made a list of all the things we could make with a big box. After discussing many amazing ideas, our groups came to consensus… A castle it would be!

The process of constructing, cutting, gluing and painting our castle took many hours of cooperation. We painted turrets, discussed placement of windows and doors, decorated the inside of the castle and painted the outside of the castle. Then… imaginations ran wild! Knight's shields, princess hats and king's crowns were created to go along with the imaginative world we had made. All of the kids in the school had a blast playing in the castle, which resided in the Meeting Room for all to enjoy.

We didn’t stop there… We used boxes and tubes to paint beautiful overlapping squares and circles. The kids designed intricate ramps for cars, a bean bag toss game, a multi-level parking garage, a puppet theatre and a magnificent sailboat. Sailor hats, telescopes and an anchor accompanied the long journeys on the sea.

This unit of study was a very uplifting adventure in the ways of simplicity. Hours of fun, cooperation, imagination and creativity were had using materials that would have otherwise been discarded. We were able to touch on every important area of child development using our hands (fine motor), bodies (large motor), imaginative play (social interaction and language), creativity (cognitive and artistic) and cooperation.

Stay tuned for our next adventure into the world of PASTA!

Frozen!

Brrrrrrr!  We made the most out of the frigid temps by experimenting with the cold.  We decided to be scientists for a bit and explore what would freeze and what would not.  The Grasshoppers started with water and went from there.  We brainstormed things to freeze and came up with:  paint, juice, milk, vegetable oil, and maple syrup (Thank you Judy!).  We made predictions and set out our samples into the arctic polar vortex cold.  When we came back the next day we recorded the results and were a bit surprised to find some of our samples not completely frozen!  Can you guess which?  We also froze some interesting objects in water like pinecones, crayons, dinosaurs and legos.  The frozen water balloon orbs were also very interesting.  No Polar Vortex was going to stop us from having fun in the G-Hop room!

Roley Poley Apples

Apples, apples everywhere!  Apples rolling, apples balancing, apple cutting, apple drawing, apple graphing…  You name it, we did it with apples!  We started off our apple unit by reading the story, “Ten Apples Up on Top” by Dr. Suess.  This is a very silly story about animals trying to outdo each other by balancing apples on their heads while doing various zaney things.  We, of course, had to try this too and we had a blast in the Meeting room attempting to balance just one apple up on our heads.   As you can imagine, this was very challenging, but so much fun to try!  We then continued our apple fun by playing an apple toss game and having apple rolling races with long ramps.  The kids loved it!

We incorporated some apple math by stamping ten apples 1 to 10 and then adding the corresponding seeds (dots) to each apple.  Each child brought in their favorite apple and we graphed them by color.  The kids placed their apples according to labels on our “real” graph.  We discussed which color apple was the most, the least, the concept of how many more and combining and counting different color combinations (How many red and yellow apples are there on the graph?).   Lots of math fun!

We also created many apple art masterpieces.  These included quilted fabric apples, apple still life drawings, and roley poley apple art where we sacrificed a real apple which was rolled and bopped around a box with paint and paper.  This created a very cool zig-zagging pattern!

To top it all off we got to go into the kitchen with Judy!  We all rolled up our sleeves, put on our aprons and got busy making apple sauce.  After a brief discussion on safety, the kids chopped and chopped and chopped, ever so carefully and oh so (or not so) precisely, lots of apples to be made into apple sauce.  We put them into our electric skillet with some water and cinnamon and watched and waited.  As the apples started to simmer the smell was divine!  The whole school smelled delicious!  We got to enjoy our culinary creation with our snack and we were even able to share the leftovers with the rest of the children in the school at lunch!

I am always amazed that something as simple as an apple can open up a world of learning, creativity, and fun for kids.  Finally, I will end with our poem…  If you haven’t heard it already, ask your child to perform it for you – SO cute!

I’m a roley poley apple and I rolled off the tree.

YOU came along and you stepped on me!

I go squish-squish.  I go squash-squash.

Now guess what?!  I’M APPLE SAUCE!!!

In Peace,

Amy

Autumn All Around Us

The season of fall is a time of amazing changes in our environment and a great opportunity to use all of our senses to observe these changes.  We began our fall exploration by looking closely at leaves.  The children used the sense of sight to share words to describe leaves – pointy, round, red, green, yellow, orange, brown, purplish, falling down, and floating.  We also discussed the sound of leaves as they crunch and the feel and texture of leaves.  We read the books, “Fall Leaves Fall,” and “Leaf Jumpers” and also a poem called “Rain of Leaves”.

We completed a few fun fall art projects in the Ghop room.  As you enter our classroom one can’t help but notice the beautiful fall spirals carefully and skillfully cut round and round by the kids.  We then used a leaf press to make leaves and glued them all over the spirals.  We made colorful fall trees by painting our arms and hands (trunk and branches) and printing this onto paper.  Red, yellow and/or orange leaves were added to the trees with paint and tissue paper.  Finally, leaves were painted and pressed to make a beautiful fall display.  The GHop room looks like an autumn wonderland!

The Grasshoppers have also been learning about patterns.  This concept was first introduced on our calendar when we noticed the colors of the number cards repeating a pattern: red, yellow, orange…  We then made the same pattern using body motions: clap, pat, stomp…  We also showed this pattern using unifix cubes.  The kids enjoyed using leaf cutouts to glue a continuing pattern onto paper.  It will be fun to see how I can challenge the kids to show patterns using a variety of different materials – including themselves!

As the season changes we will continue to use our senses to observe the changes in our environment.   Stay tuned as we taste, yes taste, the season of fall as we delve into a delicious study of apples!

Peace,

Amy

Running and Climbing and Jumping and Riding

We are so lucky at Fairville to have an abundance of beautiful outdoor space.  There is plenty of room to run, climb, jump, and ride bikes on the bike path.  Out on the play yard imaginations and children run wild!  It is here where connections are extended to friends beyond our own Ghop room.  Games of pirates, hide and seek, making music, swinging, and digging in the sandbox strengthens bonds between children.

Also strengthened are the children’s bodies as they run and climb up and down the hill, jump off the balance log, chase a ball, pump their legs on the trikes and go up the climbing wall and down the slide.  Our active little ones are on the go, exercising their bodies and minds on a daily basis.  I look around and am so grateful for this wonderful place, Fairville!

Peaceful Grasshoppers

September 23, 2013

Peace is…  This was the topic of the week for the Grasshopper class and one for which I was delighted to engage the children to ponder.  The concept of peace is simplified for a four/five year old to grasp and understand.  What I found was that if “the world” applied what your children identified as the meaning of peace – Wow!  This planet might be a different place.  Let me share some of their responses…  Peace is:  Sharing a stuffed animal, caring for others, playing with a friend, giving things away that we don’t need, quiet, smiling, my mom, sharing a choo-choo, reading a book, coloring, and LOVE.  These thoughts are simple, but right on!

We read many books about peace this week including “The Peace Book” and “Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace”.  We also talked about three different symbols of peace:  A dove, the two-finger peace sign and the circle peace sign.  The kids really enjoyed using the dove paper press which popped out peace doves by the dozens.  The children finger painted with blue and green paint and then cut out a circle to represent the earth.  We then glued small white doves and hearts all over the earth to represent world peace.  They were so proud of this multi-stepped project!

Our Peace Day activities included a very special Meeting for Worship outside!  Both mornings were gorgeous and it was so amazing to hear all of the sounds of the outdoors during our whole school silence.  We then returned to our classes to paint peace doves.  Each child was supplied with a wooden dove and a multitude of colored paints to create their own unique and special dove.  Their messages of peace were printed on the back with each child’s name.  Keep your eyes out for this beautiful flock of doves to be displayed at school in the near future.

The MWF students had some very special visitors on Friday.  High school students from Wilmington Friends School came to spend the morning at Fairville.  Our buddies were welcomed whole heartedly by your youngsters and Tai and Khalid were amazing with your kids!  They wasted no time, jumping right in to do play-dough, puzzles, read stories, help with projects and paint peace doves with the class.  We enjoyed snack together and then the fun continued outside on the play yard.  The kids played, chased and had a blast with Khalid and Tai and we were delighted to make this connection between young and “old” students.

The T/Th class was treated to the very first music class of the year with Bill!  Besides the usual songs, shaker eggs and marching, the kids played on four large drums.  They had so much fun pounding, tapping and beating to the music Bill was playing!  Lots of fun!

This is just the beginning of what I feel is going to be a fabulous Grasshopper year!  Each class is feeling comfortable and connected to each other and enjoying every day.  I look forward to seeing everyone at Back to School Night on Thursday, September 26th! 

Peace,

Amy

A New Year of Friendship

The Grasshopper room is finally hopping with happy and enthusiastic students! Yay!  We have spent most of this week just getting to know each other, our routines and feeling safe and comfortable in our new environment.  It is lovely to see new friendships blossoming and comfort levels rising already. 

The absolute best part of being a teacher is the pleasure of getting to know each unique, creative spirit and figuring out how to honor each child individually.  It is amazing how connected I already feel to your children!  I sincerely thank you for sharing them with me this year! 

In Friendship, 

Amy