Final entry for 2013 - 2013 school year

This is the last Butterfly blog of the school year.  Most of May was spent exploring the topic of construction.  The children experimented with many types of construction materials ranging from traditional wooden blocks to marshmallows and toothpicks.  One of their favorite projects was designing and building a skyscraper.  After a few unsuccessful tries, they came to the conclusion that we needed a wide, stable base for our building.   With help from me to place the top boxes and hot glue it all together, they built their skyscraper.  The next step was painting it.  The class decided it should be gray so we had to mix white and black paint until we got just the right shade of gray.  The last step was drawing on all those windows – that took a long time! 

Another activity that everyone enjoyed was leading morning exercises. The children got to lead morning exercises when it was their last turn as Today’s Helper.  They had to stand in front of the rest of the class and decide if we counted forwards or backwards, fast or slow.   They did a great job with it.   And just FYI, your child probably told you that he or she hardly ever got a turn to be Today’s Helper.  I know it seemed that way to them, because it is a long time (two weeks actually) between turns, but each child was Today’s Helper fifteen times. :)

One fun activity we did the last week of school was to harvest the lettuce we had planted in April and eat it for snack.  The children made a shopping list for Judy of what they wanted to add to their lettuce to make a salad, and then we had a salad bar for snack one day. 

In addition to studying about construction, the Butterflies also learned about butterflies in May.   We had five painted lady larvae in our classroom that we were able to observe as they spun their chrysalises for the pupa stage and finally emerged as adult butterflies.  Each child made a Painted Lady Lifecycle Book, and we released our butterflies on the last day of school.  It was exciting and a little bit sad for the children to watch their butterflies fly out into the world.  It’s like that for me at the end of the school year when I watch my Butterflies leave the Butterfly Room and fly on to new classes and new schools - exciting and a little bit sad. 


Construction Projects #3 and #4 and #5

Many thanks to all of the parents and younger siblings who came in to help with our construction projects. Kristen, Amanda, Gene and Nicole supervised the children while they hammered small pieces of wood together. Sarah, Karen, Ella, Veronica and Siena helped small groups of children build a city with the unit blocks in the Meeting Room.  We enjoyed having you with us.  

Construction Projects #2 and #3

Cora, Grace, Gus, Jonas and Sam had their turn to build with the unit blocks today.  They divided themselves into two groups - boys and girls.  

The girls made a castle.  This is how they described what they built:

"The castle has a bedroom for us to sleep in.  There is a ballroom and a gate for the horses to go outside.  There is another gate for the people to go outside.  We made two ballrooms so a lot of people can get in.  There are steps to go downstairs."

The boys made a house.  This is how they described what they built:

It has a ramp.  There is an engine under part of the house.  There is a big wall because when it's windy we don't want the wind to blow our stuff away.  It has a sidewalk so people can walk on it and play on it.  Cars go down the ramp."

Construction Project #1

Caroline, Mady, Michael, Peter and William had an opportunity to work with the unit blocks today.  They started by building either alone or with one other friend, but eventually ended up joining all of their structures together.  This is how they descried what they built:  

"We made a bridge and tunnel.  We used team work. And it's so long that its going to take forever to unbuild it.  There is a way to get all the way down there quickly so you don't pop your tires.  There are smoke stacks. There is an icky swamp at the end. At the night some of the blocks flip up for boat lights. There is a jump for when the cars crash. "


The Butterflies studied transportation for the first three weeks of April.  The children came up with a list of all the types of transportation they could think of.  We added to the list each day as they discovered more and more means of transportation.

We read lots of great books including If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen.  After we read the book, the children designed and built their own cars, which will be displayed in the Art Show at the end of the school year.

We also made taxis out of play dough, helicopters out of paper and boats out of foil.  The foil boats were used to transport pennies.  Before we made the boats the children estimated how many pennies their boats would hold without sinking.  Then they constructed the boats and we found out exactly how many pennies each boat held. 

We played several games with transportation themes including “Roads, Rivers and Rails” and License Plate Matching. Both games were excellent for enhancing visual discrimination skills.  “Rivers Roads and Rails” is challenging and I would recommend it if you are looking for a new game for your child.

Small groups of children were taken to the Meeting Room to build ramps.  They experimented to determine which kinds of surface and which degrees of incline made the best ramps. Next they tried different types of vehicles to see which went the farthest.  One group even built two ramps and had their cars doing jumps between them. 

Luckily, the weather got nice enough for us to start using the bike trail again.  The bikes are a little bit big and a little bit heavy and there is a hill right at the start of the trail, so the riders have to work hard to get going.  But the good news is, the end of the trail is downhill!



Outside April Fun

In addition to learning about transportation, the Butterflies have enjoyed some fun outside activities in April.  When the weather FINALLY warmed up, we planted lettuce and marigolds in the garden.  Our plan is to harvest the lettuce and eat it in May.  Sam’s mom, Kristen, and some other moms from the Fun Fair committee helped us make a beautiful butterfly stepping stone.  Two lambs came to visit Fairville and we got to pet them!  We are glad to be spending more time outside now that spring has sprung.

Fairville Farm

We spent the last two weeks of March talking about farms.  What do farmers do?  What animals are found on a farm?  What do farmers grow?  Where does the food we eat come from?  We planted two types of seeds and graphed how long it took them to sprout.  We made a barn and farm animals which are hanging outside the Meeting Room.  See if you can find which animal your child made.

No farm is complete without a dog, and we were lucky to have Caroline’s mom, Jessica, read us a cute book called If You Give a Dog a Donut.  After reading the book she helped the children make their own dogs complete with funny googley eyes.  Thank you, Jessica.

And, of course, there were the baby chicks.  We predicted which egg would hatch first.  We used four of our five senses to observe the eggs and the chicks and recorded our observations in a Chick Journal.  We learned about the life cycle of a chicken.  The children know a lot about baby chicks.  Ask them what they learned.  Our last activity before spring break was reading Chicks and Salsa and making salsa for our snack.   Several of the children asked me to give you the recipe so here it is:


 Butterfly Class Salsa

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 large jalapeno with the seeds removed chopped into pieces

1 scallion chopped into pieces

salt to taste

juice of one lime

Put everything in a food processor and mix to desired consistency. 

Serve with tortilla chips.


Letters Letters Letters!

Although letter recognition and phonemics are part of our curriculum everyday, for the past week and a half we have focused heavily on letters – what they look like, what they sound like, how to make them etc. We played with giant wooden letters. Without much help, several children arranged these letters in alphabetical order.  Others used the letters to write their names or their initials.  And some of the children built with the letters. 

We played a lotto game that involved beginning sounds and letter recognition. Everyone played the first time using upper case letters.  The next time we played the game, the children who already knew all of their upper case letters played it using lower case letters.  

We delivered “mail” in the hallway by matching beginning sounds.  Each piece of mail had a picture on it and the children had to put it in the mail folder that had a picture with the same beginning sound. 

We did upper and lower case letter puzzles.  We made letters with stamps, with play dough, with wikki stix and with oil pastels.  We read lots of books about letters including one of my favorites, The Z was Zapped, by Chris Van Allsburg.  The whole class loved this book!  We also read Chica Chica Boom Boom and then the children each wrote a new ending to the story.  They were asked to include at least five letters in their illustrations.  These are hanging up in the hallway.

Gung Hay Fat Choy

Happy Chinese New Year!  We learned a little bit about Chinese New Year in February.  We swept our housekeeping area to prepare for the Year of the Snake, like the Chinese do.  We made paper lanterns to decorate our room.  We observed how Chinese writing is different from ours because they use symbols instead of letters and they write in columns instead of in rows.  We made red envelopes to put pennies in and did a science experiment to shine those pennies. We made Chinese friendship bracelets for our classmates.  We used chopsticks to pickup pompoms. We sang a Dragon Dance song and used bubble wrap to make firecracker noises that scare away bad luck.  But the best thing we did was make Stone Soup.  After we read the book, Stone Soup, the children made the soup themselves and we ate it for lunch along with tangerines, a traditional Chinese New Year treat.  Almost everyone ate bowl after bowl until the soup was all gone.  If you are looking for a great children’s book I would highly recommend Stone Soup illustrated by Jon J. Muth.  It is a moving retelling of the classic folk tale with beautiful illustrations.


Just FYI - In addition to learning about another culture, the Butterflies practiced many skills when they worked on the projects mentioned above including:  counting, observing, predicting, describing, listening, pincer grasp, measuring, following directions, dictation, cooperation, rhyming, cutting, drawing parallel lines, sorting, sharing, spatial relations, auditory discrimination, fine motor dexterity, vocabulary expansion and gross motor development.  

Winter Study with the Bumblebees

The Butterfly Class did a unit on Winter with the Bumblebee Class.  Each morning after Meeting we got together to read books, talk about winter, do science experiments, sing songs, make winter projects and so on.  It was fun for the Butterflies to be the "big kids" and help their younger friends with the projects.  My favorite project was the birdfeeders that we made and hung in the gazebo yard.  The children’s favorite project was turning a liquid into a solid – specifically turning apple juice into apple popsicles and then eating them for snack.  Part of our unit focused on how animals have to adapt to survive the winter.  The Butterfly Class wrote a book about what we learned and soon each child will have a turn to take the book home for a day.


Dream Quilt

Earlier this week the Butterflies talked a little about who Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was and why he was an important person.  We read the book, Martin's Big Words, to help us learn about what Martin was like as a child and about what he did when he grew up.  The concepts of discrimination and hatred are difficult ones for children this age to understand.  And that's a good thing.  The concepts of treating everyone with kindness and respect and of using peaceful conflict resolution to solve our differences are easier for them to understand because we practice these at Fairville every day.  After we read about Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, the children told me their dreams about what they wanted to be or do when they grew up or about what they thought people should do to be nice to each other.  They drew illustrations of their dreams on squares of paper and I "sewed" the squares into a dream quilt.  It is hanging in our classroom.  Stop in and read about their hopes and dreams.

Field Trip to the Museum

A big thank you goes out to all of the parents who went with the Butterflies to the Delaware Museum of Natural History.  The trip would not have been possible without your help.  The children enjoyed the interesting and informative experience.  When we got back to school we wrote thank you cards to send to the museum and many of the children mentioned they liked getting to hold the bones, the amber and, of course, the poop.  I thought the class did a wonderful job of sitting and listening attentively for longer periods of time than they are accustomed to.  They are getting so grown up!

Paleontologists R Us!

After Winter Break, I asked the class what they wanted to study and the consensus was dinosaurs.  So for the past three weeks the Butterfly Class has been learning about dinosaurs.  We stared by making a list of what the children already knew about dinosaurs, and then we made another list of what they wanted to find out about dinosaurs.  We ready many books to find out what we didn’t know and are planning a trip to the museum to add to our knowledge.  You have probably seen our life-sized dinosaur eggs and pasta skeletons in the hallway.  We observed real fossils and made pretend dinosaur footprint fossils.  We drew and painted dinosaur pictures.  We used our math skills to measure out lengths of yarn the same size as three different dinosaurs and found objects in the school that matched those lengths.  We also stretched the yarn out on the floor and measured how many children it took to equal the size of a protoceratops and a hypselosaurus.   More math skills were needed for some of our games. The T-Rex game was a fun way to practice one-to-one correspondence, subitizing, and addition. The dinosaur bone hunt included counting the number of bones each child found.  Two other games we played were dino dominoes, good for visual discrimination, and dino color words lotto.  Some of the children are now able to read color words and the others did a great job of matching the words on the cards with the list of color words on our chart.  One of our games, Triceratops, Triceratops, T-Rex, focused on gross motor skills.  (This is just like Duck Duck Goose.) Another game, Dino Dino Where’s My Bone, focused on listening to verbal clues.  The Butterflies have had fun learning about dinosaurs.  Ask your little paleontologist to tell you all about it!

Happy Holidays

 The last few weeks before winter break were busy one in the Butterfly Room.  We talked about our own family holiday traditions and learned about the traditions of others.  The children played the dreidle game and made menorahs.  They drew a large Christmas tree, cut it out, decorated it and cut out a star to put on the top of it.  They decorated and wrote on gift bags and made centerpieces to put in them.  Some of the greens we used were a little prickly, but the children worked hard to make something beautiful for their families.  We did an observation of poinsettias.  The children used all of their senses except taste to observe the poinsettia plant and I recorded their observations.  Afterwards, when they drew pictures of the plant, they were encouraged to include as many representational details as possible.  We read many holiday books, including one of my favorites, Night Tree.   It is about a family who decorates a tree in the woods with edible treats for the animals.  In our classroom each child designed his or her own color pattern and then made an ornament from Fruit Loops using that pattern.  We hung the ornaments outside in the Gazebo Yard on a tree the Grasshopper class had also decorated for the animals.   When we come back after winter break we will look to see if our ornaments have been eaten.  One of the songs we learned at Circle Time was “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”  We learned to sing it and to sign it and that was one of the songs we sang for the whole school at Meeting for Sharing in December.  We also sang the Potato Latke song. 

Early in the month the class was having a difficult time playing nicely with the Bristle Blocks.  There was a lot of arguing and a lot of building inappropriate things like guns.  We had several class discussions about how to improve our play.  One day I noticed that, finally, almost the entire class was happily engaged in building with the Bristle Blocks without any arguing or shooting.  When I asked what they were making, I found out they were making Christmas gifts for each other.  They had made everything from toy trains, to 3-D glasses, to a machine that squirted candy out of one end and meat out of the other.  Mentally patting myself on the back because our talks about kindness and peacefulness had had such a positive impact on their play, I told the children how proud of them I was.  One little friend was quick to answer, “We have to be good.  Santa is watching.”    :)

Working with your children each day is truly a gift.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday and many blessings in the New Year.

In Peace and Friendship,