Thursday, November 8, 2012

A present for the new tree

One last blog post I found as a draft...

Recently 'Facilities' came to our playground with with a front-end loader to dig a hole and plant a tree. 

The children watched carefully as the hole was dug with the auger and the tree was planted by the workers. As they watched they journaled what they saw. 

After the tree was planted the children talked to the tree and ran up to give it hugs in welcome.

Coincidentally, we had just discovered the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. THe children were completely captured by the tree's generosity and how giving to the boy made her so happy. 

Since I had recently drilled holes in some bottle caps to string, I asked the children if they wanted to string the caps to make a garland as a present for the tree. I asked them if they thought that would make the tree happy. They agreed. 
After we hung the garland, I asked the children why we made a gift for the tree. Here is the following conversation:

H: Because it's really special and nice.
K: It's nice. It has a decoration.
C: We made a present. It was so much fun. I love the tree! The tree is so pretty.I want to tell the tree, "I love you."
M: It's really nice.The tree doesn't have a mouth. Cuz the tree never talks. Except for wind mills, cuz they have wind. 
K: It's nice. 
Ms. Erin: If the tree could talk, what would it say?
H: Thank you. 
S: It would say hello. Ooooh. I have a name for him....Branchy!
M: It would say, Happy Birthday! His birthday is Saturday the 8th. It's 8 years old. 
Ms. Erin: How can you tell it's 8 years old?
M:I can tell because it's tall. Or maybe it's 12 years old. 
Ms. Erin: So if you are tall, you are older?
M: Yes. 
Ms: Erin: B is tall. Is he older? 
M: Yes. 
Ms. Erin: B, how old are you? 
B: Five. 
Ms. Erin: Is B older than you, M? 
M: No. 
Ms: Erin: But B is taller than you! He is taller than you, but he is not older. 
M: Yeah. Hmmm. 
C: I think he is 12 cuz he's a giant. No, it's 8 cuz I just counted..1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 (points to the ground then raises finger to the top branch) 
Ms. Erin: Do you mean he is 8 tall?
C: Yes. 

Our gift for the tree (a photo of a printout, sorry!):


Hi everyone, 

I do apologize for not posting here in a while, but I've gone through some very major changes in my personal life and my career. On that note, this site will probably remain dormant for a while, as I have moved out of the classroom and taken a position as the curriculum specialist for our agency. 

I want to thank you for visiting Ms. Erin's Room and for providing your support and feedback. It's been a blessing! 

However, I'm not done blogging. I have been asked to create a new blog that will cover the events and activities throughout our entire center, from infant-toddler through our school age program. 

If you would like, please feel free to visit us:

Again, thank you so much for your support! 


Monday, May 14, 2012

angry birds

This project started when M and H were going to visit one another after school. They told me that they were going to play Angry Birds. In the block area, M began create structures adorned with pigs represented by cups or plastic flowers (from our collection of loose parts). Many children came to check it out and talk about their experience with Angry Birds.

While they were building I discreetly set their journals beside them in hopes they would draw. They got the message. 

As they proceeded they talked about what level they were building. 

M: "I'm making an Angry Birds game. Mine is level 100."
H: "This is level 45. The green thing is a pig."
Ms. Erin: How is level 1 different from level 100?"
H: "Because it's hard."
V:This level has tons of pigs. It's level 155. 
H: I don't know that level. My dad on his phone can finish that level. But I can only play on the weekends. It's really complicated.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

paint mixing using contact paper

I got this idea from my son J's teacher, Ms. Katie (J attends the infant/toddler school at my center). 

It's genius!

All you do is sandwich paint between two layers of contact paper (sticky side down) and the children use their hands to slide the paint around until it's mixed. 

It is super easy to set up, and it's clean. Which is great for those times when you can't be directly supervising a messy activity. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Chicago Skyscrapers

Here is a little bit of documentation from what is turning into our Chicago Skyscraper Project. It began with children building skyscrapers in the block area.
Later I brought out a bucket of wood pieces and set them on the table in invitation. The children began building their skyscrapers, but more, they began naming their buildings after skyscrapers specific to Chicago. After flipping through a coffee table book on the subject that I keep near the block area, the children began talking about other Chicago landmarks and attractions they had seen. So we painted the blocks and glued them together with our low-temp glue guns

The children (not all of them, some were content to just build towers) named their sky scrapers and we set them on a mirror. I offered some gems, rocks, and sea glass and they used these to create Lake Michigan, train tracks, and Lake Shore Drive.
Here are the "Corn Cobs" (Marina City), CNA Plaza, and the Metra train (It's not the "L", its a train on a bridge that goes to down town, the train that H's daddy takes)
Also labeled is the Willis Tower, Cloudgate, and the John Hancock. One child observed that the Willis Tower and John Hancock have two antennas, another informed us that it is antennae NOT antennas.
Their final configuration:

Friday, March 2, 2012

shape and shadow

I recently bought a few Petri dishes to display odds and ends in. I filled them up with various items the children are familiar with and placed them on the light table.

I so wish I had a better camera. The pictures came out so weird.
Items include buttons, a bubble wand, chain, wall hooks, bubble wrap, plastic rings, glass gems, keys, puzzle pieces, mosaic tiles, pine cones, sea shells, tile spacers, and Mardi Gras beads.

Monday, February 20, 2012

skyscrapers, in another "language"-

The children are constantly constructing skyscrapers in the block area, with blocks, Legos, and anything at all that is stackable. 

They frequently talk about the Willis Tower and tend to refer to a coffee table book depicting many of the skyscrapers along the Chicago skyline while they play.
Recently I discovered that these white, cube-shaped boxes were being recycled by our cooking staff. Of course I snatched them up to use as loose parts and asked if we would be getting more. In fact, we would, every Monday be getting 10 new boxes so every Monday afternoon I stalked Mr. Paul, our cook, to make sure they didn't get thrown out. Currently we have a set of 45...
So the children have been enjoying stacking (and demolishing) their "skyscrapers" formulating and reformulating their structures every day. 
Pretty soon I am going to have to figure out a new location for these boxes as they will be taking over our classroom soon! 

"You have to be very careful, the glue gun is hot. Seriously, I'm not kidding!"

I didn't even know that there was such a thing as low temperature glue guns until I learned about them from E11 Playschool- a fellow Reggio-Inspired nursery school in Colorado. I ordered three from Hobby Lobby (they have them for $2.99, and they offer a 40% off coupon!). The glue guns do get hot, so there is still a need to be cautious, but no where near as hot as regular glue guns. 

To begin, we brought out our trusty journals and drew a picture of what we wanted to create. Then they searched through our "Beautiful Stuff" collection of loose parts to translate their ideas in another "language". Some children enjoyed just gluing random objects together. Most of the children chose to make robots.

Random gluing:

Making robots:

Here is a flower one child made, which she proudly showed off to her daddy:

Ms. Erin: Do you want to share any thoughts about your flower?
A: Thank you.
Ms.Erin: You are welcome.

Monday, February 6, 2012

loose parts~ metal & magnets

Today I thought I would introduce the children to magnets. At first, as will all new materials, the children played the magnets themselves sticking them to the metal cans and stacking them. When they were content with their initial explorations, they branched out and began adding metal items from our recyclable collection to the magnets creating layered effects.

 As they worked with the materials, they named their creations 'robot' or 'spaceship' and began telling stories while they worked. 
Some children figured out how to get objects to stand up...
and another used horizontal space.

The end!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

designing with loose parts

A few days ago the children were building roads on which to drive their cars. At the end of the road they built skyscrapers. When their interest seemed to decline I offered some florist gems and rocks to decorate their skyscrapers. We began by placing gems on the buildings, but then decided to add to the ground around the buildings.

 Finally we ended up making green grass, white sidewalks and a blue river. This activity I heavily scaffolded by using the white rocks to create an outline for the river. I hope to continue to scaffold these types of activities until the children are able to create them on their own.

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