Our Week – March 29

We’ve been enjoying some wonderful recess weather and games.  It is a relief to be without heavy coats and all that gear.  We’ve begun a new social problem-solving unit in Open Circle and we’ve begun planting, both in the greenhouse, and in our classroom.  We’ve continued book clubs and writing responses to help us recall more details from our reading.

Seeds and Growing

This week we began two different growing projects.  We started yellow and red Swiss chard out in the greenhouse as part of the school-wide square foot growing project.  Once the seedlings are an inch or so, and have at least three sets of leaves, we will transplant them from their one-inch plug into the square foot bed.  We’ll be observing the chard and collecting data to see if one type of chard grows more successfully than the other.

We also began to learn about seeds.  We soaked different types of beans so that we could learn about, see and label the five main parts of a seed.  It was fun to see that the first leaves and roots are already in the seed before it is planted.  All a seed needs is water and warmth – soon there will be a sprout.

In the classroom, the children chose different types of seeds to plant.  We carefully put them against the side of a clear plastic cup so we could see the roots emerge first and maybe even notice the first green sprout before it pushes above ground.  We’ve made guesses about which seed type we think might sprout first. You’ll see those in your child’s work this week. We know scientists make a hypothesis when they experiment, but we didn’t have enough information to make more than a guess at this point. Perhaps we’ll conduct a second experiment.  Then we’ll be able to make a more informed choice.  Which flower do you think might sprout first: morning glory, zinnia, cosmos, sunflower or marigold?  Which vegetable do you think will be the first to germinate: corn, pumpkin, squash, bean or cucumber?  We’ll let you know what we discover.

Practicing Paragraphing

Last week we worked through a three step paragraphing process.  First we collected facts about Mary Poppins.  Next we chose what was most important on our list.  From this we developed a t-chart with the topic sentence and three subtopics with their supporting details.  From this chart we were able to create a three-paragraph description of Mary Poppins.

This week we’ve been reading both, information and fictional, books about seeds, planting and gardening.  With the information from these books, we’ve created a collection of facts about seeds. On Thursday we brainstormed a list of possible main ideas.  We thought of things like:  seeds are the start, seeds come in many shapes and sizes, there are many different seeds, but they all begin to grow in the same way. On Friday each of the children began developing their own topic sentence and their subtopic t-charts. They talked about it with a partner and got some suggestions for organizing. They will use this plan to guide their paragraph writing process through to the end.  Perhaps we’ll be able to publish them on our blogs next week.

This is the same process the children will use to write paragraphs about their country wonders. We are hoping when you attend this museum, you’ll be able to see how our writing abilities have grown.

In Search of Wonders

Most of the children have been able to identify seven wonders in their country.  Now that they’ve gathered names and titles of each wonder, they’ve been able to focus their research through Kiddle and KidRex, two search engines that are filtered and more likely to share understandable information (it can still be overwhelming.)  They are doing a nice job, but it is a challenge with so much new and different information to understand.

If you have time to talk to your child about his/her country, I shared some websites in a blog post (I think all of the children know how to find it in the Research Resources category.) that could be explored together.  Culture Grams and Fact Monster have all the countries.  Fun Facts for Kids:  Countries and Kid’s World Travel Guide have many of the countries, but not all. Your children could benefit from one-on-one help to guide them through information, sidebars and links.  There’s a lot of information that they miss because it is too much to take in.  They could benefit from conversations that help them imagine if their country is hot or cold, if the Wonder is in a place that might be quiet or loud, etc…

Now that the children are discovering national differences, our class is talking about how people everywhere are alike as well.  We’ve begun reading stories about families who have been displaced when conflicts have come to their homelands. We’ve been struck by how many instances across time families have had to leave their homes to find safer places.  We’ve read Four Feet, Two Sandals, Gleam and Glowand Flowers for Sarajevo.  We are realizing there are many things we can do to make the world happier and more peaceful. A smile is a good first step.

Bits and Pieces –

  • We’ve finished reading Mary Poppins.  We’ll take some time to create pictures illustrating our favorite parts from the book. After we’ve created our pictures, we’ll watch the movie together.  We’ll create a diagram tracking the similarities and differences between the book, the play and the movie.  It’s been a fun story to share.
  • Liam bought our class a Venus Fly Trap and we’re learning how to care for it and hope to help it thrive. THANK YOU Liam!  What a fun addition to our classroom.
  • We’ve continued working with place value and attempting to organize our addition equations through use of the standard algorithm.   Some of the children are very comfortable with this process and others remain uncertain. We’ve reviewed rounding and are trying to use that process to help us be more accurate when solving problems with larger amounts.
  • We’ve continued to explore elements of force and are preparing for experiments that help us understand area, density and friction.  Next week we’ll explore friction and slides.  What surface makes the fastest slide?