In science this week we talked about wind energy and air movement and how these things can help us in every day life (vacuuming, flying, sailboats, sneezing, etc.). We talked about two ways in which wind movement helps us move boats and fly planes, catching the wind/air (like a sailboat and windmills) and redirecting the wind/air with an airfoil (like flying and wind turbines).
The kids made pinwheels paying attention to the shape so that its blades could both catch the wind when blown from the side and redirect the wind via the airfoil shape when blown from the front.
The Oaks and I also had a contest to see who could blow a lego car with a sail across the table with the least amount of breaths. Not to be showy, but I won :).
Good times, Olga (Acorn mom and scientist)
Christine: The group worked diligently on a “governmental military building” involving all four orange cones, all but one tire, timber, boards, many ropes, two wheelbarrows and the slide. This was only one of several buildings that were constructed and manned this week. This was then dismantled and all the tires and cones were strategically moved to the top of the jungle gym to become an as yet to be determined new structure.
Notice the zip-line!
Rachel (Oak mom): Meanwhile, the third graders are reading this fabulous classic.
Christine (lead teacher of the Acorns): Did you know I have many, many penguins writing letters to me? So many, in fact, that I can’t keep up with all the responses. Together, the class wrote a letter to one of the penguins, and then Darling wrote a postcard to another penguin. Whew…almost caught up in my responses. We learned many facts about penguins this week, as well as revisiting Tacky and his crew: Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly and Perfect.
Olga: Hello All. This week in science we learned about the water cycle. We talked about how the earth is a closed system with all the same water now as it has always had. We talked about how everything loses water, including plants and animals and it goes into the atmosphere and into clouds, which then rain water back down.
We used an electric kettle to make steam which clouded up a piece of plastic and collected water to demonstrate cloud formation. We then built a closed terrarium with some moss to make a closed water system of our own. Hopefully the kids will be able to watch the terrarium steam up and drip down water to the moss and water it, and then repeat the cycle.
The Acorns enjoyed drawing their own clouds and weather systems after the lesson.
Update: water is collecting on the “ceiling” of the terrarium and running down the sides.
Christine: What a fantastic week we’ve had! The children arrived on Wednesday eager to see their friends, share details about their winter break and ready to learn. Outdoor Work has been particularly magnificent; we’ve had junior reporters and camera people documenting the zip-line construction which took three days to engineer, build, redesign and use. The very best part of this collective cooperation was this —every single child was involved. The social and emotional maturity needed to work on an intense project in a large group is huge. Just think about your own work or social situations . . . This afternoon, we saw the same collective cooperation, respect, kindness and initiative during Free Choice, and, once again, every single child was involved. This week has been priceless.
(Photos of zip-line to come.)
Rachel (Mom to an Oak): It was a grey day in DC, but a great day to visit the hot tropical rain forests and dry desert environments in the greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens. We saw huge yellow cacao pods hanging from branches, ferns from the time of the dinosaurs, and cacti larger than small children. Also here for the holidays: a miniature train and a million poinsettias!
At the National Portrait Gallery, the children noticed how the sitter’s pose can help communicate his inner life. What is President Lincoln thinking about? Other objects in a portrait can also tell us about the sitter. The Oaks and Acorns observed a portrait of George Washington Carver that shows the famous botanist pollinating a lily. They also studied an autobiographical quilt made by Faith Ringgold, and imagined and drew themselves flying through the air, just as Faith did.
School as Family Fun before winter break.
Christine (lead teacher of the Acorns):
What a festive week we’ve had! Our field trip yesterday was The Bomb; it was fantastic to see so many parents join us. The children had a wonderful time, as did I. I’m already looking forward to our next outing. Stay tuned; it’s in the works.
Thank you for the Winter Solstice luncheon; the food was yummy and the company divine. My beautiful flowers are gracing the kitchen counter where I will enjoy them lots and lots over the holiday break. We had fun with the children today; I call a day like today A Festival Day. Darling was busy busy this morning, gathering the finishing touches for her/his gifts to you. It takes a village to pull it off; I feel very lucky to be a part of this village. Alicia, Annette and I recently reminisced about the day we met. Who could have possibly known then where SOCS would be today? I call them the Maniac Brainiacs.
Olga (science teacher and Acorn mom): We talked about the bones in the body in relation to animals, and how animals that walk similarly have similar bones. The kids got to compare the atlas vertebra, the scapula, and a random vertebra of four different animals (deer, opossum, rat and fox) to see how they are alike and how they’re different. Finally the kids were able to examine all the bones from a dog skeleton and try to put them together going off of a picture of a constructed dog skeleton. The kids had good questions and had fun handling the bones.
Olga: Science this week was a whole lot of fun for everyone, We talked about honeybees and social wasps. We discussed the difference in their life cycles, colony behaviors, and homes. The kids from both groups had lots of great questions about the insects and we got into other random info and facts. Finally, we examined an empty honey comb I brought in from my beehive and a wasp's nest. We pulled dead wasp larvae and dead bees from cells in the nests/homes. Kids were able to examine both with magnifying glasses.
The Mighty Oaks used pastels to work in the style of artist Keith Haring, after reading:
Acorns Literacy: The Awesome Acorns focused on the letter Dd this week, which is a reliable letter when it is the beginning consonant of a word. We listened to Louis Armstrong sing his classic What A Wonderful World while looking at the book by the same title that is beautifully illustrated by Tim Hopgood; we then found all the many Dds in the lyrics to the song. We played alphabet upper/lower case matching games, and an Alphabet Match Up focusing on beginning sounds; what progress! We read What Do You Do With A Problem by Kobe Yamada, after which the children told each other about a problem they’d had while enjoying snack. Today we read The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald, and the children drew the best part of themselves in their journals. Early in the week we read Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathman; afterwards Darling wrote her/his own safety tip. This book was read several times this week.
Acorns Math: This week we learned about weight and capacity. We used our knowledge to determine which vessel held more or less coffee beans; this was tricky because the taller vessel didn’t necessarily hold the most coffee beans. We read:
Jill (Acorn mom): We "read" the book "You Choose" for a year straight. It’s a book where the kid tells the story by choosing the characters, what they wear, where they live, and what they do. My son loved having control of the story. Now that he is learning to read, those skills are really shining through. He has a keen eye for details and loves weaving a story by looking at the pictures. He can pull out words on the page from the pictures. We read the book so much we had to buy a new copy. :)
Rachel (Oak mom): Both my kids loved this when they were little, and it’s one of those children’s books that has some quiet wisdom for parents, too. In this simple story, a boy plants a seed. Everyone says it won’t grow, but he tends it carefully nonetheless. Guess what? Eventually, it does grow. Keep this in mind when you are convinced that your kid will never learn to use the potty, learn to read, learn to drive, or move out of your basement. With a little encouragement from you, they will.
A supportive audience is a great introduction to public speaking.
Christine (lead teacher of the Acorns): We found out, quite by chance, that Tuesday was Mr. Chuck’s birthday. We all made heartfelt birthday cards (this group doesn’t know how to do it any other way), and Mr. Chuck’s face was like opening night on Broadway when he received them. He was still glowing the following day when I saw him in the hallway. Your children made a real impact on him; I don’t know how many darlings he has in his life; I do know that he really likes yours.
Acorns Literacy: Mm was the letter of the week; we had a lot of fun with this because Mm is everywhere! We have so many M words that we ran out of paper! We read some silly nursery rhymes, and discerned a long A vowel sound from a short A sound. We wrote in our journals, describing our weekend activities, the artist Kandinsky and the Playground Reset. We read:
Acorns Math: This week we began exploring height, length, weight and capacity. We used many, many, many non-traditional units of measurement throughout the week. We did determine that whether using a traditional unit of measurement or not, the unit of measurement needed to be consistent; using our hands to measure the height of an object usually led to a desired outcome. We also figured out that it was easy to be fooled; that objects placed on top of other objects made it quite tricky to determine which was taller. The children noted that a log that was very long was also very heavy; so heavy, in fact, that they were unable to roll it into the creek, and they did try…over and over again! We also practiced various compositions of numerals 1-12, and worked to reinforce solid shapes knowledge. We read:
Since this is our first year as a school we are creating traditions we hope last well into the future. It seems one of these traditions is celebrating the seasons as a community. On November 1st we celebrated the Fall with a Fall Festival. The students spent extra time outside among the trees, read Fall themed books, completed an acorn painting, counted seeds in two large pumpkins, and enjoyed homemade applesauce they cooked together.
We’re lucky to be in school on the shortest day of the year this year! It’s also the day before our Winter Break. To celebrate the return of the light we are planning a fun Winter Solstice Celebration. I happen to have a 10 month old so I have plenty of baby food jars laying around. Each student will get their own jar and make their own candle.
Earlier in the week I plan on having the students do this fun activity. I would do it during our celebration but I have a feeling they won’t dry in time to be sent home that day.
For lunch, all the families will be invited to take part in a potluck. It should be a warm, celebration of the season as we all gather together and celebrate.
Stay tuned for pictures from our celebration. Before we know it we’ll be celebrating Spring and then Summer!
All the educational gurus tell us that children (and adults) are more enthusiastic, invested, and productive when they write with a specific reason and audience in mind. Last week, both the Acorns and the Oaks wrote purposefully.
Christine (lead teacher of the Acorns): The children wrote letters to a boy named Tavish who is very sick and staying in a Ronald MacDonald House in Seattle. The children know that he has an older brother and sister who are currently living with their grandparents while Tavish’s parents take turns staying with him at his temporary home. Tavish checks the mailbox daily for mail. He was disappointed, as he hadn’t received much. We each wrote a note or drew a picture to him, which will be mailed tomorrow. In explaining Tavish’s situation to the children, I remarked about how lucky we all are. We are healthy, we have a home, we’re privileged enough to be able to attend our school. The notes are sweet and genuine; I hope that Tavish feels our positive energy when he receives them.
Alicia (lead teacher of the Oaks): We read poetry, wrote poetry, began memorizing poetry, and began preparing for our Poetry Hour next week. This week, we wrote haikus, cinquains, and rhyming poems. Also, we continued to discuss what it's like to perform in front of an audience. Today I asked what is the hardest part about performing in front of an audience? Here are their answers:
O - people staring at you
M - stage fright, I feel it all the time until it's over. Ice cream helps
D - trying not to hiccup
M - I do kinda get stage fright
H- during the performance
F - I always feel like I'm gonna vomit all over the place, but it's not 3,000 people watching, so that's good.
I asked if anyone had a strategy for overcoming these difficult feelings. M suggested you imagine the audience with underwear on their heads. I suggested that that would make you laugh and you don't want to laugh during a performance. My strategy is to imagine the audience is small in size or very far away from me. We will continue to come up with ideas for strategies for performance.
Check back next week for pictures from Poetry Hour!
Christine - On Monday, Rachel brought in very colorful apples of different varieties. We did an apple tasting, using our quiet minds to verbally identify the flavors of different varieties: Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Opal, and Gala. By far, the Opal variety was the group favorite.
To close our week together on Wednesday, each child wrote and drew a picture about another child, completing the sentence, I am thankful for_________.
We read Gracias/Thanks by Pat Mora.
I hope you all are having a hygge family filled, side-splitting laughter kind of a long weekend; I’ll see you all Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed on Monday morning.
I’m thankful for you.
Alicia (lead teacher of the Oaks) - A few highlights from the week: Mini Snow People on the playground, playground surveys and interviews, late fall walks inspiring prose poetry, the magic doubling pot, number words, Shel Silverstein, Spanish animals, partner mirror movement. On Friday, the Oaks read One Grain of Rice. In the story, A raja hoards his region's rice and during a famine, a girl name Rani devises what she thinks is a clever plan. She asks the raja for one grain of rice. Every day for 30 days, the raja shall give her double what he gave her the day before. We read until the 13th day when Rani receives 4,096 grains, about enough to fill a bowl. I asked the children to think about whether or not Rani really is clever.
Christine (lead teacher of the Acorns) - We began learning about solid shapes this week and enjoyed using our knowledge to build structures and recreate an image by following multi-step directions. We reviewed left and right again, and discussed flat vs. round shapes. We noticed that bigger shapes take up more space, and we began to measure items in non-traditional measurement units. We read:
Ms Christine: The playground was busy busy busy this week with “Stuffs.” As in, “Things.” Lots of ropes, a few wheelbarrows, some more rope, plenty of leaves, even more rope and a little bit of mud for good measure. We saw cooperative play, negotiation of a Peace Treaty, and tons, and tons, and tons of running, as well as three new seesaws designed, built and tested under a sky filled with plenty of sunshine. On Thursday, we celebrated A’s Big 6, complete with our now traditional Birthday Book and Crown. The birthday wishes from her classmates were dear, thoughtful and insightful.
In kindergarten, we read Babushka Baba Yaga by Patricia Polacco, which is a new take on an old Russian tale about a wicked witch who eats children. Baga Yaga says several times in the book, “I kiss your eyes and I hold you in my heart!” The essence of this sweet story can be summed up by another babushka in the story, “Those who judge one another on what they hear or see, and not on what they know of them in their hearts, are fools indeed!” Afterwards, each child drew and wrote about the beginning, the middle, and the ending of the story.
We read Little Red Bat by Carole Gerber in anticipation of our science puppet show on Thursday. Little Bat meets many characters in the story, wondering with each whether she should stay or if she should go.
After reading Yours Truly, Goldilocks by Alma Flor Ada today, we discussed why the wolves might have been so mean in the story, and how to be a friend.
We also enjoyed the creatively funny Urgency Emergency Itsy Bitsy Spider by Dosh Archer.