Butterflies

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In the spring we like to learn about butterflies.  We learn about symmetry and metamorphosis.  The children enjoy watching these guys change!
We receive a shipment of caterpillars.  We spend a few days watching them eat, poop and grow!

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After a while they attach to the paper at the top of the jar.

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They form into chrysalides and we transfer them into their habitat.

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We wait!

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In the meantime, we provide a plastic toy model of the butterfly life cycle.  This is one the children can touch and order in the stages of development.

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We also have an art project.  Butterfly painting.

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We paint one side of the paper.

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Then fold over.

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If the paint has not already dried a bit… there will be a symmetrical butterfly.

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And we wait….

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and voila!  In a second, the butterfly emerges! Usually you can tell which one will hatch next as the chrysalis becomes very dark.

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We feed the butterflies sugar water for a day and make sure their wings are dried out and ready to be set free.

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We bring the habitat outside and open the top.  Usually the butterflies need a bit of help getting out.

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They fly around for a bit before leaving us for good.  This is especially thrilling for the children.

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And one three year old was so inspired, he made his own butterfly out of blocks!

 

writing, writing, writing

In Montessori, writing comes before reading.  Children learn through their senses and begin by tracing sandpaper letters.  This helps them to learn how to form the letters as well as what phonetic sound goes with each letter.

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A child practicing the K in his name. We are also child driven.  Although we teach cursive, most children learn how to spell their name with printed letters.

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After children learn the sounds of many letters, they begin to sound out words on their own but also can sound out three letter phonetic words.

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As they become more proficient writers, they begin to write in their journal.  They can write whatever they would like.  Some kids liked to write real stories like what they had for dinner, some professed their love for their parents and some liked to look at cards and make up a fairy tale.

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As the children enter their third year (Kindergarten year) we often see spontaneous writing.  Here a child is asking for what is in the smoothies we made.  She wanted to write the ingredients down for her mom.

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This child made a list “Eyes only” for the chrysalids so their development would not be disturbed and they could finish the process of metamorphosis.

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This child wanted to make a list of what the teachers liked.

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This year a few of our Kindergartners wrote their own books.  (Really, wrote and illustrated!)

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Some of the afternoon children wrote postcards home.  Hopefully they were received in the mail this week!

We provide many opportunities for writing in our classroom!  It is great fun to watch these skills develop!

Color mixing and Rainbows

The children have been learning about mixing colors, the color wheel and rainbows.

We have also been having fun mixing colors!

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We use the three primary colors.  The board shows the children to what colors to drop on each circle.

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The children squeeze the droplets of colored water.  Some children need a lesson on how to use the eye dropper or pipette.

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After all of the droplets are on the circles, the child uses a toothpick and mixes the colors.

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This allows the child to see how these colors combine to create different colors and shades of colors.

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Next, the child places a paper towel on top of the colors.

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The towel absorbs the colors.

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Sometimes the child pushes down the towel to be sure the colors show up.

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Pick up and you have a color wheel!

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The children also wanted to make a large rainbow for the classroom.

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They cut out various shades of different colors from magazine photos.

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The children spent time gluing the pieces to a large poster board.

 

 

Tulips

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The children have been learning about various flowers we are seeing out and about in our environment.

Since we have seen many tulips,  we decided to have some tulip art!

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The children use a foam core board and color in the stem.

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They place their petals on the board to fill in the tulip.

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Liquid starch is used to paste down the tissue paper petals.

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The children put these on the drying rack after they are finished so they can dry.

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Happy Belated Earth Day

For Earth day this year, we decided to make paper with the children.

We first create a “slurry” which is chopped up paper in water.  The slurry is made in a special blender we have set aside for this project.

 

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We then set up the work.  This is not an independent work for younger children.

It also has MANY steps!

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We have two tin cans, one that have no top or bottom and the other has no top but does have a bottom.

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Once it is set up with mesh in the middle, we pour in the slurry.

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The excess water drips down and we empty out that can.

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We listen for drips.

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We take off the top tin can and empty out the bottom.

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There is still a lot of water that need to come out.

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We place another piece of mesh on the paper and push down to absorb the water.

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Once we squeeze the water out a few times we take off the mesh.

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We let the paper dry out and then we have recycled paper!

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We decided to have another experiment to look at what items would be better for the Earth in shipping!

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Biodegradable packing peanuts made from corn and Styrofoam packing peanuts were used.

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The one made from corn dissolved!

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The Styrofoam peanut did not dissolve.

All the children decided it would be better to use the item made from corn.

 

Mushrooms

We have been doing a lot of gardening and getting ready for spring.  This year we thought it would be fun to grow mushrooms!  We ordered a mushroom growing kit from a farmer and have begun this process.

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We showed the children the kit and talked about how mushrooms grow from spores.  They are really not a plant but have their own category as a fungi.  They actually obtain their nutrition by metabolizing non-living organic matter.

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These mushrooms came to us in compost.  We all took a turn smelling it and these were some of the comments:  It smells like: woods, moss and bark, chocolate, woodchips, bees and bark.  Some children just thought it was stinky.

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We put the dirt in a bucket.

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One of the children brought three cups of water.

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We then added water and mixed.

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The squeeze test is done to make sure it is moist enough.  For us it wasn’t so we added a bit more water.

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We then put this mix on top of the compost and mushroom spores.

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After this process was complete and everyone had a turn putting the dirt on top, some children wanted to make a sign.

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The moveable alphabet was used to write the words and then someone wrote them on paper.

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Lastly, some of the children went with a teacher to a dark, furnace room to place the mushrooms for optimal growing.   They need it to be dark and about 75 degrees.

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Inspired by the study of mushrooms, some of the children engaged in other activities.  One was making a paper mushroom.

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These types of activities require the child to use different types of tools such as a pencil or marker, glue, hole puncher.  All of these help to increase fine motor skills and connect the brain with the hand.

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Another fun activity was painting with mushrooms!  The child picks up a mushroom that is on the end of a plastic fork, dips in paint and creates their own picture.

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Lastly, some of the children like to create their own nomenclature book.

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We hope to have real mushrooms in a few weeks and will update the blog then!

 

 

Africa and Ancient Egypt

 

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We continued our cultural studies by investigating Africa and Ancient Egypt.  The afternoon children took a field trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology to learn more about Ancient Egypt.  https://www.lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/  This was extra fun and exciting because we took the bus there!  A docent met our group and took us around the museum.

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We saw real mummies and tombs.

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We saw toys children used back then.

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We looked at shoes, jewelry and oil lamps.

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We looked a different types of pottery.

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We had a great time at the Kelsey museum.

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In the classroom we continued to explore and learn about Africa.  We borrowed a “Civilization in a Crate” so the younger children could also be exposed to Ancient Egypt.

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We also had many other African items to investigate.

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Another way to learn about other cultures is to taste some of the food. The children helped to make couscous one day.  They first chopped the veggies and added them to the couscous for a treat one day.

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Finally, Lori from Drummunity came to see us again!

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She showed us many different types of clothing and instruments.  The children were able to explore and Lori helped explain what these instruments were made of and how to play them.

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Here are links to us jamming out with Lori:

Drumming Video 2015 3

Drumming Video 2015 1

Drumming Video 2014 2

Here is a link to Lori’s website: http://www.drummunity.com/

Thanks to Lori for coming out, to Kelsey Museum of Archaeology and to all the parents who went with us on the field trip!

 

 

The uses of plants

Spring is in the air!  With that we are planting, watering, growing and looking at the roots of plants.  We thought about exploring some of the varied uses of plants by dyeing yarn with onion skins.

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The children spent some time crunching up onion skins into a large pot.

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We added water to the pot which allows the color of the onion skins to come out.

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After a while we drained the water out so we could use it as the dye.  We used white wool yarn and soaked it overnight.

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The natural onion skin dye turned the white yarn into the orange yarn as seen below.

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Culture- India and Australia

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Two of our wonderful families are from India and helped teach us about Indian culture!  They brought in beautiful clothes! (and a baby sister!)

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They brought scarves and bindi for our children to wear. We also had a little dancing game to Indian music.

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Special food was eaten.

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They passed around different lentils to observe.

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During the week we also made rangoli with colored sand as well as lentils!

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When we studied Australia this year, we brought out objects that a former student brought from her trip.  The children always enjoy looking at money and other cultural objects.  We also look at pictures of animals from Australia.

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We enjoy Australian dot painting every year.

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Our friend Joel came to play his didgeridoo again for us this year.  The children had SO many questions for him!

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You can listen to the sound here:

A HUGE thank you to our parents and to our friend Joel for helping us to learn about different cultures!

Monoprint on Gelli plate

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The children were so excited for this art lesson today!  They used a Gelli plate to create a print of their own.

First step is to write your name on the paper.

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Paint on the Gelli plate.

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Push down the paper on the plate.

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Carefully peel back the paper to reveal the print.

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Place on the drying rack.

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Here are many different prints.

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The children took care to clean off the plate when they were done.  This required them to walk to the bathroom holding the sponge in a bowl  They used the sponge to wipe off the plate so it was clean for the next person.

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The children rinsed out the paint and then squeezed out the sponge.

There will be many Gelli prints this week!