Monday, 24 November 2014

Patterns, Patterns, Everywhere!

The Full-Day Early Learning- Kindergarten Program states that EL-K teams should "introduce mathematical concepts in carefully planned hands-on activities at various learning centres in the classroom and provide children with opportunities to explore mathematical concepts and strategies in a wide variety of ways (pg. 93)." In addition, "children should be provided with ready access to a wide range of concrete materials such as found objects, so that they can develop beginning understanding of how to use various materials to explore mathematical concepts (pg. 94)." 

In order to see what the students already knew about patterns, a provocation was set up with the question, "Can you create a pattern?"

AAB Pattern: green, green, red

AB Pattern: orange, green

AB Patterns

We accessed prior knowledge during a Knowledge Building Circle by asking the question, 
"What is a pattern?"

We read books during our read-alouds to deepen the students understanding of patterns. "Reading books aloud and in shared reading contexts provides real links between literature and mathematical ideas, since some stories use mathematical terminology and/or contain illustrations of mathematical concepts (FD-ELK, pg. 93)."

Students explored different patterns during math exploration, small group, and whole group lessons. 

ABB Pattern using small and big corks

AB Pattern using links

ABB Pattern using coloured buttons

ABB Pattern using pattern blocks

Students also chose to draw and write about their patterns during their work on daily writing.

AB Pattern: star, heart

AB Pattern: blue, red

AB Pattern: blue, red

We worked with the students to help extend their learning and understanding by having them reflect on the patterns they created by asking them to "tell me about your pattern" and "what comes next?" Reflecting is one of the seven mathematical processes for early learners where they "demonstrate that they are reflecting on and monitoring their thinking to help clarify their understanding as they complete an investigation (FD-ELK, pg. 95)."

Monday, 17 November 2014

Exploring Seasonal Changes

I have learned that inquires can spark in many different ways; students interests, conversations, emerging events, provocations, observing children in play, or simply by stepping outside into the outdoors and embarking on a nature walk. 

On our very first nature walk as a class, we asked the question, "What do you see?" 
The students in Room 9 noticed "red and green trees," "Canada flag leaves," and "different leaves."

One student shared, during an outdoor Knowledge Building Circle, "I found a leaf and it is a red one.
I think fall is coming!"

We asked the students, "Why do you think fall is coming?" They were eager to share their theories- 
"Leaves are changing colours," "some places are green and red," "it is windy," "it is cold in fall," "leaves turn yellow, red, and brown and they fall on the ground."

At a later Knowledge Building Circle, the students began wondering about leaves-
"I wonder why leaves have two different colours Ms. Dutt." "I wonder why leaves are falling down to the ground." "I wonder why leaves fall down for winter." "I wonder why leaves turn from red to yellow to brown and why they fall and die." "I wonder why trees turn colours."

We read fiction and non-fiction books during our read-alouds to deepen our understanding of why leaves change colours and why leaves fall off trees. 

We explored the students wonders through the 100 languages of children.

Using our "Wonder Window" together with our light table to represent the changes we see.
Working together to draw what we see on a nature walk.
An Invitation to Learn about Fall.
Learning about the different types of leaves.
An Invitation to create with leaves and loose parts.
"A forest with lots of leaves falling because it's windy."

We also created Web Maps and Anchor Charts to organize our thinking and learning.

After several opportunities to explore, create, represent, and reflect, the students gathered to share their theories about why leaves change colours and why they fall off trees. 
"They need sun and water to stay green." "The sun makes it change colour because it goes away early." "Because it's fall and windy and they get sick." "When fall comes they change colours." "The sun points at the leaves." "They give trees sugar so they can grow." "The leaves give the trees food." "In fall trees don't need water and sugar." "The leaves are the trees body." "The leaves fall because the trees don't need them anymore." "The leaves get ready to fall because it's almost winter."

As a culminating task, the students worked on a collaborative art piece and story to represent their understanding of the changes in fall.

(Another wonderful example of a collaborative art piece and story can be found at by the inspiring Jocelyn Schmidt and Heidi Theis.) 

How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and colour are their last days.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Give Thanks~

I wanted to take this time to thank each and every one of you who has followed me on my journey, motivated and inspired me to share my journey, and encouraged me to keep setting new goals and reaching new heights as a learner and educator. It is with a grateful heart that I wish you and your loved ones a blessed and happy Thanksgiving weekend! 

Our students had to opportunity to share their wishes of thanks after reading
 "The Thankful Book" by Todd Parr.

The following are some things they were thankful for:

"I am thankful for my mom because she takes care of me."

"I am thankful for music because it makes me want to dance."

"I am thankful for my brother because he plays with me."

"I am thankful for my family because they give me lots of hugs."

"I am thankful for my teacher because she listens to me."

"I am thankful for my mom because she loves me."

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Slowing Down and Having Fun!

 "The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, 
but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work."

Every time I enter the classroom, I remind myself to slow down. It is easy to get caught up in "work" and getting things "done", but it is important to slow down and spend time with your students. In order to offer them learning opportunities that are based on their interests, strengths, and needs, we must first get to know our students and how they interact with each other and the materials in the environment. 

As much as I have been mindful in slowing down as an educator, the first month of school has flown by! Our classroom has come alive and we have been busy exploring, creating, learning and 
most importantly- having fun!

Learning to recognize our names using sign-in rocks
Learning to complete our daily drawing and writing for
Our Daily Writing Wall
Learning to develop a positive self-image by looking closely at ourselves
and creating self-portraits out of loose-parts
Learning to count and represent numbers to 5
to develop our 1-1 correspondence skills
Building and constructing with various materials
Representing what we see in nature during our nature walks
Answering the question "What do you see?" at the "Wonder Window"
Exploring how colours mix to make new colours at the light table
and creative arts area
Working together and sharing with each other
Exploring line using different materials
Looking closely at sunflowers and using watercolours to represent what we see
Making "wishes" for our children during Meet the Teacher Night
Slowing down and enjoying our time together!

~take it all one day at a time and enjoy the journey~

Monday, 22 September 2014

All About ME!

"In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it." 
Simon Nicholson, Architect  

During the first month of school, our goal as educators is to learn more about the students we will be working with over the year. In addition to completing assessments, interviews, and observations of the students during play, we set up a provocation or invitation to learn "about me." 

The above invitation to learn, includes circular bases which act as a canvas for creating self-portraits out of loose-parts. Wooden bowls hold various loose-parts such as buttons, gems, yarn and beads, and mirrors are to encourage students to look closely at the various features of their faces. A word wall specific to "self-portraits" and clipboards also help students to add detail to their work and allow them the opportunity to draw and write about what they create. Finally, a book relating to the provocation is added and would be shared during a group read-aloud to offer another way to connect the students to the invitation. Once the provocation is set up, the educator would choose a time in the day to sit and observe what the students do with the materials. 

The first student to visit this provocation sat down and looked in the mirror. She then began to place buttons on the circular base. She placed two at the top, side-by-side, another one underneath, and some along the bottom, resembling a face. I asked "What are you making?" The student points to her face with both hands and exclaims "face!" She begins adding buttons around the circle and points to her hair. Upon completion of her self-portrait, the student is invited to draw what she created. 


Another students' process was captured on video. This student independently decided "I want to draw what I made" when she finished creating her self-portrait. 

If we take time to slow down, observe, and record what students are saying, doing, and representing through purposefully planned play activities, we can learn so much from them and about them! 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Welcome to Room 9!

As I begin my fifth year in Full-Day Kindergarten, I am blessed to have been given a space that truly acts as the Third Educator for our youngest learners. The beautiful FDK extension that was built over the last year was ready to welcome our kindergarten students- both old and new this past week. My goal was to create an environment that would offer our students the freedom to explore based on their interests and needs, the ability to self-regulate through the space, and the independence to access materials as needed. I eagerly awaited their arrival to see how they would navigate through the space-  What would work well? What would I change? What would I add or remove?


The self-regulated snack area is new for me this year. Although I offered students the choice to eat when they were hungry in previous years, I had never dedicated a space to eating. Over the last week, students have been eating snack throughout the morning as they feel hungry. With reminders from myself or my teaching partner, they have been doing a great job at waiting for a spot to free up around the table.

The reading area complete with real logs, a carpet, "reading buddy bears" and books about school, is a great space for students to relax, rest, and read when they want some down time during a busy day. This space has been popular with the students during the first week of school, especially after lunch recess. 

Our creative area, equipped with pencils, crayons, markers, paper, scissors, glue, alphabet cards, dictionaries, "how to draw" books, and other writing materials, fills up quickly with students creations. The large space allows for ten students to create at one time, with ample space to spread out and share the materials as needed. The materials are organized by type of material and colour, and the students have been amazing at keeping them organized all week!

The building area is always under construction in our classroom! Using natural materials such as logs, wood, pinecones, and cork, the students plan and build elaborate structures all day long.

Our drama centre is currently set up as a kitchen and students were quick to incorporate loose parts from around the room to mix up in the pots and pans. The area was also intentionally set up close to the creative area so that writing materials are readily available to them. They were excited to use the post-it notes and pencils to record each other's food orders this week!

This year we have added a carpet to the math area in order for students to have a large space to explore the math manipulatives. The shelves are currently filled with materials to support children in counting and one-to-one correspondence, as well as measuring big and small. Having added the carpet on the third day of school, I already see a difference in how the students interact with the materials, compared to using them at a table. It is a great addition to our room!

This is the area where we gather for whole group activities. The students have been doing an excellent job at "showing five" at the carpet. We have been reading stories, playing games, singing songs, and sharing our learning through community circles throughout the week. 

"We need to think about creating classroom environments that give children the opportunity for wonder, mystery, and discovery; an environment that speaks to young children's inherent curiosity and innate yearning for exploration is a classroom where children are passionate about learning and love school." 
Heard & McDonough