Thursday, February 18, 2016

We All Need Trees

Tapping our Maple Tree with Mr. Joe
Students are often surprised to learn how many different products we get from trees. I use this activity to help students learn just how much we depend on trees in our daily lives.


Products are derived from all parts of a tree. Wood is one of the most obvious. It provides things such as lumber for houses, furniture, doors, picture frames, clocks, paintbrush handles, counters, cabinets, floors, pencils, spools for thread, etc. Cellulose is the major component of wood (and most other plant fiber). Paper is made from cellulose, and paper products include books, wrappers, cereal boxes, magazines, newspapers, food labels, etc. Besides being used to make paper, cellulose is an ingredient in many other products like carpeting, suntan lotion, and cosmetics.

Today we tapped a maple tree to use its sap. Of course, we're going to make maple syrup! Other trees may use the sap to make chewing gum, crayons, perfume and even soap. 

We even discussed other ways trees are used. A tree can be a home for a creature, food, a resting place, a climbing place and so much more. 

Animal Track Stencils

Indoor Activities

We do our best to stay outside with fresh air, creative play and natural learning, but some times it's just too cold and we bring our learning inside. Here are some activities and work the children participated in today.

Animal Track Stencils

Children use colored pencils and our animal stencils to make different animal tracks on paper. Most learners create a visual story about animals and their tracks. As they work I encourage children to tell their stories: What animal is in the story? Where is it coming from and where is it going? What is it doing? 

A great way to encourage children to tell more about their creations is to simply ask, "Tell me about your picture/creation/painting!" This is a more inviting way to show children your interest in their work rather than calling it something it's not or saying, "What is it?" This could be very discouraging to a child because everyone should be able to see they just drew a bear eating fish from a river!

Here is an excerpt from a website 10 Things to Stop Saying To Your Kids (And What To Say Instead) Click here to view the other 9 tips.

What not to say-“What a beautiful picture!”

When we put our evaluations and judgments onto a child’s artwork, it actually robs them of the opportunity to judge and evaluate their own work.
Instead try, “I see red, blue and yellow! Can you tell me about your picture?” By making an observation, rather than offering an evaluation, you’re allowing your child to decide if the picture is beautiful or not, maybe she intended it to be a scary picture. And by asking her to tell you about it, you’re inviting her to begin to evaluate her own work and share her intent, skills that will serve her creativity as she matures and grows into the artist she is.

Color Mixing

Today we introduce our Montessori-Inspired coloring mixing work. This work gives children direct experience using three primary colors to create secondary colors. 

The cups are filled with red, blue and yellow solutions made from food coloring and water. Then children use eye droppers to mix yellow & red-like magic, orange appears! Learners continue to experiment with blue and yellow (green) and red and blue (violet). When they are finished, they empty the ice cube tray into our water bucket, rinse it and clean up the area with a sponge so it is ready for the next friend.

Color Mixing Work

Dramatic Play

Yes, we still have our kitchen in our dramatic play area, but we needed a new theme. Welcome to our SHOP! We have a workbench and LOTS of tools. Today we had a bike and a car repair. Seems to be something happening to the tires! You will see some great pictures of our friends in hard hats and with tool belts. Our dramatic play area encourages children into parallel, associative and eventually cooperative play. Cooperative play allows children to interact with others, express their thoughts and try out new ideas. It also promotes social growth and sharing.
Here is an article from Early Childhood News about the 6 stages of play and how you can Encourage Cooperative Play

Track Puzzles

Below you can see two children exploring with our Track Puzzles. This is an example of cooperative play. The girls are working together to match an animal to its track. 

Color Mixing & Track Puzzles

Shaking our sillies out in Morning Meeting

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