Forest Kindergarten Oaks

NEWS FROM THE WILD – WEEK 2

The Oaks class continued our theme of At Home in the Wild this week with exploration of new parts of Woodend, dramatic play at Hilltop Home, and building homes large and small. We are purposefully guiding them to the many magical destinations at Woodend, so that they begin to create mental maps and emotional connections to our place.

We started out the week wet and wild with our first rain day. It was a perfect gentle rain, with just enough water to fill one section of the creek. Before leaving the playground, we watched water pouring off the parking lot through a small hole in the wall. We made guesses about where all that water was coming from. After lunch at the garden, we explored the under-construction rain garden and observed how water will be collected as it runs in from the upper parking lots and road. From there, we decided to walk along the creek bed to Hilltop. The Oaks walked straight through the water, testing their rain boots and gear. (Note: the Montgomery County Kindergarten curriculum this week included a science goal of “make connections between the weather and clothing choices.” Check!).

At Hilltop Home, we set up our tarp tent and found that it kept us all snug and dry as we held our circle meeting and read the book A Dark Dark Cave by candlelight. Our books sometimes tie in directly with our theme, sometimes they are chosen for pure joy of story, and sometimes to inspire new dramatic play arcs. This one did all three as it is about children exploring a cave, which (we discover at the end) was actually a blanket fort full of imagination.

Tuesday we spent the afternoon at our Hilltop Home. We introduced the Oaks jobs at Circle Meeting. The six-leg team started out our job rotations, and the four-leg team will have jobs next week. Jobs include helping with: Lunch, Wagon, Bell, Tent and Share (the “tell” part of show and tell). After reading Stick and Stone, about friendship and kindness, the Oaks got busy with tools, dramatic play and fort-building. The excavation pit yielded many precious stones, which were counted and lined up on a nearby log. With capes donned, the Superheros planned ways to defeat the bad guys, “who want to destroy the Earth!”

Wednesday we read the book Not a Stick (about all the things you can pretend with a stick) and also talked about stick safety. We then headed down to a new log climbing area, still to be named. There are always things to see and do along the way, like a deer, a hollow tree, mushrooms and a butterfly wing. At the climbing area, the Oaks all worked together to plan and build a bark roof between two fallen logs. This was the first time they really joined as a larger team to problem-solve and work together towards a goal – two of our key Forest Kindergarten goals.

Thursday we had our first birthday ceremony. We are using a Montessori ritual with the birthday child circling the sun for each year of her life and sharing what she could do at each age. Our birthday girl proclaimed that she will “Climb a really high mountain” now that she is five. We read the book We Were Tired of Living in a House. We brought real nails for the real hammers, talked again about tool use and safety, measured logs and drilled many holes. Some of the Oaks worked on building smaller homes for the toy insect families, as well as a “front porch” for one of the forts.

Today we read Home, which uses beautiful illustrations of people and animal homes from around the world, to inspire building ideas and thoughts about homes. We trekked all the way across Woodend from Hilltop to the Bamboo Castle. As we looked down at the bamboo, we saw a fox, sitting with ears perked watching us. What a welcome!

After snack, we unveiled our brand-new child-sized bow saws! They are made by Haba, but only sold in Europe. We talked a friend into bring us two from Switzerland. They are tiny, but just right for the Oaks’ hands, and they are real tools. After a safety demonstration, the children practiced solo-sawing and also team sawing. Each chose the size branch they felt like tackling. Forest Kindergarten ingredients: fine and gross-motor practice, plus a lot of negotiating, turn-taking and team work. Then add a dose of self-confidence and pride to round it all off. They only let go of those saws because we promised we’d have them all year. And the bamboo was calling…

So, we headed into the dark and just spooky-enough bamboo castle. This large grove of bamboo is down by the amphitheater and offers a few rooms within the towering bamboo, as well as tricky passageways between the open spaces. At least one Oak attempted to climb straight up! Others warned us that one of the rooms was actually a poison cave. We will definitely be going back there next week, because who can resist a poison cave? Trouble and danger are key to dramatic play, which  is key to the development of rich oral language and social skills. Plus, we barely got started learning how to tie bamboo together with twine, and we need to become experts in order to construct our Hilltop shelter!

Next week: animal homes, more bamboo and pond exploration, building and play, and a trek to the Far Corner of Woodend.

News from the Wild: Week 2

The Oaks class continued our theme of At Home in the Wild this week with exploration of new parts of Woodend, dramatic play at Hilltop Home, and building homes large and small. We are purposefully guiding them to the many magical destinations at Woodend, so that they begin to create mental maps and emotional connections to our place.

We started out the week wet and wild with our first rain day. It was a perfect gentle rain, with just enough water to fill one section of the creek. Before leaving the playground, we watched water pouring off the parking lot through a small hole in the wall. We made guesses about where all that water was coming from. After lunch at the garden, we explored the under-construction rain garden and observed how water will be collected as it runs in from the upper parking lots and road. From there, we decided to walk along the creek bed to Hilltop. The Oaks walked straight through the water, testing their rain boots and gear. (Note: the Montgomery County Kindergarten curriculum this week included a science goal of “make connections between the weather and clothing choices.” Check!).

At Hilltop Home, we set up our tarp tent and found that it kept us all snug and dry as we held our circle meeting and read the book A Dark Dark Cave by candlelight. Our books sometimes tie in directly with our theme, sometimes they are chosen for pure joy of story, and sometimes to inspire new dramatic play arcs. This one did all three as it is about children exploring a cave, which (we discover at the end) was actually a blanket fort full of imagination.

Tuesday we spent the afternoon at our Hilltop Home. We introduced the Oaks jobs at Circle Meeting. The six-leg team started out our job rotations, and the four-leg team will have jobs next week. Jobs include helping with: Lunch, Wagon, Bell, Tent and Share (the “tell” part of show and tell). After reading Stick and Stone, about friendship and kindness, the Oaks got busy with tools, dramatic play and fort-building. The excavation pit yielded many precious stones, which were counted and lined up on a nearby log. With capes donned, the Superheros planned ways to defeat the bad guys, “who want to destroy the Earth!”

Wednesday we read the book Not a Stick (about all the things you can pretend with a stick) and also talked about stick safety. We then headed down to a new log climbing area, still to be named. There are always things to see and do along the way, like a deer, a hollow tree, mushrooms and a butterfly wing. At the climbing area, the Oaks all worked together to plan and build a bark roof between two fallen logs. This was the first time they really joined as a larger team to problem-solve and work together towards a goal – two of our key Forest Kindergarten goals.

Thursday we had our first birthday ceremony. We are using a Montessori ritual with the birthday child circling the sun for each year of her life and sharing what she could do at each age. Our birthday girl proclaimed that she will “Climb a really high mountain” now that she is five. We read the book We Were Tired of Living in a House. We brought real nails for the real hammers, talked again about tool use and safety, measured logs and drilled many holes. Some of the Oaks worked on building smaller homes for the toy insect families, as well as a “front porch” for one of the forts.

Today we read Home, which uses beautiful illustrations of people and animal homes from around the world, to inspire building ideas and thoughts about homes. We trekked all the way across Woodend from Hilltop to the Bamboo Castle. As we looked down at the bamboo, we saw a fox, sitting with ears perked watching us. What a welcome!

After snack, we unveiled our brand-new child-sized bow saws! They are made by Haba, but only sold in Europe. We talked a friend into bring us two from Switzerland. They are tiny, but just right for the Oaks’ hands, and they are real tools. After a safety demonstration, the children practiced solo-sawing and also team sawing. Each chose the size branch they felt like tackling. Forest Kindergarten ingredients: fine and gross-motor practice, plus a lot of negotiating, turn-taking and team work. Then add a dose of self-confidence and pride to round it all off. They only let go of those saws because we promised we’d have them all year. And the bamboo was calling…

So, we headed into the dark and just spooky-enough bamboo castle. This large grove of bamboo is down by the amphitheater and offers a few rooms within the towering bamboo, as well as tricky passageways between the open spaces. At least one Oak attempted to climb straight up! Others warned us that one of the rooms was actually a poison cave. We will definitely be going back there next week, because who can resist a poison cave? Trouble and danger are key to dramatic play, which  is key to the development of rich oral language and social skills. Plus, we barely got started learning how to tie bamboo together with twine, and we need to become experts in order to construct our Hilltop shelter!

Next week: animal homes, more bamboo and pond exploration, building and play, and a trek to the Far Corner of Woodend.

 

 

The Detective Post #2

News From the Outdoors:

The first full week of school kicked off as the Nature Detectives were greeted with rainy weather. With the rain pouring down the class donned their rain gear headed out towards the stumps and the wobbly logs and then down the trail towards the bridge for some log rolling.

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Toadally Awesome

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Slug Life

Both classes made lots of great discoveries under the logs. We spotted potato bugs, millipedes, centipedes, ants, worms, leopard slugs and more. The AM class rolled logs and got to see both a frog and a toad! They were able to observe the differences and similarities between the two oft confused creatures and also noticed how both critters use camouflage to blend in with their environment. The PM class also found a few toads of various sizes and even spotted (and trapped for further observation) a mouse on the playground!

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Bridge Builders Admiring Their Work

For the remaining hikes this week we continued to extend our exploration of Woodend by heading out to a favorite area we like to call the lookout. The lookout is a large wooded clearing with an observation deck. Its proximity to the creek, a large stick nest, and lots of kid-friendly climbing and exploring spots make it a favorite. While there the kids were able to not only roll some more logs, but climb some trees, build with sticks, and play some hide and seek.

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Fun with Fungi

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May the Forest be With You

News from the Classroom:

Throughout this entire week we’ve been talking a lot about some rules that are helpful, not only at school, but also everywhere we go.  During our meeting times at the campfire rug, the kids met two helpful turtles who talked about our rules. The kids have lots of great ideas about how to be safe, kind, responsible, and respectful and it was great to hear their ideas and see them put their ideas into practice!

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Party Like a Rock Star

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What Does the Fox Say?

The Nature Detectives had lots of fun exploring the many learning centers in the classroom this week. At the raccoon table the kids got to paint with finger paints, early in the week and later, they used natural items from nature in place of paint brushes to make some paintings.

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Conductor in TRAINing

For constructive play, the kids built with duplos, built ramps, roadways, garages, and more with the blocks and car toys, and also constructed massive rail systems with the trains!  They also worked on some puzzles, and continued to play in the dramatic play area with the detective kits, puppets and stuffed animals.

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Midway through the week we swapped out the water in the lab table for moon sand (a shape-able sticky sand), treasure, and scoops! The kids enjoyed searching for little gems in the moon sand, as well as using the adhesive nature of the sand to build mountains, castles and other inventive structures!

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Sherlock Cones

In the AM Class we also celebrated our first Birthday! The kids worked hard to make their birthday pages to add to Mayim’s birthday book!

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Feeling Sluggish

Books We Read:

Wet World by Norma Simon

Talk and Work it Out by Cheri J. Meiners

Sand Castle by Brenda Shannon Yee

Play With Me by Marie Hallets

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Weekly Top Hits:

Here we are Together

 

Clean Up Song

 

Goodbye Song

 

Class Rules (tune: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

Here are rules for you and me

See how useful they can be

Show respect, be safe and kind

Be responsible all the time

These are rules that we all know

and we follow these rules wherever we go

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pm-6

I Toad You So!

Spoiler Alert:

Next week we’ll start talking about farms and harvests in preparation for our first field trip!

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The Detective Post #1

News from the Outdoors

The Nature Detectives kicked of the year with some exciting exploration of both the sanctuary and our natural playground! We embarked on some grand construction projects in the sand box, as well as dug for treasure with different types of tools.  Inside the sandbox the detectives even uncovered, what was dubbed, “the uni-goat,” a small, green toy goat that the kids noticed only had one horn!

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The sandbox crew

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Wheelin’ and dealin’

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Meeting on the stage

The classes enjoyed exploring both the meadow and children’s garden this week! In the meadow, the detectives followed the bird boxes, noticing the different materials used to make each nest. They also experimented with measuring, finding flowers and grasses of different heights and comparing them to our bodies! We found that the yellow and purple flowers were taller than most of our heads!

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Bird box observations

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I-Spy a Tiger Swallowtail

On Thursday, both classes enjoyed a visit to the children’s garden to practice our Detective super senses! We learned that as Nature Detectives, the best tools we can use for exploring we actually carry with us at all times! The Detectives practiced using their owl eyes for spying butterflies, their fox ears for listening to crickets, their noses to smell the different herbs (and compost) and their hands to feel the different textured plants.

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Visiting the compost station

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News from the Classroom

This week the Detectives began their indoor exploration with some cubby beautification! Each student got a chance to decorate their own Detective bag, which will come to and from school everyday, as well as paint with water colors to create their own cubby tags that will hang throughout the year.

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Paint no thang

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🎶 Paint no mountain high enough 🎶

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Decorating Detective bags

In the dramatic play area, the kids were able to also dress up as detectives inside, using binoculars to spy animals near and far! We enjoyed play dough and shaving cream at our sensory table, as well as splashing around in bubbles inside the lab table. The unit and half unit blocks were introduced for building this week, as well as some pattern making with butterfly connectagons. We also worked on a bug puzzle on the campfire carpet, highlighting many of the bugs we spied this week!

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Detective at work

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High Five!

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Butterfly connectagons

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Alls well that ends Shell

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We also started off the year by reading, The Kissing Hand, a story about Chester the raccoon and his first day of school. At the end of the story we learned how to say “I love you,” in sign language, and each Detective got to go home with heart stamped on their palm, to make their very own kissing hand!

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Books we Read

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

Bears New Friend by Karma Wilson

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Making a hiking sandwich!

Weekly Top Hits

Here We Are Together

Here we are together, together, together

Here we together at the Nature Preschool,

There’s.. (child’s name) and (child’s name).. etc.. and everyone!

Here we are together, we are happy you are here!

 

Clean-up Song

We looked at the clock and what does it say,

Now its time to put everything away,

Clean up time (x2)

Now its time to put everything away

 

Goodbye Song

Goodbye, Goodbye, to you and you and you (x2)

A big goodbye, a small goodbye,

A high goodbye, a low goodbye,

Goodbye, goodbye, to you and you and you, cha-cha-cha!

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Spoiler Alert:

Next week we are talking continuing to talk about how to be a Nature Detective!

News from the Wild: Forest Kindergarten Oaks Week 1

The Oaks class is starting their year with the theme At Home in the Wild. After a picnic lunch, we start each day at our Hilltop Home. It’s steep climb, but the Oaks get the wagon up the hill!

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At the “gate” to Hilltop, mud faces welcome the children to their home in the wild. We make a circle with our tree cookie seats, the children find their name stones, and we start our day with a centering chime and then a song. This month we’re singing:

I have a friend whose name is _______,                                                                                                         And we have fun together.                                                                                                                                        We create and play and explore all day                                                                                                                  In every kind of weather!

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After circle, we have story time and on Orientation days, we read the book Happy, about feelings and facial expressions. We talked about how Shannon and Chelsea’s mud faces felt (Glad and Curious), and then headed out to the pond to find some mud. Some of the Oaks were really INTO the mud, and some made their own faces. Others got busy exploring the pond and working together to catch a wood frog.

On our first day with the whole class we read the book Finding Wild, and then headed out into the woods to discover a new climbing area the children are calling the Tree Climber. Lots of climbing, balancing and digging out rotten wood ensured. We practiced using a loupe to look closely at a millipede and a cicada exoskeleton. The afternoon classes practically flew by!

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Negotiating the climb

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Time to get to know each other.

Friday we spent the morning at our Hilltop Home. We read Roxaboxen, and then the children finally got to see what was in our big storage bin. They quickly got busy. The superheros (look for capes) set up a base inside our large tarp tent, the engineers worked on building stick forts to keep out bad guys, the builders drilled holes and hammered nails into fallen logs, the diggers excavated, and the chefs set up a bakery.

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Story time

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Real tools!

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Sanding his seat.

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A door made with twine will definitely keep the bad guys out.

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Hunting for baking supplies

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The superheros take a break for snack.

Next week, we’ll continue to make ourselves at home in the wild, by exploring and naming more of Woodend’s special places.

Our closing song this month is:

No one looks the way I do, I have noticed that it’s true.                                                                                       No one talks the way I talk, no one walks the way I walk.

No one plays the way I play, no one says the things I say.                                                                                          I am special, I am me. There’s no one I’d rather be!

 

The Detective Post #30

News from the Nature Detectives

Wow, we cannot believe how this year has flown by! The Nature Detectives have explored Woodend throughout the seasons, finding Monarchs in the Meadow, experimenting with ice in the pond, and hunting for frogs this spring! This week, the Detectives enjoyed some special days at school, topped off with our Summer Celebration with all of you! Here are a few highlights from the week.

All Outdoors Day

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Oh Deer- how adorable!

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Frog serenade

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Frog on a log

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Well, Well, Well, What do we have here?

Water Day

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A day at the spa

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H2O-Yeah

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Allstars

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DIY Sprinkler

Wheels Day

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Wheel be comin’ round the mountain

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We had a wheelie fun day!

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Chalk it up to good luck!

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They see me rollin’

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Snack attack

We have had such an amazing year, exploring and discovering here at Woodend. We hope everyone has a wonderful summer and we cannot wait to hear about what adventures you all take next!

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Detective Post #29

News From the Outdoors:

It was another rain-soaked week here at the Nature Preschool, but the Nature Detectives were undeterred by  the wet weather and continued to learn about water, aquatic habitats and ducks. On Monday we began to learn about how water travels in a cycle and even created our very own waterway on the playground to show how water travels.

AM 1

Tree-Rex

PM 2

Taking a different root.

On our hikes we followed the stream that runs through Woodend to its ends to where it travels under the road in a large pipes. Along the way, we discovered some new and interesting places to explore and climb.

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We are over-elm-ingly skilled tree climbers!

PM 3

Working on their bucket list.

We also made a handful of visits to the pond to check in on the male and female Mallard Ducks that have taken up residence in the area. The AM Class observed the male preening its feathers one day and on Thursday the PM Class, approached the pond so quietly that upon arrival, discovered the male mallard with its bill tucked into its wing taking an afternoon nap!

PM 1

This bucket has more bugs than Windows 8!

Both classes dug out the nets and buckets on Thursday and had a blast catching aquatic bugs and tadpoles. The AM class caught a dragonfly nymph,which we could see was beginning to develop wings on its back, while the PM class caught a froglet, a large tadpole that is developing its hind legs.

AM 3

Unbe-leaf-able good times in the rain.

News From the Classroom:

Despite having so many epic adventures outside, the Nature Detectives also had a busy week in the classroom as well. The children had lots of fun building elaborate marble run structures on the carpet, building massive ramps in the block area and making bugs with the play-dough.

PM 1

Having a marble-ous time

AM 1

Dragonfly inspiration for our Summer Celebration decorations!

The Nature Detectives also enjoyed multi-colored water in the water table and enjoyed playing with the rubber duckies, basters, sponges and aquatic plants that were found in the water. Water popped up in more learning centers throughout the week, as we experimented with putting some white mums in vases with colored water to see if the water would change the color of the flower petals. We also used colored water and eye droppers to paint some coffee filters that will become dragonflies which will soon hang from our ceiling as decoration for our Summer Celebration next week!

AM 4

Water in the lab table is rad-duck-cal

With Ms. Susan the PM nature detectives learned about erosion and did an experiment to see how plants and trees help keep the soil where it’s at and keep water clean and healthy. Meanwhile, in the dramatic play area we set up a campsite for some Summery camping fun!

PM 2

Learning about clean water with Ms. Susan.

Books We Read:

Fireflies in the Night by Judy Hawes

In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming

The Magic School Bus: Wet All Over by Joanna Cole

AM 2

May the forest be with you.

Weekly Top Hits:

Firefly

Firefly, Shining in the night

Firefly, spectacle of light

Flashing, Flickering oh so bright

Firefly, shining in the night

Why are you hiding in the bright of the day?

Only igniting when the sun goes away

Flashing, Flickering

Flickering, Flashing

Flashing, Flickering

Firefly…shining in the night!

AM 2

Camping is in tents

 

Water Cycle Song (Tune: She’ll be Comin’ ’round the Mountain)

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does

It goes up as evaporation,

Forms clouds of condensation,

Falls down as precipitation,

Yes it does!

Spoiler Alert:

We’ll talk about what Summer at Woodend is like and have our Summer Celebration!

The Detective Post #28

News from the Outdoors

The Detectives splished and splashed this week around Woodend! With all the wet and rainy weather, we couldn’t stay away from the pond. Both classes kicked off our pond unit by spying a new set of mallards who have taken to hanging out in our pond-how exciting!

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You Quack me up!

We also investigated the smaller pond on Audubon, in the sunken garden below the compost bins. We created bamboo “fishing” poles, as well as baked another cake for our friend Chester the Raccoon!

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Bamboozled!

On Wednesday, the morning class found another toad, noticing the differences between the toad we found and what we know about frogs.

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I toad you, I toad you twice, we gon’ light it up, like its dynamite! 

The afternoon class enjoyed our weekly visit from Ms. Susan, where she talked to us about the frog life-cycle and showed us tadpoles from the pond!

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Tadpoles- How Ribbiting!

Both classes also experimented with water on the playground. We made our own rivers and experimented with water flow by digging our own water beds!

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Either Oar

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Cone Thugs-n-Harmony 

On Thursday, the AM class was able to catch a frog! We brought it back in a bucket which we transformed into the “frog habitat,” and kept on the stage to observe. The PM class was able to take the frog back to the creek later in the afternoon, and release it back into its natural habitat!

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Frog Squad

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Un-frogettable

 

News from the Classroom

The Detectives continued our pond discoveries inside the classroom this week! We had a multi-color pond open in the lab table, frog life cycle stamps in the play dough, as well as a frog hopping game in the discovery table!

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At the art table, we completed our last journals for the year! Each child got to make predictions and drawings about three seeds planted in sand, soil from the playground and soil from the pond! We also used droppers to create watery art on white felt to help decorate for Audubon After Dark later this month.

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The morning classes collected rocks and painted them as frogs on Wednesday, while the afternoon class went along with our “Habitat: Wetland edition” song, to create their own pond habitats with stamps.

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On Thursday, we began prepping for our Summer Celebration by making our celebration crowns! We used paper plates to create our very own frog hats, full with a long tongue to catch a snack.

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Hip Hop Horray!

Books we Read

Little Quack by Lauren Thompson

Goodnight my Duckling by Nancy Tafuri

From Frog to Tadpole by Wendy Pfeffer

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Weekly Top Hits

Habitat Song (Wetland Verse)

Habitat, Habitat,

Hafta have a Habitat, (3x)

You hafta have a Habitat to carry on!

A wetland is a habitat,

A very special Habitat,

It’s where the soggy soil’s at,

It helps to filter out the trash,

And makes a home for those who splash,

A wetland is a habitat that we depend on!

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Whatever floats your boat

Spoiler Alert:

Next week we are finishing up our Pond discovery and beginning to talk about Summer at Woodend!

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You shall not pass!