This term our kinder inquiry project is titled ‘What is Underneath?’ We began with a class discussion and drawing of all the things we thought might be under our skin. This was a fantastic insight into their prior knowledge. The children were most interested in bones; how they look and how they move. We borrowed a skeleton from our local high school, which the children named Frank, and did some amazing sketches. We used a variety of materials to create skeletons; foil, clay, pasta and collage. Some of the children finally created a beautiful wire sculpture which is hanging in our kinder. The children then began to discuss how our brains send messages to make our bodies move, and how this relies on the heart to work. We had many theories: that we have an extra bone that is sent around our body, that our legs can read or that we have a special gel that tells us what to do.
At the back of my kinder classroom we have a bag area and some sitting space. This year with a relatively large class I felt that the space was not utilised to its potential! With some guidance from my teaching partner, and 20 minutes after school, we created a beautiful space to play and discover. Next I think we might introduce the book Cat and Fish Go to Sea written by Joan Grant and Neil Curtis.
This week we tried something a little out of the box! My teaching partner assured me that the kids wouldn’t freak out… Me, on the other hand, she could guarantee!!
She brought in some lamb hearts for the children to look at, touch and draw. I felt a little sick touching them but, hey, I find it hard to dice chicken for dinner!! The children had no problem discussing, feeling and exploring the lamb hearts. After we had documented all of the comments they made in small groups, we came back together as a class and looked online at some heart animations. As we watched the animations we came across the sound of a heart beat. The children lay down with their hands on their hearts and listened to the beating of their own heart.
As part of our learning on homophones and homonyms, this week we had a close look at that pesky trio to, two and too.
After using our mini whiteboards for lots of practice, a problem was then presented (supposedly sent from The Official International Bureau for the English Language)…
“TO/TWO/TOO – there are TOO many! You have TO decide which one must go so we only have TWO!”
In small groups, students were asked to decide which word we could do away with and to provide reasons for their decision. This created some lively discussions and students had to think deeply about the meaning and usage of each word. As always, creativity was rewarded and points went to one team who suggested a brand new word for the number two – ‘mog’. Brilliant!
We debated the final result as a whole class and had fun doing so. A particularly convincing example highlighted concern for Shakespeare, as without ‘to’ his famous line would be a little lacking – ‘…be or not be that is the question…’ Not bad for 10 year olds!
I’ve used the debate format only a few times before. After a lesson on measuring length we debated that millimetres were too small and therefore unnecessary. I would love to hear of any interesting debate topics you have used in your classroom to elicit critical thinking and reflection. Please share!
This week my students have enjoyed sculpting and painting mini pinch pots for their mums in anticipation of Mothers’ Day.
We used Das air dry clay in both white and terracotta and I allowed for roughly 200 grams of clay per student. The instructions for the pinch pots were very straightforward, we simply rolled the clay into a ball then stuck in our thumb to create a hole. Then, by holding the clay in one hand and turning it constantly, we were able to use our other hand to thin and even out the edges of the pot. Some students were especially creative and turned theirs into heart shapes or their mother’s initial. Others used tools such as wooden skewers and texta lids to make patterns and marks in their designs.
I was able to discuss connections with this project and our new science unit ‘Materials and Their Properties’ by teaching new vocabulary such as ‘malleable’ and ‘pliable’. It’s always nice when topics are interrelated!
After two days of drying (the weather has been cold lately) we were ready to paint. We opted for neon colours as well as some beautiful metallic copper, gold and silver paints.
There were some beautiful results!
In spelling this week my Grade Fours celebrated the wedding of Q and U. This memorable occasion was, of course, to remind students that these two letters are always together in words. Students worked together in small groups to design and construct a QU wedding cake out of plasticine.
Some groups even challenged themselves to decorate their cake with QU words – can you spy a question mark, an equals sign, an antique chest of drawers, a queen’s crown and a quaint man’s black hat?!
Here’s hoping this creative, hands on task will strengthen their spelling skills and see them never separate Q and U again…’til death do they part!
On our latest class outing we did away with the traditional excursion worksheets, where meaningless facts, dates and answers are painstakingly copied out from museum display signs for fear of students not ‘learning’ anything during the experience. Instead we went for a much more meaningful and enjoyable option.
In their concertina-style reflection booklets students were asked to draw what they wanted to remember from the various places we visited. They also had sections for jotting down facts and feelings if they felt the need (a touch of De Bono and his coloured hats).
The other pages were ‘Questions to Ask the Experts’ and an A-Z brainstorming list of words associated with the topics covered on the excursion (a nice reflective activity for those fast eaters looking to fill in some extra time during our lunch break).
Thank you TMAG Education Team for suggesting this type of creative approach. Instead of nagging my students to complete their worksheets, they were free to simply be inspired and engaged by their experience.
Throughout the day I would look around and see someone doing a quiet sketch of something that had taken their eye, or another referring back to a question they had thought of to ask the tour guides, and others writing down certain facts that had interested them. Our booklets suited many types of learners and my students were in charge of their own museum adventure.
Can you guess each action?
We chose our favourite verb and then made these tin foil sculptures to represent the action.
We’re about to begin our unit on narrative writing – I’m thinking these tin foil on black paper collages would make excellent illustrations for their stories when published into little books…? I’ll keep you posted!
Thank you Mrs T for the pinspiration!
Something new to my classroom this year was the purchase of a class set of mini whiteboards. My students were extremely chuffed to receive their very own whiteboard marker and couldn’t wait to get started incorporating these ‘new toys’ into our lessons and activities.
It’s been so liberating for them to be able to participate instantly in class discussions by writing or drawing their ideas, instead of wearing out their raised arm waiting for their chance to speak. They simply hold up their board and I am able to acknowledge their contribution and classmates can simply see each other’s thoughts.
Instructional teaching sessions have become much more engaging and dynamic with these boards in my students’ laps. So far we have used them for brainstorming, history timelines, scoreboards, maths quizzes, class voting, note taking and summarising.
To top it all off, it’s been an excellent way to reduce our use of paper in the classroom!
I first heard of using these mini whiteboards through UK educator, Dylan Wiliam, and am on the look out for more innovative uses of these amazing little tools, so please share!