27 September, 2011

Why is it called Fall anyway?

The thought provoking questions:

Why is this season called Fall?  
What falls?
If you drop any two items at the same time, which falls first?  Why?
Can you control where something falls?
Can you control how fast something falls?

and the biggie . . .


I thought you, dear readers, might like to see few photos of the aftermath of today's Fall exploration.  Mess means good learning experience, right?  : )

I wonder what tomorrow will bring?!?!


And the next day . . .

And the children used up all the masking tape.  I need to buy that stuff in bulk!

Next week's Fall work, Tall Fall Painting!

25 September, 2011

Whistle with an acorn cap!

Do you know people who can whistle through their fingers?  I do, but sadly, I am not one of them. Sometimes I so wish I could though.  It would be a handy trick to be able to pull from my "pocket."  I can however, pull an acorn cap from my pocket and use it whistle - loudly!  My children and my students are always so impressed and it is sometimes the only way I can call them in from outside!  : )

You can whistle with an acorn cap too!  Here's how:

Find a whole, unbroken acorn cap.

Make a fist with both hands, and place your hands, knuckle to knuckle.

Place the acorn cap on the top of your pointer fingers and hold it in place with both of your thumbs.

Separate your thumbs slightly, bending them into a "v" shape.  (Make sure the rest of the acorn cap is covered with the bottom part of your thumbs.)

Blow on your thumb knuckles.

A little tip:  Okay I know this sounds gross, but it works so . . .

Sometimes it helps to lick the insides of your thumbs.  It makes the whistle more clear.

Oh, and don't give up. When you finally get the hang of this, the resounding whistle is worth all the work, I promise!


22 September, 2011

Displaying Children's Art: Self Portraits and Self Sculptures

Displaying art work is not my strong suit, but I feel like I am improving, slowly but surely.

Here is my most recent artwork display, my students' self portraits.

As you can see, each self portrait has been mounted on black construction paper, to better show off the portraits' colors and shapes.  Additionally, each portrait is hung directly below a photograph of each child. The portraits have been attached to window screens which I picked up at a consignment store, for $3 each.  That was a little more than I wanted to spend, but the screens were brand new, and I thought they would also be useful for paper making, later in the year.  

On the back of the screens, I hung the students' self sculptures made out of colored wire.  

The wire was a difficult medium for the children, but they seemed to enjoy working with it, and I feel that it was a good challenge.  Afterwards I placed the left over colored wire on the art shelves, and now that the children have some experience working with it, I hope they will feel free to try it again - for more open ended projects, perhaps later in the year.

How do you display your students' work?

17 September, 2011

My classroom (after one month)

Okay, so after a month I am starting to feel a little more settled into my new classroom.  It is looking a little less bare, and a little more messy, but also is beginning to reflect the personalities of my students!

Without further ado, here is a peek into some of my inside space, mess and all!  Enjoy!

 our Science area

Housekeeping (with the new roof)

View of the roof, from below.  The children beaded all the diagonal wire pieces!

Awwww.  Our classroom babies

More Housekeeping

Dress up silks

Some of our loose parts, in action!

Magical potion, created in our Art area

The story stump

Refrigerator for snacks and food works

Carpet for stories and individual work (also excellent for jumping from continent to continent!)

a rather unattractive but useful table, just the right height for the children to kneel at for writing, working puzzles, or whatever!  This is actually the writing area, with mailboxes for each child.  It hasn't been too busy yet, but I am anticipating lots of work going on in here later!

Cozy Library and small play space

Block area, in action!

Working with aluminum foil, in the block area

Sometimes lessons are learned the hard way (at our reflection table)
Rocks and glass bowls do not mix well!

Light exploration, at the reflection table

So there you have it.  I wonder what the next few months will bring?  

How is your classroom shaping up?

14 September, 2011

More Reflections

Today our class went for a walk around our school, searching for reflections. Check out what we found!

The children found their images in . . .

the water table,

a gravy boat,

a trophy,

hallway windows,

the upper school's microwave,

the common room fireplace,

outside windows,


doors leading outside,

and glass ornaments!

We also spied this fabulous reflection!  No, it is not a giant moon hanging in the forest behind our school.  It is a reflection of a large circular window that is above and behind where we sat when I took this picture.  The children especially loved this reflection.

Tomorrow we will start constructing a book with these images.  The children will add the dialogue, and soon we will have a new book for our classroom library!  

13 September, 2011


This past week my class has been very interested in the idea of reflections.  The interest started when one of my students returned home from a trip to Chicago, talking all about his experience at The Bean. He shared photographs and told the whole class all about it!

What is The Bean?  Well . . .

Cloud Gate (the sculpture's real name), a public sculpture by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor, is the centerpiece of the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park within the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois, United States. The sculpture and AT&T Plaza are located on top ofPark Grill, between the Chase Promenade and McCormick Tribune Plaza & Ice Rink. Constructed between 2004 and 2006, the sculpture is nicknamed "The Bean" because of its bean-like shape. Made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It is 33 by 66 by 42 feet (10 by 20 by 13 m), and weighs 110 short tons (100 t; 98 long tons).

Bean recreation, after Day 1
After the exciting and enticing explanation about his trip to The Bean, E and a group of students headed over to the block area, to begin work on recreating it.  This naturally involved LOTS of tape and aluminum foil, and the project is still underway.  Much of the students' discussion while they were working centered around reflections, what a person would see if he was under The Bean (his own reflection), and what people saw when they look at the side of it (the reflection of the sky and the city of Chicago.  

The students have lost a bit of their steam in The Bean block recreation so I was happy to be able to introduce some reflection exploration into our Science area.  

This table (as you can see in the photograph above) has a section that lights up.  This adds another element to the exploration.  Students may examine the relationship between reflections and light as well as simply reflection.  It is especially nice that this table can be placed in front of a sunny window.  That way the children can have light from two very different sources.  Bonus! 

Materials on the Reflection Table:

  • silk scarves
  • mirrored trays
  • acrylic "ice cubes" in magenta and orange
  • set of nesting mirrors
  • plastic cocktail stirring sticks
  • a hologram-looking paper hanging star (I don't think you can see this in the picture)
  • feathers
  • mirrored tongs
  • hanging set of green glass ball Christmas ornaments
  • sea shells
  • translucent bathtub suction treads
  • acrylic blue, white, and orange gems, sorted into a wooden and a felted bowl 
and of course, the piece de resistance . . .
  • the disco ball!
I hope to have more photographs of the children's exploration of this area, later in the week and hopefully beyond.  I have more items to add as time progresses, so I hope that will keep their interest up. I am excited to see where this reflections work goes!

Have your students explored this topic?  What kinds of projects did you do?  Please share!  Thank you!

Update:  Here are a few photos of my students, hard at work at the reflection table!

Ooops.  They learned (the hard way) that dropping big rocks in glass bowls is not such a good idea!