Friday, September 23, 2011

Island Life

(pictures to follow. . .maybe)

Our theme this year for preschool is Around the World.  Each month we will travel to a different continent.  To prepare for our trip around the world,  we have spent September learning about maps and the early Earth.  All the land on the earth started as a single island and island fever was high this week as we learned all about what it means to be an island.

On Monday, we found out what makes an island. . .namely, a lot of water, and pointed out islands on the map.  We introduced our new words for the week:  on, my and jump and read the beautifully illustrated book "On My Island" by Marie-Louise Gay to help us get a feel for those words.  The kids helped me put the new words on the apple chart and we took turns bringing them up to class and putting them back.  Then, we had our daily Word Picker pick out our challenge words for the week:  legs, monkey, red, crawling and bib.  We learned the colors in Spanish (as tropical islands are very colorful) and learned that each Spanish color has it's own action!
We learned what an ukulele is and sang "Pineapple Princess" while I played.
Then, we took turns being the teacher and circled words that had the 'short e' sound on our big chart.  At table time, we used our markers and white boards to practice writing some of the words that have the short e sound in the middle.  Some of the kids are getting to be good writers!  Others are good drawers. . .but we are working on the difference!
After a yummy snack and some play time, we introduced Geoff Slater, a modern artist who lives in New Brunswick.  Check out his website at  He paints beautiful pictures of things he sees outside using a techniques called 'Amaze Art' that uses one continuous line to paint a picture.  Our study of line and preparation to study shape was really enhanced by looking at his art and trying to make one ourselves.  It is hard to leave space between lines like he does!  It really is Amaze-ing!
Wednesday is always our music focus day and while we still practiced our weekly words (with a little wild running to help out!) we spent a little more time on island -style music.  We started the day with a math challenge and all the kids did a great job matching the answers to the problems and counting our their beans.
 We learned that in Hawaii, they do a dance called Hula which tells stories with hands and body.  We learned some hula to our Pineapple Princess song and even did the Alphabet Hula to help us learn the correct ways to draw each of our letters!  At table time we tried to remember our hula moves to help us practice tracing and writing the letters with our markers.  It was tricky to move our bodies to the letters in the right order, but we had a chart to look at!  Our next hula song was The Hukilau.  Hukilau is a fishing party and after dressing up in some Hawaiian-style clothes and dancing and singing the Hukilau song, I thought it would be fun to go fishing ourselves!  So, we jumped on our boat (the table) cast our our line (fishing pole with magnet) and then took turns catching fish (paper fish with numbers on them and paper clips to stick to the magnet).  We compared the poundage (numbers) on our fish and decided which ones were the biggest or smallest.  Our numbers were all from 13-20 as those are the ones which seem to need the most review.   We were a little tired after snack and play time so we had a rest time.  We chillaxed island-style while I read "When I am Quiet on Maui" by Judi Riley.  Some fun, new Hawaiian words and pictures were introduced to us in that book.  We ended the day with one more Hawaiian song with the ukulele, Aloha Oe.   I almost forgot!  We designed our very own island with things that we love.  We used our weekly words from this week and last week to start the sentence "I can jump on my. . ." and took turns reading the sentence and filling in the blank.  Many of the kids put those things on their island.  We decided our islands were jumpy islands.  The answers to the fill-in sentence were so hilarious!  I love how they started plausibly and slowly drifted to ridiculous and finally ended in aggressive.  Classic.  I had to share them:

I can jump on my. . .
Logan:  trampoline
Claire:  bed
Jonah:  house
Lily:  head
Penny:  brother

How to make your own island:  cut a potato in half and put it in a bowl or plastic container.  Color pictures of things you would want to see on your island (or jump on).  Cut out pictures and tape them to toothpicks.  Stick toothpicks in island.  No island is complete without water!  For water, use food dye to color corn syrup blue and pour around the island.  Let the 'water' solidify overnight.  Ta da!  Then, during stations, the next day, tie in last weeks theme and draw a map of your island (don't forget map essentials, like a compass, key, and symbols!)

Lei Day is May 1. . .but four year olds in Utah don't know that!  I had all the kids bring a lei they had made at home to school on Thursday.  Man, were they cute!  We had a lei made of family pictures, one of crazy fabric, herbs and flowers, one with sticks and leaves and a fairy-themed lei!  We tried to find words in some island-themed books (weekly words) and then had our daily circle time activities.  Then, I gave each of the kids another lei I had made that had buttons on them.  They could earn fabric flowers to button on their leis by completing tasks at four different stations.  We did individual readings with me, letter writing practice and spelling practice with the wooded word cards.  I have one super reader in my class so I had her practice making sentences and alphabetizing words (yes, she can alphabetize. . .).  The kids really loved trading stations and earning a flower at each one.  I handed out more flowers during the day.  The kids were so excited to take their first book home to work on for the weekend.  I hope they are motivated to read them.  Remember, parents, if the kids can pass off their book, they can get a sticker on their chart and when one row is filled, they get to pick a book from my book box. . .to keep!
Thursday is our science day and my favorite day.  I made a bowl of homemade pudding (YUM) and placed a giant (gluten-free, of course) cookie on the top.  Then, I came in to the room and told a dramatic tale of Early Earth and it's humble beginnings as a single island, Pangea.  I told them of earthquakes, liquid cores and movement deep inside the Earth.  Then, with a dramatic stab, I cracked the cookie and the pieces spread throughout the pudding.  I pulled out the globe and pointed out the continents.  We noticed that some edges of continents seemed to fit together like a puzzle.  We looked back at the cookie and noticed the same thing about our infant continents.  Then, we ate the Earth, er, cookie and pudding.  Normally we do not have sugary treats at school, but we bend the rules for science.  Preschool and plate tectonics?  Abbbbbbsolutely!
Our island festivities ended with a hula show for parents on my stage (porch. . .ahem. . .lanai).  The kids looked great with their leis and although they were much more timid in their singing and hula dancing in front of the parents, they still did a great job!  I was very proud.  I had an award for each of the kids' leis. Everyone won something on preschool Lei Day. . .even if it wasn't in May.

Stay tuned next week for a continuation of our introduction to the planet and early Earth (cue suspense music)  DINOSAURS!

I am sure there is more I have left out.  The smallest moments of learning or the sweetest look of a child cannot be written down.  I sure love these kids and I sure love teaching.

One last thought. . .I will try to take a picture of this. . .I have a magnet board that has alphabet magnets as well as word magnets.  I try to change the word magnets every so often.  The kids, mostly my baby, sometimes play around with the words during play time (or, at table time, when they are supposed to be working. . .hee hee).  Well, for the first time I hope that the kids are not as good readers as they seem to be as this is what was left on the magnet board this week:

bad teacher poog(upside down 'good') of is green a book

Bad teacher poo?  Hmmmmm. . .I guess we all have room to improve!

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