Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Fun

We had some fall fun in the outdoor classroom this past week. We brought in hay bales to climb on, which the kids loved! We also filled our sand table with dried corn and buckeyes to scoop. We sorted buckeyes and acorns as well.

Kindergarten in the Schoolyard

Part of the extended day for the kindergartners is spent outside playing counting games and working on special projects and lessons. The children have been jumping over jump ropes counting to 100 and counting by 5's and 10's playing clapping games. The kids love it! One of our kids laid down three jump ropes and started counting by 3's!
We also learned about the forces of pushing and pulling while cleaning up the yard. The kids were put on two teams, one pulling a wagon and the other pushing the wheel barrow. The children filled them up with leaves and tallied each time they dumped their load of leaves.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Enjoying Some Nice Weather

We took advantage of the nice weather at the end of our week. The kids brought their snacks outside and had a little picnic in the yard. We also got out pumpkin tossing, which is a fall time favorite at our school. My mother in law crocheted these pumpkins a while back. They are really soft and great for tossing. The children also enjoyed our new leaf matching work. I found these beautiful wooden matching cards on from thewhimsytree shop.

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Good Week for Digging for Worms

I am fast learning that you have to be flexible when your classroom is outdoors. The rain kept us in one day and the next was very wet. Our deck was soaked, so we had to make some adjustments on Wednesday. We decided to put lots of hand shovels out, so kids could dig for worms. The kids loved it! I think digging for worms is our favorite work outside, although they love the farm animals too. Our owners brought some back in, and the children had the opportunity to observe and draw them. This week they got to meet Galileo the goose for the first time. He is big and noisy! He thinks he is the protector of his duck friends, so he did a lot of talking on his visit to the school.

Going on a Bird Hunt

I just love this picture! Some of the kids were checking out the Ohio bird guide. They were picking birds they like and using the binoculars to see if they could spy any. I'm not sure if they were successful in finding any, but they were enjoying themselves!

Indian Corn

We began our Indian Corn Work this week. The children take the kernels off the cob by hand. Another extension of that would be to use tweezers to remove the kernels. Later we will use the corn for another work. I am thinking of having them paint with the cob. The cob might make some pretty cool prints.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Farm Animals Come For a Visit

This week we had a special treat. The owner of our school, Arthur Stewart, brought several of the animals in from his farm. The children were able to feed and pet goats, ducks, a sheep, a rabbit, and a chicken. The kids were overjoyed! It was a very special day.

The Second Week

The second week of the outdoor classroom ran pretty smoothly aside from the weather not cooperating on Wednesday. My first group was able to have a full work time outside, but then the on and off down pours of rain began. When the sun came out I decided to take another group out just to dig for worms. The kids were loving it, but the rain came out of no where again and we got wet! No one in the group was upset about it. In fact the children were squealing with delight at it. Some of the girls were still talking about it the next day! When you are a kid getting caught in the rain can be one of those simple joys in life.

We did get the big shovels out this week as promised and began our digging work. The kids loved it! We also began sanding our stump. Last week we talked about how the rings on a stump tell the age of the tree. Sanding will make the rings easier to see.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Outdoor Classroom Officially Opened for the School Year

This week the outdoor classroom was officially open up for the school year. Now that the children have had time to adjust to being at school we have broken them up into their outdoor classroom groups and have started rotating them out into the schoolyard. It is always interesting at first, because the new ones need to learn how to change in and out of their boots, as well as how to line up. I must say they are catching on quite well and have been enjoying working in the yard. We kept it pretty simple this week. Children watered, sanded, dug with hand shovels, and learned to fill the bird feeder. Next week the big shovels come out and everyone is very excited!

Little Maple Trees

One of our themes for the year in our classroom is trees. The children have been learning about the parts of the tree, so I decided to dig up some of the baby maple trees that have made it into my yard thanks to all the maple seeds that spun their way in last spring. I placed them in water with some aqua gems, which are a soil substitute. This way the children could get a good view of the roots. I also found some battered "spinners" a.k.a. maple seeds to show them, as well as an adult maple leaf. It is interesting to observe how the tiny maple tree leaves don't look exactly like an adult maple leaf, but as they get bigger, their leaves look more and more like an adult maple. I was lucky enough to find a sapling with both shapes of leaves to show the kids. In the spring we will have each child find a maple seed in the yard and plant them as well. The kids love when the "spinners" fall off the trees. It will be a joy to watch the children when they make the connection that the "spinners" are seeds and when they are planted or go into the earth naturally we get tiny trees.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Maria Montessori! Happy Birthday My Little Zo!

Today my daughter celebrated her sixth birthday with the Montessori tradition of circling the sun represented by a candle, while the class sang to her. It is a beautiful tradition. Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Montessori as well.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer Camp

This year's summer camp theme was "To be a frog in Monet's garden." The children learned about Monet and other impressionists, as well as about the life cycle of the frog. We painted in both the indoor and outdoor classrooms, and watched three bullfrog tadpoles sprout legs and turn into froglets and then into full fledged frogs, which we released into our little lily pond.

Each Friday we had "messy paint day" and let the kids paint with their hands and feet, as well as with brushes. It wasn't exactly the style of the impressionists, but fun just the same! Afterwards the kids ran through the sprinkler to clean off. It was a really fun camp. The students and teachers had a blast!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Duct Tape Festival

We participated once again in the Duct Tape Festival. Some of our students, as well as the school's owner, Karen Stewart, and her family's ducks got to ride on our red wagon in the parade. Nugget, the duck sitting in the front, thought she was the honorary queen of the parade!

We also had a booth at the festival where kids could pet the ducks and grind corn to feed to them.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kindergarten Field Trip to Cleveland Botanical Gardens

Right before the school year ended the kindergartners took a field trip to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. In front of the Hershey Children's Garden is a quote imprinted in the cement that pretty much sums up everything we our trying to preserve for the children at our school.

"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade, water lilies, woodchucks, bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hay fields, pine cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets. And any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of education."
Luther Burbank 1920

The kids had a blast on the field trip. They especially loved the Children's Garden. They have a fountain to play in, a tree house to climb, old fashioned water pumps, and a cool garden with some unusual containers - boots, tubs, tea kettles, bikes to name a few. If you haven't taken you kids here, you should!

They also had fun finding and photographing plants beginning with each letter of the alphabet, which they made into a book for the school. Some of the kids also had butterflies perch on their fingers when they released butterflies in the glasshouse! It was a very fun day!

Friday, July 30, 2010

How Does Heifer Pass On the Gift?

We raised enough money to buy a llama for Heifer International!

Throughout the school year we have been raising money to buy a llama for Heifer International. The children learned about llamas and alpacas and how their fleece is used to make clothing and goods. Thanks to my mother-in-law each child was given a hand knit coin purse made from llama yarn. The students collected money in their coin purses and would bring it to school to add to our fund. It was awesome to see how excited the kids would get to bring in their own quarters and nickels, so they could buy a llama for a family that really needed one.

They also had the chance to learn to weave on our schoolyard fence, which served as our outdoor "loom." The students were taught to finger knit as well. Each child made a bracelet to take home. The Kindergartners finger knit and sold bracelets with an earth bead on each to raise additional money. They earned $75 bringing us to our goal, and we were able to buy a llama for Heifer International!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bird Watching

We have been doing a lot of bird watching lately. The kids made bird feeders from our recyclables which we have been filling, so the birds will come see us. We also have been tallying which birds we see.