Weeks Five and Six…

WEEK FIVE: The Tiny Seed

OPENING ACTIVITY: Use waterpaint to discover “hidden” wax resist leaves and botanicals on “blank” sheets of paper.

PLAYTIME: Choosing stations

STORYTIME: The Tiny Seed

ACTIVITY: Children each receive a small “collecting” cup and stick together as we explore one square block of the Old Town neighborhood, looking for mosses, berries, seeds, leaves, and other nature treasures.

ILLINOIS LEARNING STANDARDS:
Science
State Goal 11: Understand the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments and solve problems.
Learning Standard B: Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of technological design.
Benchmark: 11.B.ECa Use scientific tools such as thermometers, balance scales and magnifying glasses for investigation.

Physical Development and Health
State Goal 19: Acquire movement skills and understand concepts needed to engage in health-enhancing physical activity.
Learning Standard C: Demonstrate knowledge of rules, safety and strategies during physical activity.
19.C.EC Follow simple safety rules while participating in activities.

Even in the midst of the city, a nature walk around the block can be made into quite the event.

I give the students tiny little dixie cups to collect nature “treasures” and we talk about what we might find before we go outside collecting. We stick together and stay away from the street as we explore our block. My only collecting rules are that they have to be natural finds (no garbage or rubber bands, etc.) and that the item must fit in the cup. Seeds, leaves, rocks, mosses, twigs, bark, etc. are usually the order of the day–as always, we found lots of specimens–sweet peas in dried seed pods, tiny flowers still blooming, ginkgo leaves, and three different types of moss in the sidewalk cracks.

Children come in and dump out their haul, using hand lenses (magnifying glasses) to see more details. They get pretty excited about their finds and we do a lot of, “turn and tell your neighbor” things–most interesting, smallest, most colorful, etc.

Our art tie-in was a leaf-rubbing wax resist, painted with water paint.

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Storytime was “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle, which is wonderful and apropos. It really helps students begin to consider the life cycle of seeds and is a wonderful illustration of the passage of time through the seasons.

WEEK SIX: Miss Nelson Is Missing

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OPENING ACTIVITY: Using permanent markers, students will color a canvas pencil bag. Following safety instructions, students will manipulate eyedroppers and isopropyl alcohol to separate the colors by means of chromatography.

PLAYTIME: Choosing stations

STORYTIME: Miss Nelson Is Missing

ACTIVITY: Downstairs activity begins with students discussing fingerprints and then using a worksheet to preserve their OWN fingerprint, noting the four main styles. They then solved riddles as a group to find the missing teacher!

ILLINOIS LEARNING STANDARDS:
Science
State Goal 13: Understand the relationships among science, technology and society in historical and contemporary contexts.
Learning Standard A: Know and apply the accepted practices of science.
Benchmark: 13.A.EC Begin to understand basic safety practices.

Social Emotional Development
State Goal 32: Demonstrate a respect and a responsibility for self and others.
Learning Standard B: Perform effectively as a member of a group.
32.B.ECc Respect the rights of self and others.

I have loved this book since I was in grade school! It is so silly and clever…and teaches children an interesting, but not preachy, lesson.

I thought it would be fun to talk about being a “detective” this week–four and five year olds are just starting to become familiar with this word and what it means–Scooby Doo is a big help. Little ones love looking for clues and solving puzzles, so an intro to detective work and simple forensics fit in perfectly with this book.

We learned how to fingerprint ourselves and also that each fingerprint is different and unique, just as we all are. We looked at four common fingerprint patterns as well.

We also experimented with chromatography, or, as we put it, seeing what colors were hiding in our markers. Children are delighted to find yellow hidden amongst the green, purple hidden inside the black, etc. We teach them how to use eyedroppers with alcohol, explaining first about safety (keep away from eyes and mouth), and making sure our building is well-ventilated. We then color canvas pencil bags or canvas aprons with Sharpie permanent markers. The final step is to drip the rubbing alcohol onto the item–the alcohol immediately begins to separate and evaporate out different color pigments “hiding” in the student’s art, creating a beautiful, magical watercolor tie-died effect.

Items are left to dry for about 30 minutes and then taken home at the end of the day. This lesson really helps to get students to use their “detective eyes” when looking for things–how often do teachers (and parents) hear, “I can’t find my (insert item name here)!!!” Being a “detective” empowers children to use their eyes and look for clues, to stop and think about what makes sense, and to begin to make inferences–all higher level thinking skills and crucial for becoming critical thinkers.

Students solved riddles around the Clubhouse to find the missing teacher–who was “stuck” in the upstairs closet! I do believe Miss Nelson and Miss Viola Swamp will be paying us another visit later in the year!