Sun, Earth, and Moon Inquiry

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Project Based learning at work this summer. Charlie has been interested in landforms and the earth in general. Recently, we have had a beautiful full moon. It has started a lot of questions about what the moon is doing with the earth.

I thought we could make a model, I found several models of how to show the relationship online, but we had more fun pulling out the creation station (remember from earlier post) to try and make our own version. This is what we came up with after a lot of thinking and mistakes. We wanted to get the moon to go around the earth at the same time. Strings, wire, and other stuff and we go it.

Then, I love this..
He starts asking:

“What else do we want in the space?”
“I am going to put lines for the atmosphere.”

I have a feeling we may go farther..

For more inspiration on this method, I want to remind you of the project approach. http://www.projectapproach.com. The key is to let their inquiry guide the activity more than showing them how to do it. It is so much fun to watch the learning.

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Place Based Preschool – In and Around the Pond ….again!

Place Based Preschool

I am thrilled to work with children to expand their experience with two things I am passionate about: nature and creativity. Every session we explore together through play, investigations, art, and stories. The place based model helps children feel a sense of place by connecting and learning about the world around them. That can mean the natural world, their local town, the local bird population, or anything around them. The plan with this preschool sessions is to gather once a season to explore a topic within our “place.”  I also enjoy asking the children to interpret what they learn through art (inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy.) I have so much fun that I want to keep the experience; hence, the blog! The blog includes post from the place based sessions or other ways and ideas to share an appreciation for nature and creativity. Enjoy!

In and Around the Pond

I have already posted about our first three session for spring.  This post will reflect the last three sessions.

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I asked the families to gather at my house for another day in the field.  Through the woods, there is a marshy section of our local river and the woods are thriving with salamanders.  It was a perfect opportunity to talk about their similarities and differences to frogs and lizards.  During circle, we use plastic models of salamanders to think about their body parts.  Salamanders have 4 toes in front and 5 toes on back.  I used a oil covered plastic bag to simulate salamander and frog skin and we compared it to an onion mesh bag that simulated lizard skin.  After our comparisons, I coached the children on the respect needed while investigating live salamanders.  We pretended to find them under logs and hold them in our hand (preferably on a leave.)    Then, we went into the woods for our investigation!

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The children worked with the teachers and parents to find the habitats of the salamander.  We found several and many discoveries along the way!

“He likes holes!”  Caleb

“I think I see five toes!”  Althea

“They crawl fast.”  Nick

It was hard to pull them away from this investigation, but we made our way to the outdoor classroom area to start our reflection and art.

imageI invited the children to talk about what they noticed on the salamanders they found and I then shared a variety of pictures of different types of salamanders.  They noticed the stripes, spots, and colors.  I asked them if they would like to create their own salamander.  This project reflected their creativity and their learning from investigations.  They used their knowledge to create the shape of the body and then they loved imagining their own specially designed salamander.

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“I want spots”  Ella

“My salamander’s name is Sara Sweetheart.”  L.L.

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image“Mine will be a rainbow salamander.”  Althea

And Finally…….

Our last  session was spent at a local school that had a perfect environment to show the children another type of wetland and to showcase a vernal pool (temporary pool of water.)

The school has a stream on the grounds and the fourth graders are part the The Stream Team.  They have learned about the habitats around the stream through the course of the year.  I invited them to show the children around.

During circle, I used a plastic tub, brown cloth and water to simulate a vernal pool and how the water evaporates or sinks into the ground.  Then, I was able to show them an area that use to be filled with water, but still has the wetland vegetation.  The children remembered cattails from our pond plants collage project in an earlier session.

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After circle, the fourth graders took the children on a tour of local stream habitats.  They found tadpoles, water striders, red winged blackbirds, and a killdeer bird nest with a protective mother.

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Not the greatest picture… but you get the idea.

“Why is it on the ground?”  Emma

The children noticed the behaviors of the mother bird and were excited to get a glimpse of the spotted eggs.

After our investigation, I invited the children to create their final art project while thinking about the habitats of their previous clay creations.  They created their habitat on the collage.

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“Here is a log for the salamander, pond for the tadpoles and I gave them eyes.”

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Some children included plants to represent the vegetation.

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I supplied googly eyes to represent eggs.  Some children used them as eyes and others liked the egg idea.

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We finished our last session with some songs and a special hug and good-bye from Mr. Salamander.

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Happy Kindergarten gang!