Daily Schedule

Thursday, December 8, 2016

This Week in Review - December 5 - 9

This information will also be found in Walter's weekly email.

This week seems to be all about presentations and performances! We have rehearsed our myth for the all-school play several times, and were excited to finally be able to practice on the actual stage. We also learned and wrote about the raptors who live at the Leslie Science and Nature Center, and have practiced our Friday morning meeting presentation. And, finally, my math group has been practicing a magic trick that we hope to perform for other math groups. 

On Wednesday morning, our small scientists dissected owl pellets as part of our month-long project about birds of prey. We learned in a very hands-on way more about the food chain. Also, several children found a great skeleton on the playground, and were so excited to research what type of animal it was. Luckily, we have a good selection of science books to look through. They think it may be a rat. We finished the first of our raptor chapter books, one called There's an Owl in the Shower, by Jean Craighead George. This is an interesting exploration for these children as the book explores the world of loggers vs environmentalists, and introduces concepts like clear-cutting and soil erosion (and the long-term and complicated effects of altering even one part of the natural environment). 

Of course, we continue working on spelling, writing conventions, poetry anthologies, and more. It is a busy and productive time. We look forward to next week, when we have several families coming in to share their family and cultural traditions, as well as preparing for the "Birdie Bake Sale".

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

More Project Work - Owl Pellets

One of the many things we've learned through our research about raptors, is how owls eat rodents and birds whole, and then hack up the fur, feather, and bones they cannot digest. You can learn a lot about an owl by looking at what is in these pellets. Information about their habitats, eating habits, and their place in the food chain can all be gleaned from carefully picking apart a pellet, and identifying each little bone. Our little scientists worked very hard, and identified a lot of animals, including mice, shrews, voles, and birds.

Look! A hand! The first one I've ever seen in a pellet.

Using tools like picks and tweezer help a lot - but our fingers were really the best tools.

Hard at work - we spent about an hour doing this activity.

One child's meticulously curated bone collection.

One little scientist was reluctant to leave his work area, even for snack and recess.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Play Rehearsals

Play rehearsals are going very well! We are practicing in the classroom, and also with Karl. Today was the first time we actually got to rehearse on the big stage in the lunchroom. Each child is learning their parts, and we can now do the entire play without scripts. We are now just working on volume, expression, and body movements.

The children are excited to be part of the big all-school production. We know it will be a big success!

Math Magic

Sometimes it is easily possible to tie in our themes to math (and other subjects), and sometimes it is more difficult. Our current theme is one of the easier ones. We are learning about "Myths and Magic", so we will have fun learning to perform some "magic" tricks that are based in mathematical concepts. The first one I teach is The Magic 10.

Each child has now learned this trick, and we are currently working on techniques to make our presentation of the trick look smoother and, well, trickier! You can practice at home - all you need is a standard card deck, without 10s, jacks, queens, or kings. The ace should count as a 1. You should have 36 cards in all.

Here's how you do it:
    1. Hold out the shuffled deck, and ask a person to choose any three cards.
    2. Ask the person to determine if any two of his cards add to ten. If so, he must return one of the two to you and choose a replacement. Repeat this until the person has three cards, no two of which add to ten. Tell the person you will determine which cards he has. The person can put these three cards aside while you perform the trick.
    3. Begin the card trick by simply turning each of the remaining cards face up in front of you, one at a time. As soon as you see any two cards that add to ten, cover those two with the next two cards from the deck.
    4. Continue on in this manner, covering pairs that add to ten every time you see them, until the deck is finished. If there are no such pairs, place the next card out to form a new pile. Note: if you are left with only one card in the end, simply make a new pile.
    5. When the cards in your hand have all been turned over, remove the pairs of piles whose top cards add to ten.
    6. There should be three remaining piles. Determine the missing cards by finding the addend that goes with the top card of each pile to make ten.
Of course, the math skill we are practicing is "make 10". All year we have been working on mental math techniques, and being able to quickly make 10 is a big part. Children who know immediately that 9 + 1, 8 + 2, 7 + 3, 6 + 4, and 5 + 5 equal 10 have a much easier time to mentally do harder problems, like 16 + 7 (perhaps thinking, "I know 7 and 3 make 10, so I'll take 3 from 16 to do so. Then 10 plus 13 is 23.") This type of flexible thinking is crucial for fluent mathematicians, and is part of what is known as number sense.

Anyway, we are practicing this trick in our math group all week, and hope to perform it for other math groups soon!