Hello Stems Families,
Welcome to the new school year! This is Ms. Krista, Ms. Cynthia and Ms. Mazi, and we are thrilled to be in the Stems, learning and discovering with your children. Ms. Cynthia will be part of our team until July 5th and then off to be a new mommy to her baby boy Kai!
Overall we have spent the first week getting into the swing of things, starting out with some open-ended activities to get to know current interests, see how the classroom set-up works for our group and to observe interactions and group dynamics.
In this blog we will cover :
- Tinker Tray
- Exploration and Observations
- Beginnings of class Rule discussion with group A and Group B
- Outdoor Exploration observations
- Where do we go next, educator’s questions, and hypothesis!
Why tinker tray?
A tinker tray is a compartmentalized container filled with various loose parts and materials (ex. craft sticks, nuts/bolts, toothpicks, wine corks, yarn, etc.). The purpose of the tinker tray is for children to do just that- tinker! There are many benefits to tinkering from promoting critical thinking skills, to supporting problem-solving skills, to fostering fine-motor skills, to inspiring the creative and expressive thoughts to flow.
Observation and Children’s voices working on tinker tray
We observed the Dots not utilizing the tinker tray during exploration and thought perhaps re-introducing it to the Dots during morning assembly would invite the Dots to tinker. When showing the tinker tray to the Dots, we asked them- “What do you see?”
“Dollars (plastic circles).” -Asahi
“Measuring (binder tabs).” -Mateo
“Q-tips (toothpicks).” -Annabel
“Mork (wooden loose part).” -Riho
“Hangers (paper clips).” -Samanvi
After discussing the tinker tray during assembly, we saw action in the tinker tray that morning! One of the Dots immediately requested tape so we posed the question, “How else can we connect things together besides tape?” to further their thinking. After trying different methods, we saw that a couple of the Dots had discovered that loose parts could be connected together with yarn!
During collaboration that day, we watched a video of Jack tinkering in the tray. We marveled at how he wrapped, tied, and used a variety of materials from the tray to create and connect with. It was then when we decided that we wanted to share the video with the Dots during the following morning’s assembly to perhaps inspire some of Jack’s friends to use the tinker tray!
While showing the video to the Dots, we asked them, “What do you see Jack making?”
“From Aladdin, like a parrot spinning around and around and around.” -Phoebe
“A door?” -Mateo
“A telephone?” -Riho
“A lasso?” -Mateo
“A playground?” -Phoebe
“A digger? They have super long choppers.” -Samanavi
“Maybe it’s a playground you climb up to the top.” -Phoebe
“Maybe Jack is making a sister.” -Madison
“A ship” -Clara
What was it? “A rocketship!” -Jack
We invite you into the classroom to find and look at the materials in our tinker tray!
The group has taken an interest in connecting using the paper clips and forming different shapes and items. Beginning of the week the children asked if they could have tape and we wanted to challenge their thinking by providing other materials for them to think differently.
Classroom Routine and Rules!
We are also starting to establish our routines for the morning meeting, how to use and care for materials, getting to know the areas of the classroom and procedures for cleaning up.
While most of the Stems already know each other, the beginning of the school year is a great time to work on building a cohesive classroom community. Now that our whole class is together, we are starting to think about what it means to be a “Stem.” How do the Stems work together? What do we do in the Stems classroom? Who is a Stem? Initial responses have focused on their past experiences: we play, share toys, clean up, dance and exercise. But, we will be digging deeper into who we are as a class: what we bring to our community as individuals and what our classroom culture is as a whole.
“You cannot see them because they’re like air. Air is camouflage so you can’t see it.” Hank
When establishing a classroom community and environment, it is important that the class understands what is expected of them as well as the consequences if expectations are not met. During small group, we asked the Dots- “where do rules come from?”
Small group A- children’s voices on rules
“The classroom.” -Mateo
“We have more rules in the classroom. Teachers make them.” -Madison
“They make them with their pencils and pens. In their heads.” -Mateo
“The teachers have to tell all the kids that’s why there’s so many.” -Madison
“When a teacher tells you not to push, don’t push.” -Anvi
“When you bring cars and there is fighting and the teacher says ‘stop’, you have to stop.” -Mateo
“No running in the classroom.” -Quinn
“No hitting and kicking people in the classroom.” -Dax
“Don’t fall down the sensory bin or you can’t play with the sensory bin today. You need to play a different day.” -Mateo
“You can’t run out of the classroom or a teacher will catch you.” -Anvi
“Kids make rules.” -Mateo
“If someone pushes you on the log or stump or throwing sand or woodchips, you can’t. We need to use your echo. If you scream you can hear your echo. At home in my garage I do my echoes.” -Madison
Small group B Illustration above- Children’s voices on rules
“I don’t know… they might come from your brain or something.” -Hank
“Rules come from your mind and brain. If someone hits you, rules will come out.” -Eden
“From your brain. You can think and make beautiful. If it’s not beautiful, you can still be beautiful.” -Aditi
“We have to have rules so the rules can help us not hit, punch, kick. Rules come from your body.” -Hank
“They really have to be important, so they are important.” -Phoebe
“Books and colors.” -Asahi
“When you’re listening, rules will go to your brain. When you’re not listening, rules will go from your brain.” -Smayana
“You can’t seem because they’re like air. Air is camouflage so you can’t see it.” -Hank
“Test it out. Practice. Another person can remind you [if you forget the rules]. -Eden
“We’re still learning. All of us.” -Hank
“No wasting paper towel. If you waste or use all the paper towel, that’s cutting down trees.” -Annabel
Children have such inspiring insight and we as adults can learn and be reminded of so much from their perspectives and viewpoints.
During small group one day, we read the comments that group A made about rules and where they come from to them. We then set out a variety of sticky notes and pencils to further discuss and brainstorm about what rules are and where they come from. After brainstorming their ideas and thoughts on sticky notes, group A decided that they would like to hang them up on the wall so that their friends and group B could see them! We invite you into the classroom to read the notes that group A created.
General Classroom Observations and Explorations
We have been bringing items and materials in the classroom that need care, attention, cleaning and organization. The bookshelf was broken by accident and we brought it to assembly to have some friends choose to take care of it in exploration. Eden and Anvi are helping take care of the classroom shelf.
Eden right after she was done with the fixing of the shelf, grabbed paper and wanted to draw and show what she did. Her drawing above has Eden, Anvi and Ms. Mazi with a small piece of wood they glued on. Afterwards she wanted to make a book about this activity she participated in. We used her exploration in reflection to dive into illustrating our ideas.
Her final book!
Outdoor Classroom observations
During outside exploration, we have frequently observed a majority of the Dots being drawn to pill bugs (roly polies). They incorporate these crustaceans into their stories, “play” with them, collect them, and make houses for them. This week, we observed Anvi, Phoebe, and Hank interacting with the bugs.
“Did you know rollie pollies could breathe under water? Sometimes they sink.” -Hank
“Sometimes they swim and sink to the bottom.” -Phoebe
“Don’t take them out, they can swim.” -Hank
“Get food for them.” -Phoebe
“It has to be green like the bamboo.” -Hank
“49-60-100 days. Rollie pollies could swim! I have to go somewhere.” -Phoebe
“Okay, I’ll keep an eye on the pets.” -Hank
“Put them on here.” -Anvi
“They have to stay on something so they could breathe.” -Hank
Through this exchange in dialogue, we observed how Anvi, Hank, and Phoebe had a hypothesis on roly polies and the environment required for them.
Side note: Did you know that although roly polies do not breathe under water, they do breathe through gill-like membranes and require a moist environment to be able to breathe? We will take a kids on a journey on discovery to hypothesize and come up with ideas and explore this fact!!
Questions and Reflections moving to next week:
- We will have the two groups present their ideas and illustration of the Rule to the rest of the class
- Responsibilities list- working together with the children to brainstorm on this topic
- Discussion on color and emotions as well as setting up the light table with paint and glue
- Writing and book making a great area of interest for most of the children: Small group to discover base knowledge and skill set of letters and sounds to make words and write!
- Outdoor Exploration – Water and flow provocation
- Food and Sensory Exploration and provocation
Developmentally four and five year old’s are learning to do many things for themselves, growing in independence, but they are also learning to work in pairs, groups and at times as a team towards a common goal. In the Stems classroom, we want to support each child as they figure out how to work well with others as well as hold onto the best of who they are as individuals.
One of the ways we will be exploring our classroom culture is by getting to know more about each member of the Stems and their families. Next week we will be sending home information about our first class book focused on sharing about ourselves and our families – info will be attached to the clips on the cubbies. As part of this project, we will be asking for a recent family photo for your child to add to their pages. Stay tuned.
Thank you and have a wonderful weekend!