Stems: Numbers, decorations and potions on the playground

Stems: Numbers, decorations and potions on the playground

December 21th, 2018

Hello Stem families,

Welcome into the classroom this week.

It has been a busy week full of energy as we near our holiday vacation. As we mentioned last week, our work on the Lego catalog showed us that many of the Stems are curious about numbers, how to write them, what they mean, how to represent a number and thinking about very large numbers.  So, this week one of the ways we supported this was by introducing our new “number tray” during small groups. After looking at the items on the number tray, we talked about making some number pictures to add to the tray.  Then we invited the Stems to use items in the classroom to make their own number picture.

It was interesting to see the ideas that the Stems came up with.  Some of the Stems took a number from the tray and then made a collection of items that matched that number,

others used items to form the shape of a number

a few used small items from our number tray to cover a number from the tray – forming the shape of the number with these small items.

and others were excited about the possibility about representing a very large number with materials from the classroom.  Diego and Shane worked to carefully line up all of our wooden blocks to make the biggest number they could, which intrigued other members of the class as well.

There were so many blocks that the line curved around all of our block area, across storytelling and beyond.  The line was so long we couldn’t fit them all in just one photo.

Diego hoped there would be 100 blocks, Shane hoped for even more, so when they were finished we counted to see how many there were.  After counting the entire line of blocks, which was a lot of hard work, we realized that they had made a line of 167 blocks and used our number cards to show the number! We are excited to see what new directions thoughts about numbers will take us when we return from vacation.

Here are some peeks into a few other activities that have intrigued the Stems this week…


Outside, an activity that the Stems return to over and over again is crushing chalk and filling small containers with chalk, sand and water.  Recently we had heard some of them call these mixtures “potions” so we decided to see what would happen if we offered more materials to extend that play.  On one day we offered dried mint and oregano along with leaves, water and shaving cream in a large bowl.  They seemed to notice the smells of the herbs because as some of them pretended they were cooking with “Jalapenos”.  On other days we provided leaves, shaving cream, dish soap, water and just small containers.  Some of the Stems carefully prepared pretend food to eat while others created potions just a few examples were “the strong potion” (which made you strong), “popcorn potion” (which made popcorn appear in your hands) and “hulk potion” (which was green and turned you into the Hulk).  We are thinking of possibilities of how this interest in potions and pretend cooking could connect with our interest in numbers, we will see where that goes in the new year.

There has been less interest in adding to the Lego catalog this week, but with the addition of more wheels and Lego figures, there was a group of Stems that were busy building.  This time we noticed the interest was not only on building, but then also using their creations for pretend play.  Airplanes and various vehicles were flying around the classroom this week, occasionally crashing and needing repairs.  Legos still inspired some writing as some of the members of our class wanted to request some more items we need for the lego box, so they worked on a note to Ms. Mazi asking for a few steering wheels and plane parts.

In the pretend area you may have noticed some new decor…

An activity in the pretend area that the Stems return to repeatedly is “decorating” sometimes it is decorating for a party or a holiday.  This week we added more ribbons and fabric to the pretend area and many of the Stems used them to make elaborate decorations around the window and throughout the pretend play area.  Usually we take everything down at clean up time, but this week the Stems asked for it to stay to add more to later.  So, we left it up and added to it all week long.

As they decorated we saw problem-solving on how to get materials attached and lots of practice tying knots.

It was also interesting to see that occasionally these were decorations and at other times the ribbons were inspiration for “gymnastics” pretend play.



One more activity that the Stems were excited to get started with this week was sewing with Ms. Soni which is a great activity to strengthen a child’s hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.  It challenges left-brain thinking and is a great way to express one’s creativity and individuality.  So, this week we just introduced a simple stich to the Stems, and how to hold the needle. We showed the Stems how to thread the needle by placing thread through the big eye.

Most of the children in the Stems asked Ms. Soni to help draw a heart shaped pattern on the fabric with a sharpie, and then they made small stiches over the drawn pattern.

The Stems were also busy all week long making a gift to take home.  First they prepared the wood, painted and decorated it, added ribbon and finally wrapped and if they wanted to made a card.  We are sure you will enjoy their special presents, they were created with much care and love!

Finally, a very Happy Birthday to Logan!  Take a look at the photo to see how old he turned this week 🙂

Happy Holidays!  We look forward to seeing everyone again on January 2nd

– Ms. Inga & Ms. Soni