Maple Room News

April 27 - May 1

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Learning through Exploration

This past week children expressed their creativity and expanded their interests through play. The block area has become a vibrant display of design. Last week it was a circus. This week it became a series of elaborate living quarters. What could have inspired such a transition in design and thinking? Were children influenced by a walk, something they saw or heard in the play yard, or home?

Occasionally, after children have had a sufficient amount of time with only unit blocks, we will add additional materials to the block area. This Thursday, we decided to place a small bin of colored wooden cubes in the space. How do you think children respond to the subtle addition of materials?

'Theatrical performances' are still being composed through dramatic play. On Thursday, a roughly 6 foot tall wall was erected using hollow blocks. It is currently being used as a curtain of sorts.

Another student expressed an interest in nail salons this week. Several teachers and students are supporting her in designing her own salon. We began by making a list of things a salon might need: a nail design board, a sign, nail polish, and water to name a few. Collectively we agreed to start with the sign. Our hope it to bring this student, and several others to an actual nail salon next week. While there, the children can ask questions of employees and take photos of the space. All of this work will contribute to the authentic experience we consistently work so hard to provide.

As for things to do outside of school...

Ask your child about their play regularly. Take some time to observe, looking carefully without interfering too much. Why do they plan the way they do? What influences their decisions and work?

How could you further encourage the wonder and imagination of your kindergartener while still supporting independence and autonomy?

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A Study of Gardens and Living Things

We continued our study of gardens this week through immersion.

We are reflecting and questioning often. To start the week, we brainstormed the living things we saw in the garden. Children were encouraged to think beyond flowers and crops. We came up with an impressive list. We each chose three living things to draw. After illustrating with pencil, we used sharpies to add depth to our work. We will be using water color to add detail to our work soon. Everything is really coming together. We'll be using this work in the coming week to complete a larger project.

As mentioned above, we have also been questioning. This week we thought deeply about the things we'd like to learn about gardens and living things in general. Our ever expanding list of questions will be posted both inside and outside and of our classroom. So far we have many questions about worms.

Reading Workshop

We began a new reading unit this week. We are using all of the strategies that we know to figure out tricky words in the books that we read. We will also be learning many more strategies to help us read more challenging books. Our focus in this unit is to help our Maples develop the confidence (by having a wealth of strategies and skills) to keep reading and not give up when they encounter tricky word or tricky parts within a book that they are reading.

This week, we spent some time thinking about the way books sound, so that we can figure out words that we don't know.

Readers think about the whole book - the cover, the pictures, and what the book is mostly about--to help them read more challenging books. Readers can think, “What would make sense?” and then look at the tricky words.

Readers read the titles of our books and study the front and back cover and think about what we already know about a what we see on the covers of our books before we start reading.

When you are reading with your Maple at home and they come across a word they don't know, first ask them to think about the topic of their book (whether it is fiction or non-fiction). This will help them narrow the possibilities of what the word could be and will encourage them to think about what would make sense.

Our sight words this week: back, been

As a class, we have put a pause on introducing a new sight word everyday. The Maples need more practice with the words that have been introduced in the past few months. Please support their sight word knowledge by practicing spelling, reading, and writing these words with them.

Writing Workshop

Last week, we all spent a lot of time using the word wall to help us spell many of the words in our writing. Although this tool is quite helpful, authors also need to remember to use their "true words." The words that are interesting, juicy, and specific! These types of words do not find their way on our word wall, but they are certainly found in the books that we read.

This week, we practice writing down our true words! Even though these words are much harder to spell, they make our stories more enjoyable for our readers.

You can support your Maple by doing this same type of work at share. Orally share an interesting story, then work alongside your child to write down those "true words" on paper. Your Maple could also share a story and then write those words down.

We also learned that when authors are writing true stories, they think of an something that has happened to them that gave them strong feelings: happiness, sadness, anger, excitement. Then the author tells this story across the pages of their book.