Early Childhood Curriculum Update

January 2020

Mott Class - Preschool

This month in the Mott class, we wrapped up our Light inquiry and continued our seasonal nature studies. The major highlights included a class trip to the DaVinci Science Center to explore color and light, an “expert” visit from an electrician, a collaborative mixed media winter landscape and the gradual transition of our classroom into a “winter” playspace complete with a cave. As always, our literacy and math work was integrated into our play and inquiry activities. To further this work, we continued to progress through Handwriting Without Tears lessons, did a variety of math work that focused on one to one correspondence and patterning, and introduced “Reader’s Theater” into our repertoire of weekly activities.

Our Light inquiry ran its course this month. We explored snap circuits and conductive playdough in early January with the Rustin class. Students were able to create circuits that powered lights, sound, and fans that spin, and recognized the necessity for circuits to be closed or fully connected in order to work. We also talked a lot about how light can be split into colors (the rainbow!) as friends noticed rainbows shining through prisms hanging in our windows and engaged in a variety of color mixing activities.

Our visit to The DaVinci Science Center tied many of these ideas together with a workshop on color and light. We were surprised to learn that colored light mixes differently than colored water. Our visit from Dave Yates (an electrician) helped round out our light exploration. He brought in a variety of electrical props and pictures and helped us answer some of our really big questions about light: “How do light switches work?”, “Can you shine a light on the moon?’, and “Where does electricity come from?”

For all of our inquiry work we follow the student’s lead and attempt to create learning opportunities that provide answers to the questions they ask (both literal questions as well as the questions we observe in their play). For our past unit on babies the project reached a grand conclusion with our “Baby Museum”. For our light inquiry, we covered such a broad variety of topics (holidays of light, the light within, the sun and planets, light sources, rainbows, electricity and circuits) that we decided that a classwide reflection was the best way to close the project. Students were given an opportunity to look through a variety of pictures taken throughout the project, we discussed our favorite parts, drew pictures of things we remembered and created a showcase in our entryway of the many things we had done throughout the project. This type of documentation and reflection is a Reggio inspired tool that we utilize in our classroom frequently. Documentation and pictures can help make our preschool learning more visible, and allows children to re-visit and interpret their learning in deeper ways.

Our seasonal nature studies encompassed a variety of things this month. Similar to our fall study, we kicked off winter with the creation of a ‘Winter Landscape”. We read a beautiful story When Winter Comes, about the changes that the season brings, discussed its defining features and collected nature treasures from our playground. This paralleled the work we did in the Fall and we will do it again this Spring. We looked back at the Fall landscape we made a few months ago and noticed how different things look now! We also spent some time looking at a few famous winter paintings, observing the main colors used (brown, black, blue, white and gray) and then began to create our own class painting. Students were given blue, white and black paint and over the course of a day completed a sky painting. We added found materials from the playground to our painting (twigs and evergreen branches) and then students explored glue, leftover rice, moon sand, and cut up pieces of white tulle and applied them to create a snowy scene. We furthered our study by transforming our classroom into a winter play-scape and exploring the properties of ice. Our loft was made into a bear cave, our sensory table was filled with materials to use to create wintry habitats for animals, and many of our activities during the last two weeks of January surrounded the defining features of the season. We did an ice melting experiment, created ice hangings, made ice paintings, whipped up a batch of shaved ice, and created icicle and snowflake art that incorporated patterning and counting.

For books this month we covered a variety of non-fiction and fiction stories:

Hildilid’s Night- Chelli Duran Ryan

Electricity is Everywhere - Nadia Higgins

The Hat- Jan Brett

Color Dance- Ann Jonas

Mrs. Toggle's Zipper- Robin Pulver

Amazing Electricity- Sally Hewitt

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King

When Winter Comes- Nancy Van Laan

Bear Snores On- Karma Wilson

We are Going on a Bear Hunt- Helen Oxenbury

Snowflake Bently- Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Bears- Laura Bour

Next month we will continue our work on winter and begin a new project.

Rustin Class - Kindergarten

January started cold and snowy which was perfect for our unit on snow! We have been learning what snow is and how snowflakes are created. We were able to do a project with our friends in the Penn class about transparency and we have learned all about friction and why snow and ice are slippery. We have begun to study artists who use snow in their work. We studied a collage and then painted a background and added our own collage people we drew on a different piece of paper. We explored how snow falls on trees and noticed that the snow lays on the top of the branches, then we painted trees with snow on the top of the branches.

Throughout our study of snow we have been researching using non-fiction books. We noted that non-fiction books usually have photographs on the cover and a table of contents. We know that we can find a page using the table of contents and then start to read from that page, unlike in a fiction book which needs to be read from start to finish. We are also learning about other characteristics of some non-fiction books like cut-aways, labels and maps. We are increasing our sight word knowledge and studying phonics books.

In math sessions we have been working on addition and subtraction. We are using ten-frames to make doubles ( 2+2, 5+5) and playing games with addition and subtraction. We have been learning about symmetry and exploring patterns within shapes.

We studied Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin this month. We learned about all the people who helped to lead the Civil Rights Movement in non-violent ways. We created snack bags for the Code Blue shelter and for the Quakertown food pantry, toys for the SPCA and soup and cookies for Food for Friends. It has been a busy month in the Rustin Class.