WELCOME TO the PS1P BLOG
"PLAY IS OUR BRAIN'S FAVORITE WAY OF LEARNING." DIANE ACKERMAN
WELCOME TO the PS1P BLOG
"PLAY IS OUR BRAIN'S FAVORITE WAY OF LEARNING." DIANE ACKERMAN
As the Key Concept of the second Line of Inquiry is form, and the related Line of Inquiry is natural resources, over the last two weeks we have been focusing on the natural sources of water from the list that we created when considering where water is found. Our list continued to grow as we learned about water resources and we added sea, ocean, rivers and streams. So first we started with the…
“Sea” or “Ocean”
During morning meeting we read a book entitled, Hello Ocean by Pam Muñoz Ryan which brought the children’s imagination to the beach. Some of the children started sharing their memories of going to the sea with their families. Then we first listened to the soundtrack before also watching a video clip of the ocean. After this, the children were asked if any of them had ever tasted salt water. Some children said, as was mentioned in the book, that they had tried salt water when they cried, as their tears were a bit salty. Others remembered that water in the sea is salty. We considered whether salty sea water is good for drinking, and came to the idea that it is probably safe to taste, but definitely not good for drinking every day. We also wondered whether the salty water in oceans or seas is good at making anything else possible.
To explore the qualities of salty water, the children were invited to experiment with trying to make and compare salty with normal water in small groups of two or three. With each group we had two glasses of clean water. One of them we left as fresh water but to the other glass, the children add several spoons of salt to imitate sea water, and stirred. Then each child tasted a tiny bit of salt water and after that fresh water. The reaction varied from “It’s too yucky” to “I like it” and nobody was indifferent as was evident in their facial expressions. Most of the children agreed that normal water is better for drinking every day. Then what about salt water? We still wondered whether it could be good for something other than drinking. Some children suggested that Fish and dolphins can drink salt water as they live in the sea and ocean anyway” or that we can swim and play in it “when we go to the beach”. To extend children’s thinking about salt water usage, we presented them with two small plastic jewels and suggested that they drop one first into fresh water, then drop the other into the salty water.
- It’s going up!
- It’s going down then it’s going up!
- It’s floating!
We discussed the interesting fact that salty water made the jewel float, while in the fresh water it sank.
The other natural water resources from our list were...
“Rain drops” and “Clouds”
We began by watching an excerpt from a short educational video all about clouds. Earlier the children had already come up with the idea that raindrops come out from the clouds and make rain, but now we found out that tiny water drops actually come together to form the clouds! These water drops are so tiny that they float in the air and when if there are a lot, they collect in the groups and make clouds. When many tiny water droplets collect, they become too heavy to stay in the air, so they fall to the ground as rain.
To see how water drops fall down as rain we created a model of a cloud using shaving foam. We used a dropper and blue food coloring to fill the cloud with ‘rain’. As the clouds filled up they got heavier and could not hold water anymore , at which point it fell down as ‘rain’.
Our next focus was on...
We started our investigation about puddles by asking children:
Then children were asked:
Children replied that we see them on the road and on the ground.
After that we watched a short video on the theme, ‘Muddy Puddles’, showing how Peppa Pig and her family enjoyed time after the rain playing in muddy puddles.
Then the children went outside in small groups to experiment with making puddles by pouring water on different surfaces.
Experimenting with squirting and pouring water on the grass, on the sand and on the road surface, we discovered that each surface absorbs water differently, The sand soaked up the water right away, on the grass we observed the same effect. Only the road surface was good for making puddles.
"Stream" and "River"
Some time ago, when we explored water resources on the grounds of our school campus, we followed the school canal through the campus. This left us wondering about where the water, disappeared to after entering into the pipe and leaving campus,so we decided to organise a trip for the children to see the source of our school's stream and follow its journey to the school campus.
On Wednesday morning the bus delivered us to a place in the nearby neighborhood, not too far from our school. Ms. Shakhnoza, our Uzbek Culture teacher brought us to Chartak river to the place where the small canal is diverted from the main river. We noticed that this canal was running into a big pipe underground and followed the water coursing alongside the houses through the neighborhood. The driveways in front of the houses made kind of bridges that allowed us to observe how the water went under them, entering from one side and appearing again at the other.
Following the canal, we came back to school where the school security made sure that we crossed the road safely, and we went to the side of the school wall where we hoped to see the canal appearing again. We walked together alongside the stream the same way as we had when we started our inquiry, several weeks ago.
After this we went back to the classroom where Ms. Shakhnoza showed the children, zooming in the Google Earth map, the route of the stream we just had followed. She also showed the children where the Chartak river originates, from Chirchiq which starts its journey high in the snowy mountains.
Last week we started the 2nd Line of Inquiry, Places where water is found. During morning meeting we began brainstorming the ideas about where water is found with the teacher writing them down. We came up with the following:
We recalled our previous experience when we explored how people use water, when we walked around the school campus and looked at how water was being used. We decided once again to go for a walk around school, this time to see where water is found beyond the places on our list. As we passed the school canal, the gurgling sound of water drew our attention and we went closer to explore it. The children were introduced to the stream as a small river. The children tried to float small leaves and twigs in it. As we watched how the objects moved in the current, we wondered where they were going, so we followed the stream, listening to the different water sounds until we came to the place where the water disappeared into a big pipe. Now, other questions emerged, including ‘What happens to the water when it goes through the pipe?’ and ‘Where does it go?’ We left these inquiries open and kept walking until we came to the empty pond that is currently under some maintenance work. The children remembered that the last time we came here we saw some frogs, fish and bugs but now there were none.
When we returned to the classroom, we invited the children to experiment with making a stream. We went out to our front playground in small groups and began experimenting using a hose to let water run like a small stream. Stones and twigs helped the children to manage and direct the flow. They enjoyed watching where and how far the water went. The children worked with great focus on their project, adding sand to try to block the current or clearing the way. Some of the children were intrigued by the swirling of the water and some observed how the water flow was now separating in two new streams.
The next day, to reinforce the concept of streams and rivers as natural sources of water. We showed the children a satellite image of the Dvina river in Russia and used the ‘See Think Wonder’ thinking routine. The children were asked first what they had seen on the picture, then what they thought about it, and finally, what wonderings they had.
We explained to the children that these lines were many different tributary rivers and streams running to the White Sea. This new information led to another wondering; ‘Why do they run?’. To help the children learn about the basic structure of rivers and streams, we read a book called ”Sources of Water” by Rebecca Olien. Then in small groups went outside to continue experimenting with making a stream.
Finally, we took some time together to reflect and share impressions about our two-days worth of experimentation. We discussed how water flows more easily if it goes downhill and that this is how streams and rivers flow to the sea.
This week we wanted to add new ideas to the list we started last week about the ways in which people use water. We read Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers, and Mr Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham. Both books feature characters who travel on a boat, and the children spent some time considering why people travel on boats. They suggested that people travel on water such as a river or sea to go home or to go to another place.
To give the children the chance to experiment with making boats, and to consider the concept of floating and sinking, we presented them with a toy tiger and explained that the tiger wanted to get across the water but unfortunately he couldn’t swim so he needed our help. The children were touched by the plight of the little tiger and eagerly agreed to help him. So they went outside in small groups where a water table and a range of items such as different types of containers, a piece of tree bark, wooden circles, lids, a big basket, pieces of paper and cardboard were provided for each child to choose and to see how different objects worked as a boat.
The experiment revealed that not all the things were good to be a boat for the little tiger because some of them simply sank, along with the tiger. The next day we held a discussion with the children over the water transport experiments. We talked about what had worked and what hadn't. The children shared the theory that if the tiger kept falling into the water, it was not a good boat but if he got across without getting wet, it meant that the boat was good. They excitedly agreed with our suggestion to continue experimenting with objects and so we devoted time to using materials the children hadn't tried the day before.
In order to consider one important way in which people use water, that had not yet emerged, we decided to organize for the children a marshmallow roasting session. Both PS1 classes together came to an opened area near the Elementary building where Mr. Hoji had already prepared everything to create a small campfire. Mr. Ruslan, our security supervisor also was there to make sure we stayed safe. The children were invited to sit on benches arranged at a safe distance from the fire, but within view. As children’s reaction to the provocation was very important we didn’t tell them in advance the reason we came there so they were intrigued and became very excited. It was explained to them that we were going to roast delicious marshmallows.
Ms. Kristina and I put marshmallows on the skewers in front of the children and after roasting them gave them out one for each child. The children had fun looking at each other’s sticky hands and mouths.
When it was time to go back we had this conversation with the children:
-“Shall we just leave the fire burning like this?"
-“Because the fire could get bigger and bigger!”
-“What should we do then?”
-“Put the fire out.”
-“How could we do that?”
-”We need to put water on it!”
So Mr Ruslan put out the fire using a bucket of water.
We decided to follow up and take this chance to teach the children a little more about fire safety.
Mr. Ruslan showed the children a fire extinguisher and Ms. Kristina explained that we often find such extinguishers inside buildings and that they are designed to be effectively used to put out all types of fire, but especially in situations when we cannot use water, for example if there is an electrical fire.
Then Mr. Ruslan demonstrated to us all of the steps needed when using the extinguisher; first gently invert the extinguisher a couple of times, then remove the pin. When he had done this, he pointed it to at the base of the fire. The powder shot out up with a hiss and covered the entire area so it became white. The children were so impressed that they started clapping excitedly! We reminded them again about importance of being vigilant and that they must not to ever go close to a fire on their own but instead must always inform an adult straight away if they notice a fire burning.
After this exciting experience, we went back and took some time to read books about firefighters and their vital work.
Last week we started our new Unit of Inquiry How the world works with a provocation that was aimed to help our students to start thinking about the first line of Inquiry The ways in which people use water. The central idea of the Unit says, Human beings' relationship with water can have consequences on how the world works, so the purpose of the provocation was to allow the children to imagine a situation where there is no water in the whole ELC building. This was designed to encourage the children to think how this situation might affect us and how to deal with it. During the morning meeting the teachers received a (pretend) call from the maintenance department telling us that the water was going to be switched off. The children responded by starting to share ideas about where else we could get water so we don’t need to worry about the water being cut off:
-We still have water in our bottles.
Teacher: What will we do when it is finished?
-"We can go to another building to take some water.”
Teacher: What if the water there is also switched off?
Teacher: What other problems do you think we might have if we have no water?
-"We can’t wash our hands!"
-"We can’t use the toilet!"
-"We can’t drink water!"
We continued to discuss the situation, and came to the decision that we would need to explore our campus to find out where else at school we have water resources, when suddenly we received a message from Mr.Rashid telling us that the problem was solved and the water had been switched back on. All children received this news with joy. Inspired by the morning's discussion, they drew a picture of the way in which we might be most impacted if we had no water.
The next day in groups the children went out with the teacher to explore the water resources that are available in the school campus, with the purpose of considering how water is used by people on the school campus. And here is what we found.
To demonstrate to children another perspective of water usage, we watched a video clip showing snow monkeys soaking in hot springs in Japan.
After watching the video we tried out a thinking routine called "See, Think, Wonder" with the children. This routine is aimed to make thinking visible, to draw attention to different details, and to look more closely.
In following the routine, the children were asked the questions in this order:
· I see monkeys.
· I see water.
· I see clouds [vapor].
· Monkey is playing bubbles.
· I think they are having a bath.
· I think this is mommy and baby.
· I think they love sitting there.
· These are Japanese monkeys.
· Why does this monkey have a scratch on his nose?
· Where did he get it?
Following this discussion, each child was given a lump of clay and invited to try to create their version of a monkey in the spring and while doing so, to share their thoughts about what thought the monkeys might be doing in hot springs. Most of the ideas put forward were connected to the idea that the monkeys were having bath in the springs, and that the monkeys love it just as we do because the water in the springs looks warm and bubbly. We talked about all the ideas, and then synthesized them into the concept of the monkeys using water for pleasure. In this way we were able to add another use for water to our growing list; water as a diversion or for fun.
The last two weeks were marked with two special events. One of them was Dress Up Day. This day was preceded by several important preparations. First we introduced children to the idea and asked them if they would like to have a costume day. After excitedly agreeing this idea, children brainstormed what costumes they might have. The answers varied from superheroes and princesses to “I don’t know yet” and “I gonna be a dinosaur”.
We then created a pictograph where each child drew a happy face which represented the type of dressing up day they would prefer.
The next day we had a quick recap of the decision on yesterday’s choice for dressing up. The teachers explained that we would first need to get permission from Ms. Jan, and then let parents know. So we wrote a shared email to Ms. Jan, with children dictating and me typing the email as it was projected onto screen so the children could see as it was typed.
After reading the response from Ms. Jan giving us permission, we needed to write a letter to all the parents. Each child drew a picture and attempted to write about their costume and to sign their name at the end of the letter.
The following day brought a lot of excitement and joy. There was a wolf, a cat boy, a dinosaur, superheroes, princesses and other various characters in PS1 that day.
Suddenly we were interrupted in class by two superheroes, Superman and The Green Lantern, who dropped by to visit us. They talked with the children about our current Unit of Inquiry and then together we all sang the Alphabet song accompanied by Superman and The Green Lantern both on the guitar.
Later each child had time to look at themself in the mirror and describe their costume and the reason they chose it before drawing a self portrait.
Passport check at different language stations
The second exciting event in the past two weeks was when children arrived at school and were each given a passport with their name on the front in Latin, and their photograph. Each page represented a different script, and the children were invited to visit different tables. Each table had a parent, member of staff or faculty who represented a different language.
To prepare the children for Passport Day, we talked about the importance of letters. We explored different scripts, and read a bilingual book paying attention to how both sets of letters are telling the same story, even though they may look different.
Later that day we looked with children through the passport and the child’s name that was written on each page and shared which script was the most enjoy looking at and why.
The children were so delightful that day about the whole event, parents’ involvements and their own passport so we let children to take their passports home and share them with you. We hope you enjoyed to look through the passports with various scripts with your children.
This learning engagement was made possible due to the active participation of lots of helping hands from our school community, and we would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to those who helped us.
We began our new Unit of Inquiry, Letters help us organize our world with an interesting provocation, to get the inquiry started. One morning after coming back to school children found the letters H,p and e lying on the carpet. We followed up with a discussion about what it could mean. We tried to spell the letters out in different ways including and 'phe', 'peh' but they appeared to only spell nonsense words so we left them on the white board to see whether anything would happen next.
The next morning the children arrived and discovered three more letters l, m and e. We put all the letters on to the white board and moved them around again until we spelled out a phrase that really made sense: 'Help me'. We discussed whom this message might be from. What could it mean, and what does someone need help with?
The children came up with some interesting ideas, to explain who they think left the Help me message including:
We decided as a group to write a letter back to the mystery message writer. I wrote down what children dictated to me on a large piece of paper, and each child signed the shared letter and add a picture of themselves. We left our letter on the carpet over the weekend, and looked forward to hearing from the mystery writer once more.
The next week the children came to the classroom and were exited to find a reply from T-Rex the Dinosaur asking for help because he couldn’t find any fresh fruit in the winter season. After we had picked the right recipe for fruit salad, the children made delicious one for the dinosaur who paid a visit to our classroom, and was welcomed by them with a lot of warm hugs.
As a follow, up we took time to reflect and talk with the children about how letters, as they create words, help us to organize our world and often make it exciting and fun.
This week, we are very happy to introduce and welcome four new students who have joined our class. They are Joseph, Leo, Thea and Abdubosit!
We also played a guessing game where the children had four basic 2D shapes in a bag, and the same 4 in front of them. The aim of the game was for each child to put a hand onto the bag without looking and try to guess which shape it was, then to point to corresponding shape in front of them and name it if they could. Most of the children followed the rules and even closed their eyes when feeling a shape inside the bag. To encourage the children’s creativity and to help develop the idea that two or more shapes can be put together to make a new one, we provide them with different sets of shapes of various materials and sizes, including magnetic shapes, and shapes cut out of paper, plastic and made of wood. The children happily experimented and designed houses, animals, airplanes and even family members, all made out of different shapes put together.
The final episode of our shape exploration happened both outside and inside the classroom. We placed circles, stars, squares, rectangles and triangles all over our playground and then took the children outdoors. Then we arranged a competition: “Who can be first to come to the circle, to the star?.” and so on. The children were exited to move from one shape to another. Then we went on a shape walk in groups of three, looking for shapes around the ELC and beyond. The children used iPads to take photos of the shapes they found.
On Tuesday, 12th December the ELC music show will take place. Both PS1 and PS2 students will be involved. Parents are invited to come and see the children’s performance at 8:30am in the music room.
On Friday, 15th December, on the last day of school before the winter break we are holding a cookie swap. All children are asked to bring a container with 30 homemade cookies to share with classmates, and an additional container to take home cookies also. Please, remember our NO NUTS policy! On this day, children are invited wear pajamas if they want to.
We are continuing our musical exploration with the children and are particularly focusing on our second Line of Inquiry, how music can connect us to our thoughts and feelings . First we invited the children to listen to a happy sounding sample of music, for this purpose we used an excerpt from Mozart’s piece “The Marriage of Figaro”. Some of the children started excitedly clapping and smiling. I asked the children: how does this make you feel? The children answers were: happy and excited. Then each student was asked to choose one colour from a selection of coloured pencils.
They were asked:
We noticed that most of the children chose their favourite colour for ‘happy’ music and some of them could explain it by saying, for example:
After this we asked the children what picture would they draw to represent this song. Pictures that represented children’s thoughts varied from abstract drawings with harsh strokes to images of animals and family members.
The next day children listened to the theme music from the film “Shindler’s list”; a sad sounding piece of music and we took the same steps as the previous day. This time some children chose darker shades of their favourite colour or different colour altogether. Some children chose the same as the previous day. Their drawings reflected the sad music. Some children drew the same characters but this time said: "It is a sad princess” or “...a sad spider”.
As a conclusion, we sat in a circle, with each child in possession of their two drawings. The children listened to the short clips of both the happy and sad music while focusing on theirconnected drawings and then we brainstormed about the differences between them.
We have started our new Unit of Inquiry, Music inspires and is inspired by thoughts and feelings and this week have concentrated on the first Line of Inquiry, Music all around us. On the first day, to widen the children's idea of what music is, we let them listen to the soundtrack of the STOMP trailer without watching the video. Afterwards we asked the follow up questions: What do you hear? What do you think about this? What do you feel? STOMP is a musical where the performers use everyday objects such as brooms, trashcans and chairs instead of instruments to make music. When listening, the children got very excited and started to clap on their knees along to the music. Then they responded to the questions outlined above that they heard: 'a drum', '[a] Boom!'. Some of the children demonstrated their ideas through gesture, imitating drum playing. They said they felt happy and excited about the music.
After this discussion, the children focused on drawing what they thought was happening and what they could hear. We noticed that some of them were drawing very emotionally, as if still under the impression of what they had heard.
The next day we played STOMP again but this time we also watched the accompanying video. The children appeared frozen for the first minute with all their attention focused on what was going on in the performance. Then they got very excited and started to bang on the floor and on their laps in rhythm, smiling at each other. I asked them the same questions as the day before; What do you see? What do you think? What do you feel? This time we went deeper by talking about what children saw in this video, rather than heard and we discussed whether they thought it was that music or not. Some of the children's responds were:
· "It is music."
· "Happy music!"
As a follow up we presented the children with some objects similar to the “instruments” from the video and added some more so that the children could have a choice. The 'instruments' we provided were: a broom, plastic bottles, caps filled with various seeds as shakers, rocks, a paper bag, a rolled up piece of paper, a basketball and a can with a wooden stick. After each child had chosen one “instrument” we went outside to feel free to make a big noise and then everyone enthusiastically played their own music inspired by what they had seen in STOMP.
Last week we started our second line of inquiry, Becoming part of a class community. The key concept for this line of inquiry is change and the related concept is belonging. During morning meeting we talked about the main change that happened since children had started school; that now they are part of the class community and what things we do together as a class. The children gave examples such as ‘we play together’, ‘we read books’, ‘we line up’, ‘we change shoes’ and ‘we tidy up’.
To give children a concrete example of change, we presented them with different activities where they could see change taking place. They observed ice melting and watched a video where a shapeless piece of clay turned into a pot. Following this, each student tried to create their own artwork with a piece of playdough, changing it from one thing into another. A toy car washing station gave the children an idea about changing something from dirty to clean. They enjoyed driving toy cars on the 'road' and when they got dirty, washing them in the water with tooth brushes and then sending cars to “the park” on the plastic tray to dry and get ready for another round. In order to strengthen their understanding of the essential agreements we set up, we separated an area near the sink with chairs and explained to the children that we need to take turns to play in this small area.
Our essential agreements are: