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
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:
Over the past weeks we first focused with the children on our first line of inquiry: Choices we make, and tried to look at choices from different perspectives. We started by talking about what choices children make for themselves at home and they shared, for example, what they choose for breakfast and which games they choose to play. To explore our school surroundings, which are completely new for most of our children, and to complement our focus on choices we make, we took a trip to our beautiful school garden next to the Elementary building. The children explored the garden with curiosity, peeking under leaves, and were exited to find some fruit including tomato, turnip and pepper. After that we took some time to reflect on what we had observed, and each child drew a picture of a favourite plant. Then children shared their thoughts when asked: ”What did you choose to draw? Why?”. When we came back to the classroom the children were given a choice of variety of vegetables cut in half to print with on a piece of fabric. The art work we got as a result now decorates one of our classroom walls.
We also discussed choices we make when we feel happy, upset or angry. Ms.Wah Wah and Ms. Nadejda acted out with puppets a situation when cat and sheep are not able to share Lego pieces even though they both want to do the same thing, namely build a tower. We asked the children for suggestions on how to help sheep and cat, and they suggested:
The first two weeks in our class were a great success! The boys and girls have done a great job of adjusting to our daily routine. This time has been dedicated to allowing the children to become familiar and comfortable with their new surroundings, and to encouraging them to begin to get to know both their classmates and teachers better. Thank you all for sending a family photograph to school. We have created a class family album and the children are enjoying looking at it and sharing their photograph with friends, naming each family member as they do.
Next week we will be beginning our first Unit of Inquiry, Who we are. Our first Central Idea, which we sometimes refer to as our 'big idea', is 'Our choices define who we are as individuals and as a community.' This year we made the exciting decision (or choice) as an entire Elementary School staff to use this same Central Idea for every grade level. In addition to all the students and teaching staff focusing on this big idea during curriculum time, teachers are also focusing on what this means for us as a staff. Our goal is that in all focusing on this idea at the same time, we will set the year off to an excellent start as we, students and adults, make collaborative choices as to how we want to behave, what kind of individuals we each want to be, and what sort of community we want to work together to create. In order to ensure that the learning is developmentally appropriate, the Lines of Inquiry and Key Concepts will differ from grade to grade.
You can find a more detailed outline of the first Unit of Inquiry on the 'Unit of Inquiry' page found on one of the tabs at the top of this home page
The first few weeks have been days full of observation, exploration and investigation in our new room and with each other. The photographs below are a small snapshot of all the learning that has been taking place.