Kids-Niche Feature: Fireweed Second Grade

Here's this week's glimpse into what's happening in our Kids Niche Programs! These feature lessons, activities, and saunters from a different classroom each week.

Today’s Feature: Fireweed Learns About Geology

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Right before Spring Break, the Fireweeds did an activity for our geology unit. 

After we got our supplies ready, the kids were split into two groups. One group worked on team building through games. The other group used a cooperative effort to break open a geode.  When the geodes were opened, we cleaned them up and analyze the surprise inside. 

Our learning objectives were to explore the natural world with a hands-on activity. Develop communication skills and strategic planning, all while building patience. The team building game and the activity tested our ability to wait for your turn, accepting not getting your way and supporting others.

Classroom Feature: Steller's Jays Classroom

Here's this week's glimpse into what's happening in and out of our classrooms in the day school! These feature lessons, activities, centers, and saunters from a different classroom each week.

Today's feature: Steller’s Jays Shadow Room

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This week we transformed our Dramatic Play space into a light and shadow room. We darkened the walls and set up an overhead projector for the children to explore. On our shelves are many different loose parts (open-ended materials the students can explore and move freely), that can be related to weather. We are combining our learning about weather with our investigation of light and shadow.

“Overhead projectors are tools capable of creating worlds crowded with different, often unexpected phenomena, activating wonder and research in everyday spaces.” -100 Languages of Children Exhibit

To learn more about light and shadows and how they can contribute to children’s learning you can search Reggio Emilia or Loris Malaguzzi.

  • Children practiced observing objects and events with curiosity by investigate how moving a 3D object on a projector and observing the shadow changes the rules of the object.

  • Children practiced actively participating in conversations when they noticed that the pink flower’s shadow was not pink, but the transparent yellow plastic’s shadow was yellow.

  • Children practiced cause and effect when they noticed that when they turned the red knob one way the light box became smaller, and when they turned the red knob the other way the light box became larger.

  • Children practiced using thinking skills to resolve conflicts when someone turned the projector light off and they needed to figure out how to get the light turned back on.

  • Children practice comparing and measuring when they grouped loose parts based on their similarities or differences.

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Kids-Niche Feature: Beargrass 3rd-5th Grade

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Here's this week's glimpse into what's happening in our Kids Niche Programs! These feature lessons, activities, and saunters from a different classroom each week.

Today’s Feature: Beargrass goes Cross Country Skiing

In March, Beargrass was lucky to get to borrow skis from the ZANY program and go skiing before the snow melted! We sauntered to the PEAS Farm trail, and got to take turns going down the small hill on the trail while those watching cheered on their friends. For some kids, it was their first time skiing. It was a fun trip, getting to try out different ways of exploring the world we live in! 

Our learning objectives for this trip were to work on team building, showing students they can empower one another when experience levels differ, to foster a connection to place through exploration and adventure, and (most importantly) to have fun!

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Classroom Feature: Meadowlarks Preschool Classroom

Here's this week's glimpse into what's happening in and out of our classrooms in the day school! These feature lessons, activities, centers, and saunters from a different classroom each week.

Today's feature: Meadowlarks Volcano Research

Volcano Research Questions

After bringing back many books about volcanoes from the Missoula Public Library, we decided to investigate volcanoes as a class. During Lunchtime Lesson on Monday, we came up with a list of questions that we have about volcanoes. The Meadowlarks had SO many questions, that I filled up the entire board! We also talked about the difference between a question and a story during this time (e.g. Questions can start with “I wonder…” but a story often cannot). During this time, we were also able to practice our letter/sound recognition as many Meadowlarks started to notice that most of our questions started with HOW. How does hot lava turn into rock? How does a volcano erupt? How does hot lava get so hot?

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Volcano Research: Books, Videos, and Drawings/Creations

Most of our investigations as Meadowlark Class so far this year have involved experiments. So to start off our volcano investigation, we talked about how sometimes scientists need to do background research instead of an experiment (maybe someone else already discovered the answer to a question). We revised the questions we had come up with on the board then watched various videos and read various books in order to try and answer our questions. The Meadowlarks loved having videos projected onto the classroom wall. We watched educational videos about volcanoes but also watched real life footage of volcanoes erupting in Hawaii and Iceland. By watching these real life eruptions, we learned that many eruptions are not explosive or scary. We read a bunch of the books on volcanoes that we checked out from the library to answer our questions as well. Many Meadowlarks then chose to express their newfound knowledge of volcanoes by drawing pictures (these are posted next to our volcano picture at Jumping Spider’s Science Center) or building volcano related structures on the carpet.

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Volcanologist Dramatic Play

As the Meadowlark’s interest in volcanoes and volcanology grew, we decided to turn Coyote’s Dramatic Play Center into a volcano laboratory. The Meadowlarks have spent the past week pretending to be volcanologists: weighing and measuring various rocks, collecting data, taking samples, making observations, etc. While weighing and measuring all the different rocks, we made the discovery that the lava rocks were much lighter than different rocks that were the same size. Interesting! This volcanologist dramatic play also continued outside on the playground. Many Meadowlarks pretended to be volcanologists among the lava (puddles) and continued to collect and measure lava rocks (chunks of ice/snow). Through our dramatic play and other research, we learned that volcanologists help to save people’s lives by monitoring volcanoes around the world and warning people if a volcano might erupt. 

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Learning Objectives

  • Use technology as a tool for learning new information

  • Engage in age-appropriate questions to challenge thinking

  • Demonstrate curiosity and fascination

  • Investigate rocks and landscapes

  • Allow others to share preconceived notions and discuss

  • Set up simple addition problems

  • Make simple comparisons

  • Explore and describe properties/characteristics of objects/materials and how they can be changed

  • Engage in cooperative peer play in which there is a shared purpose

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Kids-Niche Feature: Shooting Stars Preschool Program

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Here's this week's glimpse into what's happening in our Kids Niche Programs! These feature lessons, activities, and saunters from a different classroom each week.

Today’s Feature: Shooting Stars Explore Different Houses

Recently, the Shooting Stars have been exploring different kinds of houses, both in our community and around the world. Using images of houses made out of varying materials as inspiration, we have created neighborhoods using blocks and lights, transformed playdough into adobe houses, and used natural materials to make tree houses.

We also created a list of criteria for our “dream house” complete with glittering walls, a big garden, and a sign that says “Everybody Welcome.”

Learning objectives:

  • Observation- What do we know about houses in our community?

  • Appreciation for cultural differences- How are houses around the world different from houses in Missoula?

  • Planning and problem-solving- I want to build a two-story house. How can I get my structure to stand? What materials can I use?

Classroom Feature: Chickadee Preschool Classroom

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Here's this week's glimpse into what's happening in and out of our classrooms in the day school! These feature lessons, activities, centers, and saunters from a different classroom each week.

Today's feature: Chickadees Create Sea Foam

In the Chickadee classroom this past week, we have been creating and exploring sea foam in our sensory table.  This surprisingly simple and engaging process provides visual and kinetic learning opportunities and gave us a chance to develop hypotheses and make observations.  It also has provided the opportunity to explore cause and effect and discuss how properties change and why.

To replicate this experience in your home put 2 TBS dish soap and ¼ cup water in a large, plastic, rectangular container and use your electric mixer to froth it up.  Add several drops of blue food coloring and continue to mix until the mixture is foamy. Add plastic animals that would live in the ocean and some sea shells if you would like to add another element to extend the play. Develop hypotheses about what it will be like after it sits overnight, make some observations the next day, and remix for continued exploration!

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