Swoop into Kindergarten

life in kindergarten at Laguna Blanca

Field Trip!

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Before I even got in my car this morning to head to school, I received a phone call from my husband, who had left about five minutes earlier. He called to alert me to excitement on our driveway…bear poop! We live in the mountains of Carpinteria and know that there are bears around the property. I have only seen one on the driveway once, several years ago, so this was  proof that the bears are still around. The excitement also came from the fact that I was bringing my class to the ranch later in the morning for a field trip as part of our owl and bat unit, and they would be able to see the bear scat first hand!

So, after Tecolote Tuesday, we loaded up the small bus, and began the 20-minute trip out to the ranch, with a caravan of almost a dozen parents-in-cars following closely behind. I started talking to the students about what we would see at the ranch and shared with them all the different types of wildlife that inhabit the area, from bobcats and deer, to ground squirrels, to owls and hawks, to BEARS! Oh, were the students excited!  Bears!

As the bus neared the evidence of the bear on the driveway, we looked out the window to get a birds eye view. You should have heard the squeals of excitement, awe, and amazement. And things only got better from there! As we disembarked the bus and began the walk on the ranch road to the owl box, my husband spotted bear tracks! Fresh bear tracks! What are the odds that the bear would visit last night and leave paw prints down the same exact road we would be walking on?!  The prints were gigantic!

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It was incredible to watch the students follow the path that the bear had taken!

As we continued down the dirt road, the students could see an owl box in the distance. Our focus then shifted from bears to owls. We had an owl box on a table for the students to explore.

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They enjoyed opening the trap door that my husband uses to clean out the boxes annually. I demonstrated how the boxes are positioned away from the morning sun, since owls are nocturnal. Then it was time to see if the owl box that was “in the field” had anything in it.  My husband climbed up to the top of the backhoe bucket and opened the trap door.

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Inside were dozens of owl pellets! He put those in a bucket and saved them off to the side. He had also found a pile of remains from last year that we put on a large table.

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Students were given rubber gloves and tweezers and were invited to pick apart the pile to see what they could find.

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Ms. Svedlund, our science instructor, had brought printouts of possible bones we could find. The students tried matching the bones they unearthed to those on her papers. We found skulls, leg bones, tail bones, hip bones, pelvis bones, foot bones, and MORE!

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Next, we laid the owl pellets on the table for the students to see. The students did such a great job of using just their sense of sight!

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So what exactly is an owl pellet? Well, owls swallow their prey whole. The parts of the animals that they can’t digest, like bones, fur, and tails, are squished together to form a pellet. The pellet is then regurgitated.

Believe it or not, the students were quite hungry following our adventure. We headed to our house, did some hand washing, and then had a snack. After the snack, students had a chance to visit our chickens and Peaches, the turkey, who was hatched several years ago at Lower School.

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They fed them scratch grains and table scraps. The students also checked the egg boxes, but came up empty handed. We made our way down to the horse corral, where the students had a chance to pet Sunny, our horse.

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A great day was had by all!

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Mummies, Monsters, and More!

It was Friday Fun again today! In the kitchen, students made Mummy Dogs!monster - Copy   Here is the recipe in case you want to make Mummy Dogs for your Halloween dinner!

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Another Friday Fun activity today was Monster Finger Reading! Students were each given a monster finger to use to encourage them to touch each words as they are reading.

Here is a video of a student reading using the monster finger. Please click on the title to hear it:

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 Students also painted mini chalkboards. We will use these chalkboards next week to practice blending sounds. After practicing, the chalkboards will be sent home, where students can use them to teach others how to blend sounds! I will post more next week to show how we used the chalkboards.

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SUPER FUN Friday Fun!

Today we had a super, mega-fun, Friday Fun! Not only is it the last day of Spirit Week, but it is also our jogathon! It was the perfect morning for crafting and cooking!

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We did our first sewing project of the year – squishy squash! Students did a whip-stitch through a piece of orange minky fabric. I had pre-cute 6-to-8-inch in diameter circles and marked each one with a series of black dots on the reverse side. Students used these black dots as a guide on where to place their needles. We got through all the sewing without a single pin prick! Thank you so much to the FOUR parent volunteers who came and helped with this cute sewing project.

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In the kitchen we made egg boats to celebrate Columbus Day. This is a quick and easy recipe that the children made themselves. Here is the recipe:

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The final activity was painting owl stained glass window decorations. These will look perfect hanging in our back windows in preparation for Owls in Wonderland.

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Goodbye Five Senses, Hello Owls and Bats!

We officially finished studying Five Senses today with a sticker sort, which demonstrated what the students have learned during the course of the unit. Before this culminating activity, students engaged in a few hands-on activities. First, when they were exploring their sense of sight they looked through both magnifying glasses and kaleidoscopes, and illustrated what they saw in their Five Senses Notebook.

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Students also used their five senses to describe a banana. Below is an example:

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On Monday, we will begin our Owl and Bat Unit by finding out what students already know about these fascinating animals.

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During the course of the unit, we will chart what we learned and note any misconceptions we may have had.

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Lane Farms

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Our field trip to Lane Farms was a huge success. We had so much fun exploring the local farm that has been in the Goleta Valley since the 1860’s! Mrs. Lane gave us a brief history of the farm and told us about all the fun things we would find. They grow many different crops…not just pumpkins! Mr. Lane even showed us a machine that his family used in years past that would shuck the corn off the cob. The kernels would then be used to feed the livestock.

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We got to visit the animals,

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and each student had the chance to “drive” a tractor! They were beyond thrilled with that!

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We went on a hay ride around the farm and then, at last, it was time for the children to pick a special pumpkin.

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What a great morning!  The children did such a great job that I already scheduled our next field trip for the end of this month. We will head to Carpinteria to the Delwiche Ranch to learn about owls!

 

 

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Going on a Bear Hunt!

The students went on a bear hunt in the classroom these past few days where they were hunting for syllables! I taped some images of bears that had pictures that illustrated a word with either one, two, or three syllables to the walls and cabinets around the classroom.

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Students took a clipboard with a worksheet attached and tried to find twelve different bears to use to identify how many syllables each word had. This activity was great because it got the students moving; they practiced writing, and they were counting syllables!

 

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They looked at the image, clapped the syllables, and then wrote the word in the correct category.

Here is what the worksheet looks like:

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 The students enjoyed the activity so much that many asked to finish during Choice Time! I’d say that’s a sure sign of a successful activity! (Activity from Christine Lamb, Teachers Pay Teachers)

 

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Journal Writing

I found the neatest journals this summer, and I am so excited to have the kindergarteners begin  using them. In the past, journal writing during the months of September and October have caused a lot of anxiety for the kindergarten students. Often, they struggled to sound out words and form the letters. They had so many ideas in their heads that they wanted to get down on paper, they ended up being overwhelmed.

So when I saw these journals that offered topics with word choices, I jumped on it! The students have really enjoyed writing in these. They happily use their “best guess” spelling and are excited to finish the sentences! Here are some examples:

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I am thrilled that the students are feeling so positive about the writing process and will share more entries soon!

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