Whose Nest is This?

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Last week one of our students found a small nest on her way to school. The exploration of the nest during our sharing circle produced a lot of wonderment from the students:
E.A.: I wonder what kind of bird made it. I thought maybe a sparrow or a robin or a hummingbird.
H.K.: I wonder if a baby was born in the nest.
J.M.: I wonder why the nest is so small. Can it be a real nest? Maybe it’s too small to be somebody’s nest.
G.M.: I wonder where the nest came from. Maybe it was in a tree and the wind blew it down and then E.A. found it.
J.K.: I wonder what the leaves inside are for.
C.G.: I wonder where the baby has gone to.
A.: I wonder where the mom has gone to.

After reading some supporting materials about birds and their nests and the nests of other creatures, we created a provocation to see who the children thought may have made the nest. The small size of the nest was quite puzzling to the children, as they could not seem to imagine how a bird and her babies could fit inside.

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Here is the drawing S.M. made after looking inside one of our nest books:

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S.M: “A bee. It has to be something so small because the nest is so small.”

Here are a few samples of some other ideas the children came up with:

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I am excited to see where this discussion goes next week as we delve into how animals prepare for winter and explore other nests in our neighbourhood!

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Our Wonderful Tree: A Collaborative Art Piece

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This week, two projects we have been working on came together at the Art Studio: The Dot Project and our Tree Study. I could easily tell you all about it, but instead we asked the students to write about what they created, how they made it, and how they felt about it. Here is what the children wanted to say (they even came up with the title!):

Our Wonderful Tree: A Beautiful Art Piece
We made art at the Art Studio – something we’ve never made before! We used Plasticine. Plasticine is like Playdough except it is hard. We had to rub the Plasticine with our hands to warm it up. Some of us blew hot air on it or put it on the heater to make it soft. We made a tree trunk and tree branches. Then, we each made a leaf in the shape of a dot. Some of us put our leaves on top of other leaves. We used all the colours of the rainbow (and the colours of fall). Some of us mixed up the colours to make swirls of colour. Our Kindergarten helpers helped us add grass and a butterfly and a flower to our work. Our work makes us happy because it’s so big! We are surprised that we made something that we’ve never made before and it turned out so nice. We are proud that we made such nice art. Some of us are sad that we are finished because we wanted to keep doing more!

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Stone Towers

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This term we have been working on a tower inquiry. As with any inquiry we are engaged in, I am constantly looking for ways to provoke or enhance student thinking and learning throughout various centres in the classroom. In the summer time I visited the beach quite regularly and was always fascinated by the small stone towers that were left behind on the beach by talented beach-combing architects. Of course, eventually I was inspired to build my own…and I snapped a picture of my creation. This week I placed a picture of my stone tower, along with a challenge to my students, in our small building area. Since tower building with rocks is a bit of a challenge, I was looking for the children to use what they have learned about balance and problem solving to build the tallest tower they could. I also wanted to introduce them to the concept of recording their work on paper, so I provided them with paper, fine tipped markers, and crayons. This is how the centre looked:

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The children were quite excited to give this challenge a go. As they worked, I took notes on how they approached the challenge, what strategies they used, and how they problem solved. The children most enjoyed recording their towers on paper – even taking care to draw them as accurately as they could by counting and checking how many stones they used, demonstrating each stone’s size, and colouring them in the appropriate colour.

Here are some of the students’ thinking I captured:

M.B.: “1, 2, 3, 4. I used 4. I put the big big big rock first and then I got medium sized, small and then so small at the top.”

S.M.: It looks like a snowman. I used 5 rocks. First I got a big one, and then another one the same size, and then some small ones.

A.F.: I saw they were all kinds of grey colours. I used 3 stones. I didn’t use more because I was worried it would make it fall down.

A: I need the flatter ones. I got five! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!

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Stay tuned for more updates on our tower inquiry!

The Colours of Fall Inquiry

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In October we went on our first nature walk of the school year. In the weeks leading up to our walk, many children had begun to notice the changes that were happening outside. Leaves were being brought in to school, the children were wearing warmer jackets, and our special Maple tree out front had started to turn red.

Before our walk, the children were given a job to do. They were asked to look for evidence of the colours of fall. While we were outside we took pictures and collected samples of the children’s discoveries. The next day, we put all our leaves, pine needles, maple seeds, and pine cones in the middle of the carpet and talked about the colours we noticed. We decided to sort our items by colour to make it easier to see what we had found. The children identified the colour piles we would need and we placed coloured construction paper mats in brown, red, green, orange, and yellow down on the floor. Then we sorted! Each student was given an opportunity to sort some leaves. It was quite interesting to see how the leaves were debated amongst the group. Here is a conversation that arose during the process:

S: “I’m not sure about this leaf. Is it red?”


[some children say no, others say yes]


J: “Put it on the red mat and see.”


S: “It doesn’t look like the other red leaves”


Ms McD: “What does it mean when we say something is red? Is there one kind of red?”


[the class thinks there is one kind of red]


J: “Turn it over. The back is red. The front is just dark. It’s still red.”


[some children are satisfied with this]


W: Yes, there is more than one kind of red. There’s red and dark red.


E: And light red too.

The children were debating each leaf and from those debates were emerging concepts about colour and categorization. We decided to save our sorted colour piles by gluing our artifacts in place and pursue the children’s thinking further by creating a colour provocation at the Art Studio. Here is what our colour provocation looked like:

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At this centre we placed our colour-sorted leaves, photos from our nature walk, paint chips from the hardware store, and paint for mixing. The children were encouraged to look at the objects on the table and create their own special fall colour. After mixing, the children were asked about their process: What colour did you make? What name might you give your colour? How did you make it? Where might you see this colour outside?

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When it came to naming their colour creations, the children were quite inspired by the variety of names we read off the hardware store paint chips – names like “brilliant sun,” and “orange fiesta.” These descriptions helped the children come up with their own unique names such as, “swamp green” (J.M.), “Dark, dark, orange corn” (J.K.), “twirly brown” (W.W.), “dark super purple” (A.F.) and “jewel pink” (A.A). An important part of this project was documenting it. We decided to place the children’s paint samples (which they painted on small canvasses) along with their colour names and descriptions on the wall ‘gallery style’. We included in our documentation all of the artifacts and photographs that gave us inspiration for the project. The children love to look at the work they created. They particularly enjoy seeing the beautiful range of colours their classmates created. We can definitely feel that the idea of colour will be something we will likely revisit throughout the year.

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Has your class embarked on a colour inquiry? I’d love to hear about your experiences!