"The child is in me still...and sometimes not so still."
Fred Rogers

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trees: A Guided Journey

Thank you families for your help with bringing in baskets, apples and leaves to supplement our Dramatic Play Area. Thank you also for your help at the orchard. It is very much appreciated and the adventures continue.

TREES: A Guided Journey in Nature

Follow us along on our project and enjoy the pictures in the attachments below.

Phase 1:

We created a Mind Map of "What children know", "What they think they know" and "What they want to learn". After explorations of the three phases, children revisit mind map to see if there are new learnings and changes in their thinking.

Explore varied kinds of trees:

1. We explored the chestnuts from my backyard tree. Children were not familiar with what a chestnut looked like within the casing! Very interesting observations and answers about what they thought this was. Children discovered that every casing had three pieces and that inside the casing, there was not always the same number of nuts. We discovered swirls on the smooth nut. Children loved sketching the different observations that they noticed on the nuts in their math counting books. (re. chestnuts were in the counting jar one morning).

2. We planted a coniferous tree and did our first sketching of a three dimensional object onto two dimensional paper. Children made some very interesting observations based on their planting experience of the tree and of their observational experiences of looking at the tree from all angles. Great first experience for the children.

2. We had a scheduled visit to the apple orchard. With this as a catalyst for discussion, we furthered our learning about colors of apples from our earlier discoveries about colors. We learn that apples can be yellow, green and red. Children are asked what their favorite color of apple is.
~A graph is posted of who likes what color of apple.
~Children then made stuffed apples with paper bags and newspaper. They painted their apple their favorite color.
~Once the apples were dried, children returned to circle time with their apples and we sorted the apples by color. There are three apple trees (3 colors). We began by counting all of the apples. Then we counted the apples of each color. We decided which was more, less or the same.
We sang the song, "10 red apples" (revised the lyrics depending on what color we are singing about and how many apples are in the tree. Each child could pick their own apple from the tree. This is an excellent song to reinforce rhythm, one to one correspondence, early subtraction concepts, oral language development and simple predictions. The visuals are concrete and all children can be successful.
~Children then explore real apples: Balance scales are made accessible to weigh the difference between chestnuts and an apple. How many chestnuts does it take to weigh the same as an apple? Children reflected their results through tallying.

~Children were given apples cut in half. With magnifying glasses, the children used tweezers to remove the seeds. Children tallied the number of seeds in each apple. Very interesting discoveries. Children then got to eat their apple. This was a great numeracy, science, language arts and fine motor activity. All of the children loved the mystery of what was uncovered inside of each apple. Today we read, Johnny Appleseed to reflect on how something little, can make a big difference.

Phase 2:

We created apple guided readers, based on the three colors of apples that we learned about. Children used their discernment about reading the color word and finding the color word embedded in each page of the guided reader. The color word was printed on each color of apple to help with individual problem solver for each reader. Once the author and illustrator finished his/her book, it was read back to the teacher and a small group of one to two friends. We will further followup of using the reader with a larger group of children and we will send home a story sack of the child's book, along with a video of our apple picking adventures, with a fiction and non-fiction book about apples and an apple tree counting activity to explore with their families. Children can read Apples guided reader to families independently.
~We go to the apple orchard.
~We cook with apples.
~We create with apples. (apple prints, dried apples, apple dolls).

Coming up.........

Phase 3: Children take home storysack to share with their families. The children journal favorite parts about the story sack and share at circle time with their classmates about what they liked about it. Then another child can take home the storysack to share with their family until each child has a turn.

Emma wondered where all these fun activities came from. Please explore this site, as it is wonderful! Thanks to a colleague for sharing this great resource!


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