For the past month, the Primary students have been studying plants. Spring is the perfect time to talk about plants as they begin growing all around us.
We began with roots and stems. Roots are typically the first part to emerge from a seed, drawing in water and nutrients and keeping the plants firmly in place. We had many examples of roots on our shelf—beets, radishes, carrots, and turnips. We also discussed stems, moving water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves. We put celery in a jar of red water which allows us to observe the movement of water from the jar to the top of the celery.
Our study continued with flowers, seeds, and fruit. We dissected a lily to help learn the names of the parts of a flower. We talked about delicious fruit and how it encourages animals to eat and carry the seeds to help more plants grow. We ate some mango to sweeten the conversation!
When we are in our outdoor classroom, we have been observing the plants as they emerge from the ground and the leaves appearing on the trees. Simply being in the outdoors can be one of the greatest learning experiences we can provide!
One of our parents, Ashley, helped us plant seeds to grow vegetables and herbs in our classroom garden. Some, like lettuce, will grow quickly enough for us to harvest and taste a little bit of our crop before the end of school. Others, like melons, will grow all summer and be ready for the Primary class next fall. Everyone will help take care of our garden and watch the plants grow.
As part of our Social Studies unit on Communities, the kindergarten class took two field trips, one to City Hall and the other to Patterson’s Cafe. The kindergartners are hard at work developing their own “imaginary community” so they were full of questions at both locations. At the city building they got to see how decisions are made about development, roads, utilities, and beyond. They were especially interested when City Manager, Douglas Elliot, shared the plans for the new swimming pool at the Oxford Community Park. We’d like to extend a huge thank you to the City of Oxford for taking the time out of their day to host our group.
Our second community trip was a walking field trip to Patterson’s Cafe. Building on the concepts discussed in the classroom about community, jobs, stores, and money. Now we had the chance to see how a real business runs.
We began by having lunch, which was delicious! And enjoyed a lot of laughs. Then each child had a chance to look at their bill, assess how much they needed to pay, and learn how to leave a tip.
We then got a behind-the-scenes tour with Michelle Patterson who showed us how many tables the restaurant has, the kitchen, stock room, and dishwasher. We even got a chance to see just how big and cold the refrigerator is by walking in!
Special thanks to Mike and Michelle Patterson for cooking a delicious lunch and giving a fantastic tour!
This week we are studying oceans. We talked about the different kinds of life in the ocean, and about what ocean animals eat. Then we explored the idea that the ocean has different zones. Each zone is inhabited by its own set of plants and animals, which have adapted to that particular environment. We read the book Down, Down, Down by Steve Jenkins. This book takes you from the surface of the ocean through the sunlight zone, the twilight zone, the dark zone, and all the way down to the bottom of the Challenger Deep, almost seven miles below the surface.
Students have been investigating, sorting, and counting shells. They have been “diving” in the ocean in our outdoor classroom, and exploring the wide variety of animals that inhabit the waters.
Last week we started talking about an exciting African country—Egypt! The tricky part of talking about Egypt is finding a balance between investigating all the fascinating aspects of the ancient civilization while still emphasizing that the modern Egypt has cities and cars and children who live lives quite similar to their own. We read books about Egypt, and what it’s like to live there. We talked about how Cairo is a huge city, and that most Egyptians are Muslim.
Once we felt everyone had a good handle on modern Egypt, we dove into talking about pharaohs, pyramids, hieroglyphs, and mummies. We emphasized that mummies are not alive, contrary to what we sometimes see in books and movies. We talked about how challenging it was to build a pyramid, and the maze of passages and chambers that lay inside.
Our students have loved exploring Egypt with their hands—building pyramids with our blocks inside and constructing their own pyramids outside. They also created a cartouche necklace by using hieroglyphs to represent their name.
This week, students in Primary are studying rocks and the Earth. We talked about the three types of rock and how each type of rock is part of the rock cycle. Molten rock fromed beneath the earth’s crust is brought to the surface by volcanoes. After the lava cools, this igneous rock can be transformed into sedimentary or metamorphic rock. Then it can be pushed deep inside the earth again, where it will melt and the cycle will start again.
We demonstrated these three kinds of rocks with soft candy—adding pressure to simulate sedimentary rocks, some heat and pressure for metamorphic rocks, and a lot of heat for igneous rocks. We watched the components of dirt separate when mixed with water and allowed to settle and erupted our volcano model. We also sliced open a hard boiled egg to see that it has layers similar to our planet.
This topic has led to numerous drawings and the writing of books showing the incredible information gained by studying rocks.