Plants and the Primary Garden

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.

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Kindergarten Community Field Trips

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!

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Families and Communities

Once we’ve met our basic human needs, we begin thinking about how to enrich our lives. One of the most fundamental ways we do this is to create a family.

In this day and age families look very different. Some children have two parents, while other have one. Some children live with grandparents or aunt or uncles. Some children have brother and sisters. Others have step-brothers and sisters or step-parents. Sometimes children are adopted. Pets and close friends can be part of your family!

Regardless of what a family looks like, we agreed that families are filled with the people we love.

When people come together to share a space, interest, or values, they are a community. We are a part of many different communities—our hometown, hobbies, sports teams, or spiritual group. Even our school is a community!

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Baby Animals and Spring

Spring is here! Spring, along with baby animals, is our science topic this week. We have been taking note of the signs of spring around us—warmer weather, rain storms, spots of green peeking out of the ground, and many birds returning to our outdoor classroom. We also discussed that spring is a time of new life for both plants and animals. This is a time when plants emerge from seeds and many animal babies are born. Next on the list, is a walk around our school to look for more signs of spring.

As the weather continues to warm (and the snow finally stops!), we will have the chance to see these signs of life up close. We will begin our discussion of plants as we start our garden. We will even have some baby animals visit our classroom! These last few months are going to be very exciting for our young scientists.

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Oceans in Primary

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.

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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.

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Fossils and Dinosaurs

This week we are talking about dinosaurs and fossils. We talked about how dinosaurs came to be, when they lived, what modern animals they are related to, and how they became extinct.  To everyone’s delight, we set out our collection of replica dinosaurs. These replicas are from the Carnegie Museum series, ranging from 1:10 to 1:60 in scale, and painted to reflect scientists’ best guesses on what each dinosaur might have looked like. Accuracy in dinosaurs is very important at this age, as many of our students are already experts. Children also explored dinosaurs by cutting them out of play dough, counting and sorting them, reading many different books about them, and playing dinosaur games.

This week, we also talked about fossils and how they are formed, reenacting the cycle with play dough. Students were so inspired, they got fossil books to compare with the fossils in our outdoor classroom. Kindergarteners became paleontologists and used the scientific method to find “fossils” in chocolate chip cookies. What a delicious Kindergarten studio!

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Valentine bags

Hands down, one of our students’ favorite days is when we get to meet with our Upper Unit Partners. Last week we worked on Valentine bags in preparation for the holiday. There were lots of hearts—and hugs!

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The Structure of the Earth and Rocks

 

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.

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Light and Sound

This week we are exploring light and sound! As part of our exploration of light we used a prism to separate sunlight into the colors of the rainbow. Children also used mirrors to bounce light from one surface to another, and found out what they looked like in a mirror that was convex or concave. Other students used a flashlight and colored plastic paddles to change the color of light.

When energy causes an object to vibrate, the vibrations travel through the air to our eardrums, and we hear a sound! We investigated sound in several different ways. Using a Slinky, we tried to imagine how sound travels through the air in waves. We explored the connection between the size and shape of an object and the sounds it can make, trying out a rubber band and box “guitar” and listening to the pitches of tuning forks.

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