Monday, 27 October 2014

Mommy School ~ Pp is for Pumpkin

For the past weeks, we’ve been to the pumpkin festivals in Bottmingen (Switzerland) and Masevaux (France).  Our favourite was the one in Masevaux because of the beautifully decorated pumpkins.  We saw characters from Frozen, Despicable Me, The Three Little Pigs, M&M’s – all made out of pumpkins!
28.9.2014 ~ Pumpkin Festival in Mathis-Hof, Bottmingen
19.10.2014 ~ Pumpkin Festival in Masevaux 

The visits tied in nicely with our letter Pp theme, which we did last week.
Pumpkin craft
Math activities (from 1+1+1=1 and Our Little Monkeys)
Alphabet activities (from 1+1+1=1 and Our Little Monkeys)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Mommy School ~ Ss is for Superheroes and Spider

Kai has been into superheroes lately, especially Spiderman.  
So we did some superheroes activities today upon his request.
Ss crafts  superhero (idea from here) and spider (because of Spiderman!)

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A Peek into Kindergarten ~ 1st 6 Weeks

Kindergarten had their Open House last October 2nd so I had the opportunity to observe Keefe having his Math, I.T., Language & Phonics classes.  Here are some photos I took from that day:

A Look Inside
Height chart, bulletin board, weekly jobs, pretend/play corner near the entrance

Pretend/play corner at the back of the classroom, learning posters, lost tooth chart, drawings done by the students as part of their current unit of inquiry 

Big magnetic whiteboard in the middle of the classroom with various posters/charts, various math and literacy manipulatives on the sides, posters for each unit of inquiry that will be studied during kindergarten

Materials used in a typical kindergarten class (presented to parents during a coffee morning held in September)

8:15am-9:05am ~ Math
The teacher set up a few math stations for the kids to work on.  Keefe chose to do some number writing (an unpopular station!), play with some blocks and make the tallest tower using unifix cubes.  I had to take a photo of one kid hanging laundry in numerical order because it was too cute! 

After the kids worked on the stations, the teacher gathered them in the rug where she delivered her morning message.  In line with their unit of inquiry on "Friends", they learnt about each other's favourite colours.  Each child had to go in front of the interactive whiteboard and drag their photo to their favourite colour.  Math was embedded into this activity through counting and graphing (e.g. Which colour has more? Which colour has fewer? Did you notice any pattern?).  This activity was followed by an "I Like" activity where each kid had to ask their friends what they like to do and draw it on their clipboards.

9:05am-9:55am ~ I.T.
The I.T. teacher came in with a trolley of brand-new Thinkpad laptops and headphones that were carefully collected by the kids with their two hands.  The kids had to put an orange overlay on the keyboard (so that they can see the letters clearer!) before logging in with their IDs and passwords (smart kindergarteners!).  The kids were grouped according to their abilities and therefore, were assigned different I.T. tasks to do.  Keefe was assigned to the blue group so had to do some higher math skills (like counting backwards from 40, skip counting by 2's) through educational games available in Busy Things UK (subscription-based website).  I am amazed that these kids were trained to use the laptop without a mouse.  At the end of the I.T. class, each kid had to shut down and return all their equipment back to the trolley.

9:55am-10:30am ~ Morning Break
The kids had their morning snack, quiet time and outdoor play.

10:30am-11:00am Language
The teacher gave a whole group lesson on writing to prepare the kids in writing their letters.  Kids "write in the air" while the teacher conducts the lesson.  This is followed by individual work.  Again, the kids are grouped according to their abilities so some kids (like Keefe) are writing on paper with a pen/marker, some are writing on special chalkboards that come with drawings and lines, and some are writing on rice.

11:00am-11:50am Phonics
Phonics instruction is differentiated for all kindergarten classes so the kids work with different Phonics teachers according to their Phonics group (determined through assessments carried out at the beginning of the year).  Keefe is in a group where there were only 8 of them (4 boys and 4 girls).  Due to the small size, his group has their Phonics lessons along the corridor instead of the classroom.  Instruction is fast-paced (on the day I observed, the kids have already learnt sounds like /ng/, /nk/).  The first part of the lesson had the kids saying out the sounds speedily while the teacher quickly flashes the different sound cards.  The teacher then reviews letter formation where the kids "write" on their partner's back.  This part brings about lots of giggles from their partners because writing on their backs tickle them!  After the review, the teacher introduces the new sound and corresponding handwriting rhyme.  The kids "write in the air" before proceeding to their desks to write on their Phonics/Writing booklets.  While Jolly Phonics is used in preschool, Read Write Inc Phonics is used in kindergarten. 

The kindergarteners’ first unit of inquiry was “Friends” where they learnt what makes a friend, how to be a friend, learning about each other and working as a team.  This was the "Friends" bulletin board displays done by the kindergarten classes.

Keefe’s class version of “Friends”

Some of Keefe’s work on display

Another kindergarten’s class bulletin board display after reading “Wemberly Worried” and “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?”

Student-led portfolio sharing sessions mark the end of a unit of inquiry.  Here, Keefe is presenting his portfolio to his dad last October 3rd.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Mommy School ~ Oo is for Octopus and Ocean

~Kai is 3.5 years old~

We spent the first part of our autumn break in Dublin, Ireland.  Belle and Keefe are on autumn break till Wednesday.  Kai and I managed to work on letter Oo this afternoon while the other two played on their own.  We read Good Thing You’re Not An Octopus!, followed by our letter crafts – octopus and ocean.

For literacy, Kai traced letter Oo’s and ovals, identified Oo’s individually and in words.  We used stickers to learn about animals that live in the ocean (octopus, jellyfish, nautilus, squid, anglerfish, sea cucumber).

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Peek into 2nd Grade ~ 1st 6 Weeks

The school had an Open House last Monday so I had the opportunity to sit in and observe how learning was conducted in a second grade classroom.  The subjects I observed were German, P.E. and Unit of Inquiry.  Children are assigned to different groups according to their ability for German.  So Belle is with 12 other 2nd graders for her German class and the teacher converses only in Deutsch.  How much Belle took in - I have no idea!  

Here are some photos I took from Open House:

Inside Belle's classroom

Belle's class bulletin board display & a close-up of her work

Some posters inside Belle's classroom

Belle rehearsing her Hobby Shop presentation in front of her peers

Bulletin board display of other second grade classes

Belle during P.E. class (she forgot her indoor P.E. shoes!)

The second graders had their Hobby Shop Exhibition today.  For the past six weeks, they have been learning about their hobbies and learning styles.  The central idea was that the children's hobbies can reflect how they learn best.

The Hobby Shop exhibition is a product of the students’ research and inquiry into their hobby (something that they like to do in their free time).  The process includes identifying what they know, formulating questions and locating key information.  Each child was encouraged to consider their learning style when making their project.  For Belle’s case, she is a visual, linguistic and auditory learner.  She presented “Rainbow Loom” as her hobby and included research facts on the inventor, etc.  She also brought samples of loom bands and charms she had made to present during the exhibition. Here are some photos I took of her and other second graders’ presentation:

Some of the other children's hobbies included ice skating, rock climbing, soccer, skiing, scuba diving, dophin riding, horseback riding.