Sunday, 24 November 2013

A Classroom Pet Provocation

We set up a provocation (invitation for learning), containing soil, fish bowl pebbles, shells, and an empty glass bowl.  We displayed a book about different habitats for a variety of creatures, with the hope that students would explore the sensory items and engage their thinking about what they would like as a classroom pet.  They used the post it notes available to record what they saw, thought, and wondered.

Slowly the provocation evolved and the students started to stick their post it notes on the wall to display their ideas for their classmates to see.  Their interest grew, and collectively we decided to write a title on the wall, “What should we get?”, so everyone knew we were starting to explore what to have as a class pet.

Once we had a reasonable number of post it notes on the wall, we decided to tally all the responses.  After we completed our tally of all of the different suggestions, we noticed that worms received the most votes! This seemed like a great idea, but after some discussing, the students recognized that since the ground was frozen and it was getting colder, it would be difficult to dig worms out of the ground.  We decided that the same thing could be said for our second place choice of snails, which tied with hermit crabs.  When our discussion turned to the hermit crabs, at first the students didn’t think we could get any either because some said they lived on the beach. 

 “I saw them at the pet store!” M.P.

After that revelation, the students decided they wanted to try and get hermit crabs as our class pets.  After this decision, the students started discussing things they immediately wondered about hermit crabs.  They were also invited to write down these wonder questions which would help us investigate them further. 

The following day, we brought the hermit crabs to class.  Once the students saw them, they started listing things they would need in their terrarium to give them a happy home.  Reading a book about hermit crabs helped us compile a list of things they needed to have in their terrarium.

Once the terrarium was finished and the hermit crabs were placed in their new home, the students were well on our way observing them!  A.M. decided they needed to have names and started to survey her peers in order to name the three little creatures!  Shelley, Crusty, and Crabby were the names selected. 

Stay tuned for new updates as we venture on our investigation journey into hermit crabs!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Our Flower Paintings Are On Display!!!

I am delighted to tell you that the artwork sent for the Early Years Exhibition has been installed at 5050 Yonge Street. It's a real pleasure to celebrate the exciting work that has been created by our students!

Sincere thanks to our Exhibition facilitator, Robert Murphy for this attractive installation.  As well as Vanessa Barnett, for having selected our flower paintings and documentation.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Our Pumpkin Investigation

The students were overwhelmed with excitement when they noticed the pumpkins that awaited them at the discovery centre, as they entered their classroom.  They rushed over and felt them, held them, and started discussing the differences in size, shape, and colour that they noticed the pumpkins being. 

“Pumpkins have tiny grey seeds.” R.H.

“The little one doesn’t have lines and bumps.”  M.P.

“This one is dark orange, the tallest is bright orange and the little one is the same colour as the tallest one.”  A.M.

“The seeds make the pumpkin grow.  Maybe the little ones doesn’t have any, that’s why it’s so small.” G.M.

“Pumpkins grow in a pumpkin patch.  The seeds are yellow.”  A.P.

“I don’t think it has any seeds because it’s too small.”  N.S.

“I think the biggest one has seeds cause it grows so big and I think it has green seeds.”  H.S.

“I think the little one has seeds because it has to grow.”  K.W.

“It’s bumpy and bigger than the other one.  No one can lift it cause it’s huge!”  K.E.

“I think the small one has seeds but they’re really small.”  D.S.

Placed on the table were multiple rulers, tape measures, magnifying glasses, and documentation material.  It didn’t take long for the students to utilize the material and start measuring the height of each pumpkin, and using the tape measure to explore how big around (circumference) each pumpkin was, as well at measuring the pumpkin from the stem to the indent underneath.  They wrote and drew what they saw, thought about and wondered about the pumpkins.

“Let’s get a ruler and measure the height of the pumpkin but not including the stem.”  C.M.

The students then asked how the pumpkins got to class?  Ms. Powell explained that she had brought them in her car and that she placed them in the back where they all rolled around every time she made a turn as she drove to school.  This story ignited a great idea by the students.  They decided to have a pumpkin rolling race to determine which pumpkin would roll the farthest! 

Before starting the pumpkin rolling race, we decided to make some predictions using a survey to determine which pumpkin we thought would go the farthest.
“The small one is not going to roll fast because it’s little.”  W.E.

“The baby pumpkin is the lightest, so I think it will roll the farthest.”  A.M.

“The biggest is the heaviest and I think it will roll the farthest.”  G.M.

“Maybe the little one won’t roll because it doesn’t have so much stem.”  K.W.

“I think that the big one is too heavy to roll because it has too many seeds in it.”  G.B.

“I think the medium one will roll the farthest because it doesn’t have any bumps on it.”  M.P.

“The little one will roll the farthest because these two are very heavy and the little one is light.”  A.P.

“I think the little one will be the fastest because the big one is too heavy.”  H.S.

“The little one will roll the farthest because it’s so little.”  C.M.

“The big one will win because we will roll is on its side.  The medium one has a flat part on one side.”  E.S.

The students then grabbed number cards, which they lined them from 1 to 15 in the school hallway.  Then we brought out the small, medium, and large pumpkins, and lined them side by side at the start line.  

The students repeated the experiment six times, which gave us an accurate result of which pumpkin rolled the fastest.  Why did the small one roll the farthest?

“They have so much guts and seeds so they didn’t go as far or fast as the little pumpkin.”  A.P.

“The small one is more round.”  N.S.

“The other two sent sideways and one of them is flat on one side.”  G.M.

“The little pumpkin went the farthest because it was more round.”  K.W.

“I think the little one rolled the farthest because the seeds made it go fast.”  G.B.

“The little one went farthest because it has more seeds and they are strong.”  W.E.

“The seeds are making it roll far.”  E.E.

“Maybe the big one has seeds, and the medium has a little bit of seeds and the small one has one seed.”  C.D.

“The little pumpkin has the most seeds and it rolled the farthest, than the medium and big one.”  K.W.

“I think the little one has less seeds because it’s younger.”  E.S.

“The little pumpkin is faster than the other ones because it doesn’t weigh as much.  It has less seeds and makes it lighter.”  D.S.

In order to make sure we all remembered what our group’s outcome was, we created a graph titled “Which pumpkin rolled the farthest?”  We noticed that only one group had the large pumpkin win, while all the other groups noticed that the small pumpkin rolled the farthest.

We’ve been creating a variety of graphs over the past month, but this graph really connected the students to their data.  The interest grew and in no time, the students independently started making their own graphs and surveying their classmates!

A few days later, once the students had enough time to explore, and document their observations of the outside of the pumpkin, we gathered in a Knowledge Building Circle (KBC), to share any new knowledge or observations we noticed with each other.  We also decided to cut open the white and orange little pumpkins and take a peek inside.

“The white pumpkin will have more seeds because it’s bigger and has more space for the seeds.”  A.M.

“I think the white one will have more seeds because it’s bigger.”  K.W.

“If we cut it, we can look to see if which one has more seeds.”  D.C.

“Maybe the white has more seeds because it’s a lot bigger and it’s bumpy.”  G.M.

“The white will have more seeds because it’s a different colour than the others.”  N.S.

The day before Halloween, we decided to carve our pumpkin so it would be ready for our reading by candlelight Halloween activity.  All the pumpkins were displayed and the students pondered over which one should be cut.  In the end, they wanted to carve the biggest pumpkin.  But we wanted to know what the biggest meant?  Did we want the tallest, the widest or the heaviest?  The students decided they wanted to carve the heaviest pumpkin.  But we needed to figure out how we were going to determine which pumpkin was the heaviest? A few students mentioned we could hold one pumpkin in one hand and the other one in the other hand and see which one felt the heaviest.  But they were too heavy to lift.  Another student mentioned that we could use a type of machine where we would put one pumpkin on one end and the other on the other end and the one that went down was the heaviest!  It was a great idea, but we didn’t have anything strong enough that would hold our pumpkins.  So I asked the students what people use to find out how much they weighed?  They all yelled out a scale!  It so happened that Ms. Powell had one and got it out for us to place each of our pumpkins on to figure out which one weighed the most.  One by one we placed the pumpkins on the scale and recorded their weights.  Our winner weighed in at a whopping 26 pounds! 

We quickly did a survey to determine the type of face we wanted our pumpkin to have, then we got carving.  We removed the top of the pumpkin and started taking out the pulp and seeds.  We loved the gooey, slimy, cold feeling.  We also noticed that the large pumpkin had a lot of seeds and they were much bigger than our white pumpkin’s seeds.  A few of the students decided to sort the pulp and seeds into different containers so we can see them better.  Once all the pulp and seeds were out of the pumpkin, we were shocked to see how hollow our pumpkin was inside!

A few days passed and the students started to notice changes happening to our pumpkins!

“When you squeeze the pulp, the water comes out.”  N.S.

“I see some slimy things in the pulp of the white pumpkin beside the seeds.”  G.B.

“The seeds have water in them, that’s why our pulp has water in it.”  G.M.

“Maybe over night the pulp got more water.”  C.D.

“The pulp had orange liquidy watery stuff”  D.S.

“I think that when we but it open, it got hot and humid overnight and the pulp turned into water.”  A.M.

“The water got out of the pulp.”  E.E.

“The pulp made the water change colour.”  K.W.

“The farmer pours water on the pumpkin and it goes into the pumpkin and goes to the pulp.”  M.P.

“I think overnight it got hot and the water in the pulp came out.”  D.S.

“The inside of our pumpkin is changing colour and getting brown.”  N.S.

After a week, there was more to observe and investigate and wonder!

“The pumpkin didn’t get enough water and it got dirty.”  W.E.

“There’s no water in it cause it’s black now and the water is gone.  I think a bug took the water.”  E.E.

“I think it got too cold and the pumpkin started to get rotten.  It’s starting to get old and messy.”  G.B.

“The eyes don’t have a hole anymore.  They have spider webs on the nose and on the mouth and inside.”  K.E.

“I think it’s getting yucky and moldy.  Black spider webs grew because it’s too hot.”  B.S.

“I think that when we left the classroom, it got too hot and I think it got all mushy.”  C.M.

“I think the pulp was full of water but when the water got out it started to look like spider webs but it’s the pulp.”  A.P.

“Maybe at night time it got too hot?”  G.M.

“Maybe overnight it got rotten?”  C.D.

“Maybe when we left, it got hot and spider webs grew in the pumpkin.”  N.S.

“The temperature of the pumpkin got too hot and made it get dirty.”  K.W.

“What do you think will happen to the pumpkins over time?”  Mrs. Ralph

“Maybe the white pumpkin will get a funny smell?”  K.W.

“I think if we leave the pumpkins on the table, the orange one will change colour on the outside.”  G.B.

“I think over time both pumpkins will go black.”  E.E.

“I think over time, like in the winter, both might smell bad.”  E.S.

“I think over time they will start to rot.”  D.S.

“Over time the pumpkin seeds will get kinda black and I think the pulp will get black too.”  A.P.

“I think the pumpkins will go bad and smell bad.”  A.T.

“I think that the two pumpkins are going to smell and we need to put them in the garbage!”  O.S.

“I think that we can compost them when they start to smell!  So we can have more soil for Maurice Cody!”  B.S.

“What is a composter?”  Mrs. Ralph

“We put the pumpkins in a big container with worms and bugs.  They are going to eat our pumpkins and make soil?  B.S.

“Wow!  That is fantastic!  I wonder how that happens?”  Mrs. Ralph

“I’ve also been listening to your responses about what is happening to our pumpkins over time.  Many of you are saying that the changes we notice have something to do with temperature, how hot or cold our room is?  I wonder how we can find out?”  Mrs. Ralph