Thursday, January 29, 2015

An Anouncement

Check out the Destination Nature Facebook page for the official announcement.  Click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Latest Journal Pages

"I love my stuffed animals!"  Wow!  He really sounded out animals!

"Snowy Owls and Great Gray Owls are feeding!"

"I like birds!"

"I like penguins and dump trucks."

"I like football players."

"Last night I watched Jaws."

"I like to play Hungry Shark!  This is Megladon."

"I like to build snow piles with Grant!"

Reading and Writing

Second semester is when we have a big push on reading and writing as well as math.  Here the kids are working at learning centers while I work with a small group.  The children have gotten much better at working together in small group.  

We review the rules each time:
  • everyone needs to work
  • be kind to one another
  • be helpful without telling the answer
  • stay focused
  • help clean up
Putting the numbers in order is not easy for a 5 year old.

They are able to read books now!

Here they are matching pictures to words with "a" chunks like: -an, -at, -ap

Snowman Art

This project focused on using the basic shapes to make things in our environment.  I cut a triangle, square, rectangle and circle out of a potato.  They stamped the potato shape into white paint to create a snow scene.  The next day they used Q-tips to add colorful details.  It makes me feel cold just looking at them!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Freddie Frog's Fantastic Flapjacks

I really enjoy doing fun projects with the kindergartners that incorporate many standards.  In this way children are learning while having fun. 

Today I taught them a bit about cooking and how you have to have the correct ingredients and the correct amount for the recipe to turn out.  I had them follow a recipe and make their own flapjack/pancake in a cup.  They enjoyed flipping their flapjack too. They thought that their flapjack was delicious and that they were a pretty good cook!  I think they really enjoyed it!

First they add ingredients to make the batter in a cup.

It is safer for me to put the batter on the griddle, but 
they get to flip their own flapjack.
I enjoy watching them get their flapjack ready to eat.  
They take it so seriously.
Some kids use a little syrup and some use enough for 
five flapjacks.
Here is the recipe - although I now substitute all-purpose flour.

We discussed many things during this lesson:
  • how to read a recipe
  • cooking "tools" - tablespoon, teaspoon, etc.
  • electricity and how to safely plug in a cord {for the griddle}
  • being safe around hot things
  • following directions was really emphasized
  • some foods come from animals: milk, eggs and honey were used today
  • all about wheat and how it is grown
  • how wheat is changed into flour
  • what other foods are made from flour
  • what steam is - that was rising from the pancake
  • I read the "Little Red Hen" book and we saw how she raised wheat
As you can see...many small lessons and standards can be covered with one project! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Common Core Standards

The Common Core Standards are the skills that your child will be taught during the school year.  Here is a link to the many skills that we will work on in Reading and Math during the year.  You can help by looking them over and reinforcing these skills at home.  

I chose the standards that are written in "kid-friendly" language, so that you can discuss it with your child.  It is amazing all that they learn during their kindergarten school year!  Click on the link below:

Common Core Standards for Kindergarten 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Merlin on the Playground

When I arrived at school on Monday, I noticed a Merlin up in the tree above the playground equipment. A Merlin is a small falcon that is a bit larger than the American Kestrel.  The Merlin is a powerful flier that preys on songbirds and shorebirds.  I have seen the Merlin on the playground during the last two winters, so I was happy to see one was back.  I imagine it is trying to capture the European Starlings that frequent the playground.  If you would like to read more about Merlins, check out the "All About Bird" site by clicking here.

The young birders viewed the bird through the classroom binoculars for a closer look.  Several of them shouted out, "Life bird!"  That means it is the first time that they've seen it in their life.  What was your last life bird?
We sure get a lot of use out of our binoculars!
This bird is a small falcon called a Merlin. I took this photo 
at the local lake in town back in December.  It may 
be the same one.

Sink or Float?

Here are the young scientists at work.
This is a great activity that teaches some of the scientific method.  First, the kids decide if the item will float.  Then they right "yes or no" in the "Guess" column.  That is done in marker, so that they won't change their answer.  

Then we set up "Preheim's Pond" and do the experiment to see if they are correct in their hypothesis.  After each item is tested, they write the correct answer in the second column.  They love this experiment and their is a lot of cheering going on!

The Bird Artist is at it Again!

This is the flying Great Horned Owl that he drew.

That little monkey is happy because he got 
by the Harpy Eagle without getting caught!


This college student is doing her practicum in our room for a week and a half.  We have really enjoyed having her in the room.  I think she got a pretty good idea of what kindergarten is like.  We will miss her as she heads back to college!

Christmas Presents for Our Parents

I had forgotten that I had these photos on my camera.  The students wanted to make a gift for their parents, so we came up with this idea.  They put the tiny beads on the rack and then I ironed them. They were beaming with pride over what they created!  It was so nice to see that!  I thought that they did a nice job!  I am sure that their parents liked this special gift.

Here they are placing the tiny beads on the rack.

Here are the beautiful ornaments!  I also put silver thread on 
for hanging.  The kids also made a nice card with their photo 
inside and then wrapped the two together.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Alessondra's Great Horned Owl

This is one of many nest cams that are online to view.  This Great Horned Owl nest is just outside someone's window in Oklahoma City.  The photo below is last year's young owl, but now there is a new nest.  You can check out the nest cam when you click here.  Your child may enjoy checking in on this site periodically to watch the owlets hatch and grow.  It is quite interesting!

Can you find the young owl?  It is right near where it hatched.
Only the female Great Horned Owl incubates the eggs and keeps the chicks warm. The male hunts for her and the chicks until the chicks are old enough to control their body temperature. Usually he passes the food off to her and then takes off hunting again.  She rips up the prey into small pieces and feeds to the owlets. When the chicks are big enough to keep warm themselves, both parents hunt and the owlets usually can feed themselves.

We have noticed that even though Great Horned Owls are nocturnal, she is awake and tending to the owlets during the day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

We won!

We won the "Win a School Visit" contest through Falcon Guides!  That is the contest where the kids sang the song I wrote titled, "Baby Birds".  We ended up with over 773 views. Thanks goes out to all of the people who took the time to view it!  Here is the link to the Falcon Guides contest entries.  There is a better quality video on my Flickr site, if you want to click here.
I was contacted and asked if I would "accept" being their winner and of course I did.  I will let you know when and where the announcement will be made.  This is pretty exciting!  We will win 25 free books {valued at $1,000} and a school visit from two authors:  Stacy Tornio, the editor of "Birds and Bloom" and Ken Keffer who is a naturalist/author.  They are both birders, so I am anxious to meet them and I'm sure they will enjoy our bird-y school kids!
The Kindergarten Birders

Sunday, January 4, 2015

We Adopted a Bird!

Actually my good friend adopted a bird for the kindergarten class!  Thank you Barb!  This bird is an American Kestrel and it is a small falcon that is being cared for at "The Wildlife Center of Virginia".  You can read more about this wonderful facility when you click here.  This center cares for thousands of animals each year, including about two dozen permanent animal residents, which are now valuable, educational animals that cannot survive in the wild on their own.

Edie, the American Kestrel, was found as an orphan in Roanoke, Virginia, after her tree was damaged in a storm.  She was kept by her rescuers for several days before being taken to a local widlife rehabilitator.  During that time, she seemed to have imprinted on the people caring for her and due to behavioral changes she cannont be released back into the wild.  We will keep tabs on Edie and check in on her now and then.  Adopting an animal as a class, teaches students about animal behavior and teaches them empathy towards wild creatures.

American Kestrels are the smallest North American falcon.  They were commonly called sparrow hawks.  They are 8"-11" in length with a wingspan of 20"-24" and the only weigh 3.5 - 5 ounces.  Their lifespan is 5 years in the wild.  The kestrel's diet consists of small mammals, reptiles, songbirds, insects and other invertebrates.

We have American Kestrels in our area.  I often see them sitting on highline wires or fence posts.  I love to watch them hover over the ditch waiting to swoop down on their prey.  They are very beautiful, little raptors and they are very fast fliers.  People often ask me what my favorite bird is and I can't seem to answer that question because I like so many birds, but the American Kestrel is definitely in my top 10 of favorite birds!

For more on American Kestrels, read about them and hear their call at "All About Birds".  Also, click here to watch this video on You Tube about Jet, the American Kestrel.  It is very interesting and a bit funny too!  

I came across an interesting side note.  Did you know that many raptors are hit by cars?  I found this information on the "Wildlife Center of Virgina" site.  "Roadside litter attracts prey such as small mammals and rodents, which in turn attracts predators like the American Kestrel.  A bird that is hunting is concentrating on catching food, not avoiding the oncoming cars.  You can help by not throwing things out of your vehicle, even biodegradable apple cores or banana peels and teaching others to do the same."  I'd say that is good to know!