Monthly Archives: January 2015

The courtyard project continues


Our courtyard project has continued throughout January with a look at measuring the courtyard, since kindergarten has been absorbed with measurement during this month.  In kindergarten we have been largely involved with using nonstandard units of measurements as we forgo yardsticks and other measuring devices, and use instead our feet, our hands, our fingers….We spread our measurement over a couple weeks, and first used nonstandard measurements.  The children selected a part of their body that they would use to measure the perimeter of the courtyard.  Kindergarteners learned the word perimeter, and step by step discovered how many of their footsteps would circle the courtyard.  Wonder of wonders, when compared with their eighth grade buddies, the numbers didn’t match up.   What was happening?


The next week we brought in a variety of standard measuring devices, such as a meter stick, measuring tapes, rulers….The children set to work again, and the middle schoolers found this more challenging as they tried to make their measurements more accurate, which isn’t always easy when your helper is a five or six year old!  The children were able to see that common ground was met when they used standard units of measurement (and that you need to take care as you make those measurements).


As we looked at the questions the children (both kindergarteners as well as eighth graders) posed for exploration in our study of the courtyard, one was a look at the plants that grow in the courtyard.  We thought of ways they could experience/investigate these plants in a way that would fully involve both kindergarteners as well as their more mature friends.


We decided that it would be a duel process, in which the children would work together in making detailed drawings of a plant of their choice in the courtyard.  The eighth graders will add another step to the process by using their skills in research to find both the scientific name of the plant of their choice as well as the common name.  Today they worked together to select and draw their plant, and during the course of the week the older children will find the name(s) of their plant and will label their drawing in the hallway.DSC_0029



It is such a joy to see the delight on the faces of the kindergarten children when they realize they will have a chance to spend some quality time with their beloved science buddies.  Their lives are richer for having this time to spend with an eighth grade friend, and they are learning so much from the experience of working together on a common project.


The Noticing Table

Long time since a post, but here are some thoughts.

One of the pieces that I have added to my choice time routine is one table that is designated as our Noticing Table.  This happens to be the low table (one that has the legs removed so that children sit on the floor), and it is a constant, dependable presence in our choice time.


Every day something new is at the Noticing Table.  This child is examining some beeswax, and is discovering that each of the cells is a hexagon.  The children examine the material presented, draw it, and label their picture for the Noticing Wall.


These two pictures show the details that children are beginning to notice as they observe the items on the table. This dragon fruit engaged Amani, and her illustration is a clearly dDSC_0128etailed picture of the actual fruit.




In the past week that we’ve been back from Christmas, the children have observed and drawn the dragon fruit, coral, a camellia blossom,  and a sprig of pine with a pine cone attached.  Earlier in the year one of my parents tended to send in items that were perfect for the Noticing Table, such as an acorn squash from her garden or a seed pod from a special plant.  There are mornings that I am scrambling to think of something to add to the Noticing Table, but the world is so full of wonderous things that I could never run out of things to notice.


I love this activity, for it brings everyday items into the attention of the children, and they take the time to pause at this center to notice objects that might escape their observation in the business of their days.  They love the grown-up trust in using permanent markers for this work, even though there is a measure of clean-up that they aren’t able to take care of.  They really look, and look carefully as they think about how they are going to be able to represent this item in their art work.  The Noticing Wall is loaded with pictures the children have drawn of the items on the table. Dragon fruit, pine cones, honeycombs, and money plant are all represented on the wall..