Monday, November 14, 2011

Kinder class pet

Last week, we welcomed our new class pet into our kindergarten classroom -- a baby leopard gecko. I can't decide who is more excited... me or the kids! They are fascinated with the little guy, as they have never had or even seen a lizard. I am thrilled with the possibilities he brings into our classroom. My students will learn so much from him -- science, responsibility, as well as care and respect for living things.

Of course, we brainstormed a name for him. After suggestions ranging from our own names to "Star Wars" (they are kinders after all...), we decided on Echo. We measured him on Thursday and documented our findings. He is currently 11 cm and we will continue to measure him and watch his growth to full-size (10-12 inches).

One of the best parts about having a lizard is that they are low-maintenance and it is SO FUN to watch them eat. Echo eats live mealworms and crickets, so he "hunts" them in his cage. He is even "hand-feeding" from a pair of chopsticks - which the kids LOVE.

My favorite part of having a class pet so far is the authentic and meaningful learning that has taken place. There is something empowering about arming a child with a supply of strong vocabulary words - and giving him/her the opportunity to use them in context. Right now, if you ask any of my kinders about our new class pet, their explanation would be littered with words like nocturnal, cold-blooded, reptile, and habitat. Oh, and they know exactly what they mean! I've never seen my class gain strong vocabulary and complex concepts as quickly and excitedly as they have with Echo.

Any educational philosopher would tell you this comes from the contextualized and naturalistic stage for learning our class pet is providing. And I know this is true. But, a small part of me has to believe it's because he is so cool. :) Stay tuned to watch our little guy grow-up.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Joy is meant to be shared

Whenever something exciting happens in my life, my instinct is always the same - to pick up the phone and call my family. When happiness occurs, I feel an immediacy to share my joy with the ones I love. I always attributed this urge to the close relationships I have with my family. But, this week, I learned that this instinct to share my joy with others may be just that... instinct.

On Thursday, our school had "Enrichment Day." All the students in our school travelled around the building to hear from special visitors. My kinders learned about sea creatures with a visitor from the zoo, experienced percussion instruments and the violin from musicians, and learned about the writing process from a famous children's author and illustrator. It was a great day - full of excitement and new experiences.

Something "hit me" that day. My students' favorite presentation of the day was from the percussionist -- who showed and played everything from the cow bell to symbols to a variety of drums. There was something very thrilling to the kids about VERY LOUD sounds in school... and it was completely acceptable! 

Every time something exciting happened, or every time something made my students smile, they immediately turned around to look at me. A big drum sound would surprise them and make them shriek with joy -- and they would search the room for my eyes and smile right at me. It was a very interesting phenomenon to me. They had an innate, human instinct to share their joy with someone.

I never told my students to look at me - I never told my kids to tell me when something exciting happened.   They sensed an urgency to share their joy and happiness with another person - even if it was just through a look and a smile.

It's amazing how much five-year-olds teach me about people and about life.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First snow

I think I have found a day that rivals the innocence and beauty of the first day of kindergarten -- the first snow.

 Most years, the first snow happens over the weekend. Or it happens in the evening and we cancel school the next day. But yesterday, the snow came in HUGE flakes over the lunch hour.

It was beautiful. Even I was mesmerized. The snow, of course, did not stick, but it was so calming and beautiful to watch. 

During rest time, I opened all the blinds in our room for the kids to see. Everyone of my students rested their head on their hands, and with eyes as big as dinner plates, watched in true awe.

Even more beautiful than the snow was the look on their faces.