Hunter Park Kindergarten

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More Whistles

I found a train whistle at home and the cuts were reversed to how I had done them, so we're trying it around the other way. Question is as Jo asked,"Which is better?" We'll have to experiment to find out. The air drying modeling clay worked to start with but seemed to stop working as the clay dried. More experimentation needed I think.
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Fire Fighter Comes to visit

23 February 2009
Karen Muir from the Fire Department came today to talk to the children about Fire Safety. She looked at our display about the fires in Australia and chatted to the children about what she could see in the pictures.
She began her discussion talking about what are tools and what are toys. She questioned the children about whether matches and lighters were tools or toys. She showed us pictures of real fires and how people had seen smoke, shut their bedroom doors, climbed out of the window and gone to a safe spot whether it be their letterbox, cattle stop, or gateway. She explained to the children how our noses go to sleep at night but our ears are awake. We must call out Fire, fire and we sang our fire song. “Get out, stay out, well done.”
She talked about the metre heater rule, which means
everything should be a metre away from the fire or heater that includes you.
She talked about how lots of wires cause lots of fires and gave examples of how too many wires plugged into one hole causes lots of fires. She explained how it was
important to test your smoke alarm once a month by pushing the button down. She demonstrated how the smoke alarm was a tool and the beeping lets us know when there was smoke in the house. It has to be up high because that is where the smoke goes in a fire. Karen showed the children how a thermal hanging on a clothesline 12 metres from a house on fire had melted and explained how polar fleece would melt too. It had plastic in the material. The metre heater rule applies to pets who like to sleep close to the heater or fire in winter too. Their fur starts to burn like the thermal. She gave examples of how nests in
tractors can also set fire to the tractor and showed then a kettle that had been burnt. It had melted and stuck to an element. She showed them also melted remote.
Most important adults when going to bed should check that everything is off. Last of all she read us a story about what to do in a fire and showed the special uniform fire fighters wear.
One girl helped Karen by trying it on. Every child received a fire safety book and a sticker for being great listeners, asking great questions and also sharing what they new. What a great talk which tied in great with our big interest in the Australian fires. Jo.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Whistle like a bird

One of our children loves to sit up in our tree and she's fascinated by things that fly. This week she decided she wanted to be able to whistle like a bird. Jo found an article, on the web with her, on how to make bamboo whistles and then brought some bamboo in for her to try.

But they found that with out any pictures to help guide them it was a bit hard to figure out exactly what the instructions meant. They asked me if I could help, I've never made a whistle, but I did have a bamboo penny whistle and bamboo pan pipes a while back so I to had a look at the instructions and showed them how to make a pan pipe in the meantime.

This provided a solution and soon lots of children wanted a pan pipe of their own and Jo had to grab them some more bamboo in her lunch break.

Meanwhile I'd managed to figure how to cut the bamboo with a craft knife, using a mix of memory and liberal interpretation, but I still couldn't make it whistle.

Figuring that the problem was with the stopper that fits in the pipe, I whittled and sanded a new one out of some carpentry wood the next day, however still no whistle. So I fitted a nail to let me pull it in and out and it was then found I'd had it too far forward and that that had been the problem the whole time.

I shared my discovery with our whistler and showed her how when it was pushed far in by the straight part of the D there was no whistle, and how when I pulled it back by the curve there was.
She was rapt and after giving it a great try out, put it carefully away in her tree with the collection of pipes she now had.
Blowing it she thought it sounded like a train so she asked Jo for some train music. I helped Jo find some train stories and music for her, and as luck would have it a steam train came through town later in the week!
I had to continue to experiment however as soon more children, not content with pipes, wanted train whistles and hand carving stoppers to size took too much time. I found crayon can make the stopper and is easier to work than wood. We're also going to try some air drying modeling clay when it arrives next week.
I also had to help another girl make a bamboo flute from two sections of bamboo. She's taken it home to drill out the barrier between the two sections, as we couldn't get it out here.
I hope I've rolemodeled
perseverance, persistence and exploration well this week. In this job you're always learning new things.
Meanwhile I've continued researching crickets and found this website
to have some useful information on rearing them. Google "crickets rearing" as there were several more I read if you're interested.
I also got a tip to watch this TED video featuring Juan Enriquez. Well worth a look to see just what the future has instore as he moves from the global financial crisis into bio engineering, robotics, and programmable cells.

I ended up watching about ten more and even learnt a simple way to explain multiple dimensions in time and space, complete with some great visuals of an ant walking around a telegraph wire.
Brian Greene, the universe on a string. This is really cool especially if you have children who like building with lego as Theo Jansen showcases his walking pipe and softdrink bottle animals.

Check out all the TED videos

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Housing our pets

Pukerua Bay Kindergarten asked about our housing, sorry it's taken a while to get back to you but it's been a busy time with many new children to settle and Monica getting ready to take on her new job at Massey. The house on the left we purchased (from one of the furniture catalogues) and later had fitted with a 40w light bulb in the cupboard to provide heat. We house our crickets in here with chicken mash, cat biscuits and cut grass to eat, and to hide in egg cartons. We also have damp sand covered with moss for egg laying. (Possibly we should have dry sand and containers of wet moss which can then be chilled as they have a diapause, normally in winter.) Do watch the crickets I've caught them eating cockroaches and once one got into my locust house and nearly ate them all. To many at once will even kill frogs! To catch some find were they are singing and lift up debris or pour water in the cracks in February.

The one on the right is for our locusts. I made it from an old set of drawers and features a bottom light 40w which heats via two holes covered in wire fly screen the box above, which has a sandwhich of 1 inch thick polystyrene insulation and with the addition of the 14 hour day (on), 10 hour night (off) energy saver bulb (on a timer). It can reach 40 degrees celcius. A glass company fitted a sliding perspex door (draft excluder attached either side to prevent escapes) and an inner perspex wall with round porthole which pivots shut to lock beneath an s shaped piece of metal suggested by our local mitre 10.
Polystyrene cups hold water and cut blade grass as well as wet vermiculite (saturated but with no liquid) for eggs. We sourced the vermiculite from the local garden centre. Regular collection of the cups allows you to incubate them and watch the baby locusts when they hatch.

On top of the right hand house can be seen my new terrarium (a reptile one product RT-470, see with a heatmat underneath and light tube above found in a large nearby pet shop that stocked lizards.)
The temperature isn't as high as I'd like (20-26 degrees c) so it may need a layer of insulation around it. Maybe a box, maybe a quilt. We're looking to get something similar or bigger for the kindergarten, price around $350 with mat and light, out of our science budget.Here is one of our frog houses. Ideally an outdoor one would be best but we're making do indoors. The top half has a floor with a planter tray suspended in it which we have planted and which gets watered by the tank below via the holes in the bottom. Frogs enter the water via a hole and a ramp at one end. Doors at either end allow food to be put in and u.v. lights above help young frogs get their vitamin D for strong bones. (You can feed them vitamin D powder by sprinkling it on their food.) Turtle pumps designed for low water levels (but as here also useful for fuller tanks) clean the water.

We've built up as I've read you need about a foot of water for frogs to breed.
(This happens after about 3-5 years of age.) We have it strapped down, with a surround at the base, in case of earthquakes. If it looks a little green that's because we also use it for growing the baby snails our big snails have laid. (Not to mention our baby cellar slugs in the room above.)

Here's a moth trap we hang on our back light. It consists of a bit of reflector from a car window sunshade (a cheap one), a funnel and some white bait net from the fabric shop. Paper in the bottom for the moths to sit in, and we can tie and untie the bottom to get them out. (Popping them in the fridge first helps if you have trouble catching them.) We also catch a lot of beetles this way, watch they don't get stuck in gaps in your stitching around the top of the funnel (We drilled holes in it to sew it on). We have this because we like to give our frogs variety (moths, beetles, flies, white butterflies, crickets, locusts etc.)
I hope that answers some of the questions and inspires some ideas.

Thoughts on who learning stories are for.

As a team our association was recently challenged, on a teacher only day, to think about the learning stories we write, who they are for, what they are for and how we write them. We were also challenged to think about how “subject” knowledge, dispositions and skills are provided for and assessed in our kindergartens.

It was a thought provoking dialogue and one that continues to evolve in our minds.

For me I found I’ve held the belief that we’re writing learning stories:
-For the child (as formative assessment to help them revisit and extend their learning reflected in the story.)
-For their parents and family (as a tool to communicate what we’re seeing and invite feedback to help develop a better picture of the child and their learning.)
-For the Kindergarten staff (to help us plan for children and to help us share insights on children with each other.)

Add to that the conclusion I reached after working with schools last year that we’re also writing them for the child’s future teachers at the early childhood and primary level (and even onwards to tertiary if you think about it) and this makes you think.

It’s interesting exercise for example, when a child transfers to your centre and shares their profile, to see what can be gleaned and how easy that information can be accessed. Even more interesting is to challenge yourself to think how you can make the profile you prepare a useful and valuable document for the future teachers of children your write for.
Talking to one child who shared a profile with me recently I found they were able to identify eight friends in the photo’s present (often not the featured child in the photo whom sometimes they didn’t even recall). From my reading of the profile however, on my own, I’d only identified one of the friends pointed out by the child in the narrative, though I had been able to gain some insight into their dispositions, strengths and interests. From this I found both that learning stories are more valuable when read alongside the child, but also had to ask are we putting all the information into them that we could be and how accessable is it.) end of aside.

Adding to my thoughts about who learning stories are for, one reading from the day; “The stories we share:Using narrative assessment to build communities of literacy participants in early childhood centres” Australian journal of Early Childhood 2006, vol. 31 no.1, pp.27-34, Ann Hatherly; lead me to think about “The merit of the stories as literacy artifacts.”

I asked myself, if we are writing for the child, providing a holistic, print rich environment for them, what would be the effect if we add to our stories brief sentences attached to the pictures in large print, preferably in the child’s words? How will that add to their developing literacy skills?

I have often heard it said, how readable is the story as a narrative for the child, can they have it read to them at bedtime?

I've decided I'll look for chances to give it a try and so my thoughts on learning stories keep evolving.

Just some thoughts for now, (any feedback welcome), in the meanwhile I’ll keep thinking.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Curious piece of sand

We collected grains of silica from our sandpit and safefall last year after one of the children wanted to know how glass is made.

We used the microscope to look at them to see if there was anything interesting. There was, one grain moved by itself. We zoomed in on it as best we could but we never did figure out why it was moving when those around it weren't. Since we've been uploading video I thought I'd pop it up to see if any one knew why.