Throughout the school year, we shall be visiting the park opposite school to observe the changing seasons. As part of our Japanese Culture program, we will be celebrating the coming of Autumn (Aki). Colorful leaves (koyo) are to the Japanese autumn what cherry blossoms are to spring. Throughout the month of October, we shall be visiting the park frequently to look for signs of Aki. Today we gave the children special sketch-books and pencils and headed off the the park to see what we could find.
Today we had a busy day out, full of nature-watching and adventuring. We started by digging sweet potatoes at a near-by potato field. This is a popular Kindergarten experience in Japanese schools at this time of year, and helps children to understand where food comes from and the cycle of the seasons.
We had a picnic lunch in the park and then spent a long time clambering in a section of hilly woodland in the park. This was a wonderful opportunity for the children to work their muscles and develop their gross motor skills. As the children worked together to help each other climb up and down a very steep slope, they were engaged in problem solving, risk-taking and collaborating as well as supporting and encouraging each other. They spent over an hour developing strategies to help them negotiate the slope.
On the way home we stopped to sketch some of the changes we observed in the park this week. We were not the only ones sketching! There were some delightful exchanges between the Kindergarten children and the more experienced adults, out with their sketch-books and water colours.
The children love to take turns at reading stories to the rest of the class. This is a wonderful opportunity to develop a sense of audience and to practice skills such as pause, voice pace and inflection. Recently, Olivia read a book that she had particularly enjoyed. We videoed the story session and showed the video to the children. I was keen to try out a new reflection tool that I had learned from Mr Geddes which involved speeding up a video clip. I tested this new technique on the clip of Olivia’s story time The children loved the speeded-up version and asked for both videos to be posted on the blog.
Over the last month, teachers and class parents have been exploring ways of involving parents in their children’s learning. We have been delighted to work with parents in many different ways over the last week.
Sharing children’s learning
Many parents were able to come and spend time in the class-room so the children could show their parents what they have learned. We will continue this sharing session on the last Friday of every month.
Sharing planning ideas
It was wonderful to be able to meet with parents to share our planning ideas for our current unit, and to get parents’ input and ideas. We will continue to hold these sessions throughout the year.
Mother Tongue reading
We had our first Mother Tongue reading session this week. Hal’s mom, Trenton’s mom and Rika’s mom came to school to read to the children in Japanese.
We had our first Dads’ Sharing this morning. Thanks very much to Leander’s dad who came to tell the children about his work.
We look forward to continued collaboration with parents throughout the year.
Stories can be a powerful way of helping children to understand the world around them. I asked our librarian, Mrs Kar, if she could recommend some picture books that I could use to help the children explore the concept of learning journeys. She found several books, and I chose “Clem Always Could” by Sarah Watt.
The story is about a boy called Clem who thinks he could always do the things he can do now. When, one day, he has to learn something new, he is worried about what will happen. I read the book several times, so the children were familiar with the story and had time to think about it. Then we talked about the story and thought about the big idea that the author wanted to communicate.
I asked the children to think about a time in their own lives when they had to learn something new, and to show their thoughts on paper. Recently we have been talking about the techniques that illustrators use to help their readers get a clear picture. I reminded the children of some of these techniques and the children got to work. Once the illustrations were finished, we photographed them and put them in a VoiceThread. Over the next week, the children will add voice comments to their photographs. The children have made several VoiceThreads before and are beginning to understand how VoiceThread can be used as a tool for sharing and collaborating with a wider audience.
It would be wonderful if others could add their comments to the photographs, particularly family members or friends who might remember the events described in the illustrations. It is the possibilities for involving others through voice comments that makes VoiceThread such a powerful tool.
Today we had our first monthly Parent Sharing session. As part of our Unit of Inquiry into Where We Are In Place and Time, we decided to trial a new initiative to strengthen links between home and school, and to involve parents in their children’s learning. We invited parents in to class so that the children could share their learning over the last six weeks. We videoed the session and speeded up the video clip so that we have a one minute video clip that children and parents can reflect and comment on. We hope that this will help spark discussion at home and at school about the children’s personal learning journeys.