A Reggio-Inspired Project Looking Closely
Your heart is very important. It pumps blood through all of your body. It also picks up oxygen!
The heart is one of the most important organs in the human body, continuously pumping blood around our body through blood vessels. This is a big idea for our girls to grasp. We feel that it is very important for the girls to understand the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Even though they are young, we want them to learn that with good food habits and daily physical activity you will be well on your way to a healthy life. When we began the study we had these ideas in mind:
My heart is the size of my fist. When I grow bigger it grows bigger too. It keeps beating even when you are sleeping . Sometimes it beats fast and sometimes it beats slow.
-JK conversation during
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After exploring and studying the human heart, the girls were ready to see a real heart. Through a partnership with the upper school lab program, our girls were offered the incredible experience to put on gloves and explore like a real scientist. As they worked closely with a partner and an upper school girl, they were able to point out different parts of the heart and talk about what they saw. Our visit to the lab solidified our new learning while allowing the girls a hands on experience that they will remember always.
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Alongside our study of the human heart we also explored a different kind of heart. We shifted our thoughts to the valentine heart shape and all that it represents. We thought about our different emotions, focusing specifically on the heart as a symbol for love. We learned about our feelings and discovered ways to express our different emotions.
Animals know just what to do when it gets cold outside. I wonder how they know?
Come check out our beautiful mural....
Our learning extended and crossed all curricula during our study. The girls worked collaboratively to create a painted mural that represented the habitat of animals around the world. Using clay, each girl strengthened their fine motor and created a model that symbolized the animal they selected. Using our literacy and writing skills, the girls thought about their animal’s adaptations in cold weather and even wrote a sentence that demonstrated their new learning.
Clay Animal Pieces
January marks the half-way point in our junior kindergarten year. Five months is a long time, especially to a child. Since August we have seen our girls celebrate good news, make new friends, loose teeth, get new haircuts, grow taller, and even celebrate birthdays. In our time together, we have been silly and laughed alongside each other and we have even cried together. When thinking about all that we have been through, one thing stands strong, during the first semester, we have GROWN physically, emotionally, and academically. These small moments in time make such an impact on our girls. They tell a story that is meaningful and will forever shape them. While January is a perfect time for many to make resolutions and set goals, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on how we have each grown individually during the first semester. During our time of reflection we also wanted the girls to focus their thinking towards the new year as they contemplate goals and visions for 2020.
Our return from the holiday break led us on a journey of planning for 2020. We began first by creating a class vision board. A vision board simply stated is any sort of board used to display images of goals you may have. Creating and using vision boards serves several purposes and builds certain skills such as
As the girls created our vision board, they were able to talk with their friends about what they want to accomplish during the last half of junior kindergarten. As we observed them during our project it was really neat to hear the way they supported each other in their goals and visions. Our board will stand as a visual representation of who we are becoming.
You always have to practice to get better at things. I want to be better at coloring this year, so I'm going to practice lots.
Alongside our vision boards, the girls worked on mid-year self portraits. Creating self-portraits are a key part of learning and are an important element in personal development.
Over the last couple weeks, we challenged the girls to look closely at themselves through the strong and powerful art of self-portrait. We asked the girls to sit down at a table with black pens, a piece of blank paper, and a mirror. This exercise welcomed many conversations for the girls and set the stage for them to explore similarities and differences among each other.
We also extended the project to include loose parts in the Art Center. The girls created an additional portrait using materials such as wire, rocks, beads, pom poms, feathers, and so much more. We invited them to reflect, and then describe the ways that they have grown since last August.
We can do the monkey bars now! Yeah! We can go all the way across.
-Parker and Charlotte
The best gift of all is yourself and your family.
With the holidays quickly approaching, our room is buzzing with excitement. From our conversations and many personal connections, and we have noticed one tradition that is celebrated universally around the world. The act of giving and receiving. The idea of giving and receiving gifts is recognized as an act of love. During the holiday season, gifts are one of the most exciting things for a child. We recently took the opportunity to explore why people give and receive gifts so that the girls can build an understanding of the true meaning behind the act.
Our many read aloud stories, videos, questioning and conversation helped provide the perfect platform for the girls to share their thoughts about gift giving. As you continue reading, be sure to read our conversations and responses so that you can see our ideas about this special tradition.
After returning their special ornaments to school, each girl had the opportunity to share their family tradition with the class. The project allowed the girls to take ownership of their own traditions and gain appreciation of others. We used this as an opportunity to practice public speaking on a small scale, and even allowed the girls to ask and answer questions.
At Christmastime every year, we bake a strawberry cake for baby Jesus. On Christmas we sing happy birthday to him.
This November we are learning what it means to be thankful and how to show gratitude for all that we have. Our study has helped us focus on the many blessings both big and little in our lives. We want to remember to acknowledge these special gifts and never take for granted the beauty in our lives.
For the last couple weeks, our girls began documenting what it means to be thankful through a beautiful book. As we looked closely at our lives, we were able to highlight the people and things that we are thankful for. Each day the girls illustrated and painted to celebrate our individual thankfulness.
What is Fall time?
It's when the leaves change colors. They are really bright in the fall time -Andi Rose
It's a time when it starts to get cooler and you have to wear jackets and warmer clothes. -Reid
Fall is when you see pumpkins and leaves that change colors then fall off the trees. -Charlotte
When is Fall time?
Fall comes after Halloween when the leaves start to fall down from the trees. The days get shorter because it gets dark so soon. -Greer
What do you enjoy about Fall?
I like to rake up all of the leaves into a big pile and then jump in. Sometimes my brother plays with me too. -Parker
I love watching the leaves fall down.-Mary
I love Thanksgiving. It's my favorite holiday. We get to eat turkey and see all of our family. -Ruthie
What changes do you notice outside?
I see the leaves changing colors. I like to see them change. -Brooke
I see pine cones everywhere. They used to be on the ground, but now they grow on trees. I see them in the Fall time. They are really spiky. -Lily
In the Fall time, it gets really really cold. Today it even snowed outside.
What colors do you see in Fall?
I see orange, and green, and red...and maybe yellow too.
How does Fall make you feel?
Fall makes me feel happy because I always get to see my family on the holidays. -Gigi
Last week we began a new study focusing on the seasonal changes taking place in our natural environment. The girls are beginning to notice cooler temperatures, and pumpkins around campus. Our walks around campus have been full of conversation about the beautiful colors we see changing before our eyes. On a recent walk outside, we set out looking for signs of the changing seasons. The girls were full of excitement as we searched areas of Hutchison's campus and noticed new things.
Our collection of Fall findings consisted of leaves, acorns, sticks, pine cones, and more. Our room was buzzing with excitement about the changing seasons. Our new study has invited many ideas and the girls are making wonderful connections.
What we were exploring...
As we continued exploring outdoors, we noticed the beauty in the changing seasons. Our collections of artifacts from nature grew and grew. After bringing our collections inside, we thought about how we could share our beautiful findings with others. We continued reading, observing, and learning about all the changes taking place outside and began to wonder...
How can I use art to help me represent the beautiful changes taking place in our environment?
This became our guiding question as we studied the changing seasons and looked closely at the world around us.
Today is the best Fall day ever. Look at the wind blowing the leaves off the trees.
A little paint, texture from nature, creativity, clay and an open-ended invitation allowed our girls to share their wonder of nature with you. We discovered that clay comes from the ground in our earth. This was such a fun concept for the girls as we have been so intentional in our study of things that come from nature. Working with the clay invited many perspectives. The sensory experiences the girls encountered working with clay were numerous. The clay invited the girls to poke, pinch, twist and roll. As they handled it, they developed both fine and major motor skills. Using clay, nature, and our creativity we let art take over. Many of our pieces took the shape of sculptures. Each piece was unique and truly reflected the beauty of nature.
Beginning With Books
To begin, we enjoyed reading a few fun read aloud stories to get the girls thinking about story elements as well as stirring up their imagination and creativity.
Recently our girls have explored describing words. With Halloween quickly approaching, we invited the girls to use their imagination to create a witch face. Next, we used describing words to tell a story about our witches.
During the early childhood years, children begin to make friends and build relationships. We value this time and understand how critical it truly is in the girl's social development. Understanding friendship is important because our girls begin to share experiences, feelings, and interact with others. They are also discovering how to navigate problems and formulate solutions.
We recognize how the girls are starting to play more with others and beginning to form friendships. We see them learning how to take turns, share, and even include others during play. They are learning how to make choices and are developing the ability to be empathetic about the way others may feel. They are learning how to be a good friend. While this all seems so simple, we have to remind ourselves that it is a very gradual process that takes time. It is our job as educators and parents to fully support and grow this social development in our girls both at home and at school.
As the first quarter has come to a close and we enter the second quarter, we are enjoying the friendships in our room. We have laughed, we have cried, we have had agreements, and we have had disagreements. In an effort to support the needs of our girl's social and emotional development, we embarked on a literacy project connecting the learning taking place around our room. We decided to creatively and collaboratively brainstorm and tell a story to always remind us of the true friend we are daily striving to be.
As you continue reading our piece, we hope you can see the adjectives that the girls thought when describing a good friend. We also hope you will recognize the creative literacy process that was at work. While writing and illustrating our story, the following skills were developed:
As a social studies extension, we pulled in maps of Memphis. Research shows that spatial thinking is one of the most important skills that children can develop as they learn about our Earth and environmental science.
Map reading and map making are important skills as they help us learn about the distance of two places. Maps also help us learn to estimate distances between places. Because maps are smaller scale representations, teaching our girls to read a map helps them develop the ability to see different perspectives.
During our study, we explored maps of our community. We noticed roads, interstates, land, water, and different landmarks on the maps of Memphis. Using black pens and colored pencils, the girls had so much fun playing with the maps. The activity invited rich conversation for the girls and allowed them the opportunity to share the things they know.
Is this the airport right here? That's how I am getting to Disney World. This is the way we are driving to drop my car off.
Look, here is Chick-fil-a right by Hutchison. I can see the grass on the map. -Mary
This is the interstate. I'm going to draw a line to Nashville. Now we need to go back to Memphis. Oh! We passed Chick-fil-a. Let's stop here. -Reid
I see Germantown, Tennessee. That's where I live. -Ruthie
Let's take the interstate to New York!
Now I'm going to travel all the way back to Germantown because I want to go home. -Ruthie
I live on Gwynne Road. Is that it? Yes! That's it. -Reid
I see the roads that will take me home!
As our project continued, we tasked the girls with building a community. At the heart of our project was the idea of featuring the girl's favorite places in our community. We wanted this to be their community so that they would take ownership of the places we highlighted in our community. Look closely at our Memphis...it's our favorite!
There are so many houses.
Yeah, It's because it's a neighborhood.
I have a neighbor. She lives next to my house. She's really nice. Sometimes when Reid kicks a ball over the fence, she gives it back.
My neighbor has a pool and a swing set. It even has a playground too!
We need trees in our neighborhood...and roads! Let's connect all of our houses together . I will draw the roads between the houses.
We need a park too! Look at my slide...and my swings. I love going to the park.
My neighborhood has a round circle that we take walks on. Sometimes I take my water bottle and sit next to the tree....and I can climb the tree too.
Benefits of Learning Centers
As we have settled into our daily routines in Junior Kindergarten, the girls learning is in full force all around the room. Our classroom is set up in learning stations, or centers as we call them. In Early Childhood at Hutchison we embrace this style of learning as it allows the girls to maximize their experiences in the classroom.
During center time each day the girls will have choices they make about their learning journey each day. Our JK centers include Science,
Literacy (ABC), Math, Reading, Writing, and Art. These academic areas are always hands-on and independent so that the girls can complete the tasks without much assistance while interacting with their peers.
During center time, your daughter will also receive small group math and literacy instruction as well as project experiences.
At the beginning of each week, the centers will be modeled so that each girl understands her weekly academic responsibilities. During the course of the week, the girls may work at their own pace completing each center and even revisiting for further exploration or enrichment.
I love the Science Center best because I like looking at creepy things!