This week we are learning all about the Ocean and BOY OH BOY are we having a blast!! I am so glad that we did an in-depth study on the land, air, and water because my students were so ready to dive into learning about the ocean. (hehehe) It was so refreshing to hear them recalling all that they already knew about the ocean and generate lots of great questions that we will dig into later on next week.
To keep my students engaged with only a few (6!!!) days left in the school year, I wanted to make this unit as hands-on and engaging as possible. Also, because many of my students have never been to a beach (poor kids!!) I wanted to really help build their schema by bringing in some real life objects.
Today, my class walked in to an exploration (provocation) table. They were SO excited to explore they could barely contain themselves. (This was what I was hoping for so my plan worked!) To begin our center time, I read my class a few pages from our National Geographic Ocean Book and then let my students explore in our exploratory centers.
My students were eager to sit down and explore the shells. They looked at them closely and worked with diligence and purpose.
They checked out the inside of the shells….
The outside of the shells….
The underside of the shells….
And used our tools (the light from the iPhone) and magnifying glass, to explore the coral.
Then they got to work writing down and drawing all the details they observed.
In small groups, while my students were at centers, I taught a mini-lesson to all of my groups on what an island was. We used our sandpaper globe and our land and water form trays from Montessori Outlet.
This lesson was SO much fun to teach. Using our materials, I taught my students what an island was and then had them locate some islands on our globe. We discussed what made the landform an island and used the picture I printed out for them to generate some ideas about what we knew about islands already. It was so great to hear them pull from their schema and make great connections.
After we located a few islands on the globe, we made our own island using the land and water tray. My students carefully added the water to the tray.
They LOVED using these materials and picked up the new vocabulary quickly. After we completed adding our ocean (the water) to the tray, I had my students skate around the “shore” of the island using their finger. We talked about what the land would feel like if we were walking there. We also used our picture of the island to make an observation that there might be beaches there.
Then we made our own shores or beaches! To do this we used:
-rocks and shells
My students happily added all of the ingredients to a large tupperware container and got to work making the shore.
In my class of 4 and 5 year olds, play definitely still matters in our classroom and this was a great time of exploration, experience, and schema building.
I loved that they “pretended they were at the beach” and were “looking for seashells.”
After they found them, they counted them and sorted them by different attributes. This time of exploring and play had my students using math terms, science vocabulary and helped them problem solve together. It was a HIT!
Also this week we read the picture book, “The Wave” and watched this video:
We then completed one more science activity .
In a glass mason jar, we added blue water and vegetable oil (My ratios were about 1/3 vegetable oil and 2/3 blue water). My students then took turns discovering waves. We discussed what waves were, why they occur and what was happening in our jars.
My students intently observed the jar.
They absolutely LOVED this experiment. To make it even better, I happened to have a bazillion “baby food jars” in my classroom, so I let my students each make their own “mini oceans” to teach their parents about waves. You should have heard them at pick up!!
We are ending the year with a bang! I hope that you are still enjoying your students from this year. I can’t believe that the year has come and gone. In a few short days (weeks) we will be on summer vacation, maybe enjoying the beach and the waves ourselves, and thinking about our new batches of students that will come in through our doors. However, for now, let’s keep going and keep them engaged and learning!! 🙂