Holiday Fun

Before Christmas break, we spent some time learning about holiday customs around the world. Here are some of the highlights.

St. Lucia Day in Sweden.

Christmas in England.

Mexico.

Australia.

Germany.

Hanukkah.

France

Russia.

Polar Express Day

Polar Express Day is always a great day! We came to school in pajamas and spent the day enjoying some fun – centered around the wonderful book and movie. The students followed train tracks to get to the classroom and walked in to see their desks turned into a train and another part of the room turned into the North Pole.

We played a Santa’s reindeer popcorn word game and had hot chocolate themed math activities.

The kindergartners hopped on the classroom train and began watching the movie. They enjoyed a snack of gingerbread cookies, popcorn, and hot chocolate with marshmallows and peppermint sticks.

When the Polar Express arrived at the North Pole, we did as well. The kindergartners took turns watching the rest of the movie in the snow at the North Pole.

We had a great day making memories!

Native Americans, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving and Turkeys

We learned about some of the Native American Culture Regions within the United States. We talked about the Plains region and discovered that the tribes typically lived in teepees. Because they followed bison herds, this group had to be able to move their homes. Bison was a source of food, shelter, clothing, tools, etc. There was no waste. The kindergartners made teepees to remember how this culture group lived.

We also talked about the Southwest Culture Region and learned that they did not move around like the Plains groups. The Southwest people often lived in pueblo homes – dwellings made from mud and straw bricks. Many of the Southwest region were farmers and also had goats and sheep. The Navajo wove beautiful rugs and blankets out of the wool. The kindergartners wove bookmarks and painted pueblo houses.

The Southeast Culture Region includes South Carolina. We learned about a festival that they have – Green Corn Festival. It is a time of cleaning out and starting fresh. Home fires are put out and then restarted from the hot coals of the community fire that the tribe elders start. The kindergartners “reenacted” this event using grapes, pretzels, and red, yellow and orange m&ms.

The final culture region we learned about was the Eastern Woodlands. This region includes the Wampanoags, who helped the pilgrims. Part of the year they lived in homes called wetus. They were domed shaped structures covered in birchbark sheets. The kindergartners made wetus by glueing pieces of construction paper on a domed frame.

Learning about the Wampanoags was a natural lead-in to learning about the pilgrims. We talked about their perilous journey over on the Mayflower, their first difficult winter, and what life was like for them. We gathered information about the Mayflower journey from books and videos, then talked about some of the interesting things we learned. The kindergartners made a Mayflower shaped book that included three facts about the journey from England to Plymouth.

To help the kindergartners understand that the Pilgrims had to make nearly everything they had, we churned some butter and tried to make homemade bread. The oven was not very cooperative this year, so the bread was not what it should have been. The students did enjoy making it though.

We read some books about Thanksgiving including, A Turkey for Thanksgiving. The kindergartners made turkey place cards for their Thanksgiving tables.

We also read the book, Turkey Trouble. It’s a story about a turkey who tries to disguise himself as other animals in order to make it through Thanksgiving alive. The kindergartners disguised their own turkeys.

We also learned some interesting things about turkeys and made a non-fiction book about them.

Exploring South and North America

The posting order has been a little mixed up lately, but I didn’t want to leave out the last two continents that we explored – South America and North America.

In South America, we learned about the world’s largest tropical rainforest – the Amazon. We talked about the four layers and some of the animals found there.

We watched a Magic School Bus video about a cocoa tree in the rainforest. The kindergartners got a chance to taste cocoa powder. The excitement was short-lived as soon as the powder touched their tongues. To make the experience better, I made brownies from the cocoa powder the night before and had them ready for the kids later that day. It is amazing how much better it tastes when you add a little sweetness.

We talked about an ancient Incan city in Peru. Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 high in the Andes Mountains. It has become a famous South American landmark and many tourists visit each year. The kindergartners completed a paint by number picture of the ruins.

North America was the last continent in our tour. We learned about bison, which is largest mammal in North America. Bulls can weigh as much as 2,000 pounds and be six feet tall at the shoulder. These herbivores live in mixed-grass prairies.

We learned about the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. This spectacular display of lights happens when energy particles from the sun collide with Earth’s magnetic field. The kindergartners watched a video of the lights and used chalk pastels to recreate the beauty.

We talked about one of Canada’s most popular artists – Ted Harrison. He has a distinctive style of painting that is very colorful. The kindergartners made a version of his art work and added an Inukshuk to the picture. An Inukshuk is a figure made of piled stones. Traditionally, Inuksuit (plural) were constructed by the Inuit people throughout the landscape to be used as a hunting and navigational aids.

We learned about a famous landmark in the United States – the Statue of Liberty. The figure stands on Liberty Island in New York Harbor and is 151 feet and one inch tall. She has stood as a beacon for freedom and welcomed millions of immigrants to the United States.

We had such a great time learning about our world and working on a lot of fun projects in class. The kindergartners took home suitcases full of “goodies.”

Election Day – Kindergarten Style

Since yesterday was Election Day, we spent some time learning a little bit about voting. We read a couple of children’s books – My Teacher for President and Duck for President.

After reading about Duck, the kindergartners thought about who would be a good candidate to run the farm – Farmer Brown or Duck. Each student made a campaign poster for his or her candidate and presented it to the class.

We pretended our classroom was a polling place. The kindergartners made voter registration cards and presented them to the “poll worker.” The poll worker checked them off the list of registered voters and had them sign in. The kindergartners were given a ballot and cast their vote in our “voting booth.” It was a great experience, and ended with Duck as the winner!

Pumpkin Day

Because of the lack of field trip options this year, we turned our usual pumpkin patch trip into a day of fun at school.

The kindergartners brought carved pumpkins in to school for a contest. The pumpkins were a hit and the everyone had fun voting for their favorite.

First Place Winner!
Second Place!

The kindergartners had a pumpkin glyph project. They answered three questions and then made a pumpkin based on the answers. The questions were: Do you like pumpkin pie? (I gave them each a small bite, so they could accurately answer.) Have you ever carved a pumpkin? Which was your favorite book – Pumpkin Jack, or Too Many Pumpkins ?

The kindergartners planted “special” pumpkin seeds and used their imaginations to think about the seeds turning into a pumpkin patch. Those special seeds did the job!

The kindergartners played some pumpkin themed games – boys against the girls! Overall, the boys won.

Lunch is always more fun outside. The kindergartners had a great time picnicking on the playground!

The afternoon was filled with pumpkin crafts and snacks!