Saturday, April 18, 2015

Learning About Pollinators

The Orca class learned about pollinators, especially bees. Did you know that for every five bites of food you eat, three of them are there because of bees? It was interesting that on this same day there was an accident on one of our highways where 14,000,000 bees were spilled out of a tipped over semi truck.
To learn about how bees pollinate we played a little game. The children all pretended to be bees. They had a little straw for their proboscis, an insect's mouth part. The Teaching Parents were the flowers. They had a cup of apple juice to pretend that it was the flower nectar for the bees to eat.

The bees flew to the flowers, drank the nectar, and then a piece of pollen (a colored pom pom) was stuck onto their leg (arm). Then they flew to the other flower, drank the nectar, and left that pollen on that flower.

We had some Orchard Mason bees in cocoons. These have been in the refrigerator until it was time for us to put them in their bee house.

We placed a few sticks into the bamboo tubes in the house. This helps the bees know which tube is theirs (the third one from the middle stick, for instance). Then they gently slid the cocoons into the tubes.

We hung the house outside on our front porch. This is the south side of the preschool, and hopefully will get some morning and afternoon sun to warm up the bees. Orchard Mason bees need mud to make their nests in the tubes, so we dug a hole in the garden next to the porch for them.

Before the end of the day, our first bee hatched out of her cocoon! Orchard Mason bees are friendly and do not sting. It will be interesting to watch these little creatures do their work.

ICP Visits Bountiful Farm

Every year a family on Bainbridge Island opens up their farm to our classes to come and visit. We have been doing this for many years, and it is such a special day.
The farm itself is absolutely gorgeous.

We walk beside the stream, and look into the pond. The Dolphins and Orcas both found a frog while they were there. The Orcas watched the frog jump across the grass and into the pond, and they got to watch it swim away, pushing with it's strong back legs.

Sometimes the farm kitty came out. The Penguins loved this.

We fed the cows,

even the Mama cow and her little calf.

Sometimes these big farm animals were scary, so it was ok to stand far away and look on from a distance.

We visited the horses bedrooms (the stalls) and even took a turn cleaning up the horse manure.

Here the Orca class is mooing to get the cows to come up the field.

Back at school the Sea Otter pretended they were cows. They built a fenced pasture where they had hay, water, and beds.

This is a Mama cow. He even let us milk him and use his milk to make ice cream@

When the fence got broken, these handy cows fixed it with their hammers.

The Orcas' First Spring Farm School Day

We are fortunate enough to be able to farm with the Educulture Project. We have not been to the farm since we put it to bed for the winter in November. How will it be different now?
We walked down to the farm. From the hill we could see the farm laid out below.

Farmer Brian took us into the greenhouse and we each pulled a carrot from the dirt. Then we washed out carrots and tasted them- yum! We even tasted the green carrot tops which also tasted like carrots.

We ate our snack outside. We got to taste some iceberg lettuce from the grocery store, and some freshly picked organic spinach from the field.

Farmer Brian took us into the greenhouse which was filled with lots of baby plants. The last time we were in here it was full or pumpkins, gourds, seeds and other fall things.

We looked at Farmer Brian's chicks. These will not grow up to lay eggs. Instead they will become someone's dinner and will be for sale through Brian's CSA (community supported agriculture).

Farm Teach Val and a farm intern helped us plant some spinach seeds.

The seeds were very tiny, and we had to be very careful.

We worked together to fill the planting trays. Then we watered them. I wonder what they will look like the next time we come to the farm?

We worked on a Five Senses on the Farm journal. The children drew pictures of what they had seen, smelled, heard, touched, and tasted. We were lucky to have a greenhouse to work in, because just after we came inside, the clouds opened up and poured rain down on the farm!

Green Growing Things

We have been doing a lot of planting at school. We know the four things a plant needs:
1. Water
2. Sun
3. Soil
4. Air
We planted giant sunflower seeds in cups. We water them with spray bottles.

We are keeping a Sunflower Journal, and we take turns being the scientist to record our observations.

Now look how big our plants have grown! They will be ready to go home very soon.

Eco-School Work

Island Co-op is an Eco-School. To quote their website (
"The Eco-Schools program was started in 1994 by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) with support by the European Commission. It was identified by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) as a model initiative for Education for Sustainable Development in 2003. Currently, there are over 59 countries around the world participating in the program.
The Eco-Schools program strives to model environmentally sound practices, provide support for greening the curriculum and enhance science and academic achievement. Additionally, it works to foster a greater sense of environmental stewardship among youth."
Each quarter we have a different focus. The Winter quarter focus was Consumption and Waste. We did a variety of activities, from counting how many pieces of packaging our snacks used, to saving our garbage for a week and seeing how much we create.
We brought our garbage to school, and combined it with the school garbage. We had a large pile.

Then we sorted it by garbage,


and recyclables. We had the most recyclables! Yay! We continue to save snack scraps for our compost bin, and sort garbage from recyclables. Spring quarter we will be working on Healthy Living by increasing our time outdoors.

The Orca Show

The children in the Orca class have been showing interest in performing. One day they dressed up, built a stage out of blocks, and put on an impromptu show. We decided we would like to put on a real show.

We started out by drawing a picture of us on stage, doing what we wanted to do in the show, and showing what we know about the stage, and a show. We all decided what we would do in the show. There would be ballerinas, a dance group, a singing group, a violinist, a snake tamer, and some sailors. We chose which team we would work on to get ready for the show.

The Stage Team was responsible for the curtain, the backdrops, and the lighting. They drew up plans for how to rig a curtain. One boy suggested black garbage bags and binder clips (brilliant!). We practiced to see if they worked, first.

The children decided they needed four different backdrops that would change during the show. Here a group is painting the backdrop for the sailor piece.

The "Twinkle Stars" singing group painted a backdrop with music notes on it.

The Information Team's job was to make invitations, posters, tickets, and programs for the show.

The Reception Team was responsible for the fancy reception for the performers and audience after the show. They made decorations using the show colors we voted for: purple and orange.

The Stage Team worked hard to figure out how to hang the backdrops so that they could be changed.

The performers all got time to practice. Hard work and patience paid off in the end.

Here the Stage Team is working on the stage lighting. They decided to use flashlights to give extra light to the stage.

We had to figure out how to hang the flashlights.

As we got closer to the show, the Teams did their final work. The Information Team made the programs,

and the Reception Team baked and decorated the cookies to be served.

We worked hard getting enough chairs for the audience. Then we numbered the chairs, and put corresponding numbers on the tickets.

Here is the cast, ready for the show! It went fabulously! The children were shocked when the audience clapped and cheered for them. Every child was brave and performed beautifully. The families and guests were so proud and pleased to be able to be there. One day we will see a movie someone made of our performance. We can hardly wait!

Learning About Habitats

We have been learning about habitats. A habitat needs four things:
1. Food
2. Water
3. Shelter
4. A place to raise your babies.
The Dolphins built some habitats in the classroom. They raised the bird's nests up high for safety.

There were many different kinds of animals, so many different kinds of habitats.

We figured out what would be the food, and what would be the water.

We looked at the habitats of our classroom pets. We cleaned out the rats cage, and got it all fixed for her.

One friend brought in some frog eggs he had found in a bog.

We made a frog habitat, complete with water, lily pads, and insects for dinner.