Thursday, February 28, 2013

Health and Wellness

An overarching theme for the month of February was love, love of family, friends, self and the world around us. Aside from talking about our relationships and preparing for valentines day we have discussed loving ourselves and what that entails. To go along with our health and wellness theme we created and played out scenarios in bathroom dramatic play. Here are some pictures...
"Toilet," "bathtub," and "sink" with real props such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, towels, toilet paper and other hygeine related items for the class to explore.
Vocabulary included body parts, toiletries and words related to hygeine. After looking at the flashcards and books and conversing in the dramatic play area we were able to sound out, write and discuss the words during activity time in our journals.
We talked about caring for ourselves and others-exercise, sleep, healthy and unhealthy foods to eat, washing up and brushing our teeth. Here Kimberly, Miguel and  Esther care for their babies. Above Kimberly cleans out her baby's ears with a q-tip and below reading a story after bathing the babies.

Esther giving the baby a bath with soap and water in the "sink".

The class really enjoyed playing out scenarios related to health and caring for the self and others in bathroom dramatic play. We learned the vocabulary quickly with this hands on approach that allowed the children to make the connection between the word and the physical object. I was impressed and proud of how quickly the class grasped the concepts and were able to say and write the words.

We will continue the theme by talking about what is inside the body, how we grow and health issues as we move into doctor dramatic play next week.

Restaurant Day

After talking about our restaurant and planning for over a week, the Kindergarteners were eager to welcome the First and Second Graders to our restaurant.
All set up and ready to go!
We spent the previous weeks in activity time and restaurant dramatic play discussing and learning about: different types of food, menus, the layout of a restaurant, customer and waiter dialogue, cooking and recipes, pricing foods and addition and subtraction with money and the cash register. The subject matter was rich with material for academics in all areas including vocabulary, literacy and math. In preparation for Friday we had made our own menus, priced our items and sent an invitation to the First and Second Grade who arrived Friday afternoon right on time.
Working on our own menus with menus from local restaurants and food vocabulary cards.

Sisa setting the table.
Getting ready. So much vocabulary- plates, cups, forks, knives, spoons!

Playing with props before our guests arrived.


Artful table settings.

Bringing out menus.
Kimberly taking orders.

Miguel writing out the bill for Charlie and Gage. Looks yummy guys.

Sisa counting out change.

Oscouris and Jaciel settling the bill.

The day was a success, exciting and stimulating for all ages of children! We love it when we can collaborate with the other classes and make learning relevant and fun.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More Music

After listening to Wendy's beautiful harp playing last week, this Friday we received another musical gift- Juan Manuel, a trombone player from Las Terrenas came to our school to share his musical talent with us.

It was great for the kids to hear some Merengue and to sing along to some of their favorite songs as well.

We also got a chance to dance...

And try playing the trombone...
Juan Manuel will be returning to teach the First and Second Grade students about reading music.

Thank you so much Juan Manuel!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Place Based Education

"Place-based education immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. Place-based education emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community."

There are so many enriching learning opportunities just in the environment around our school. Walking through our neighborhood we pass animals, markets, banks, grocery stores, clothing vendors, bakeries, doctors' offices, vehicle repair shops and so many different people- endless opportunities for asking questions, exploring and putting a context to the vocabulary we are learning in class. Sometimes we have sensory walks where we isolate one sense and then talk about what we saw, smelled, heard, touched and even tasted once we return to class. It is empowering for the students to be the experts as well as learn to experience their home in different ways. They are beginning to recognize the coexisting people, places and components of their community as they work to find their own place in it.
Here are some of the ways we have been learning by looking to the community around us:

Exploring different types of maps and creating our own.
As we explored our community on walks, the children became interested in the local comedors (small restaurants) and we decided to open our own comedor in class, which gave us many opportunities to practice different parts of our curriculum.
This project was fairly extensive, capturing the children's attention for weeks in which we made our own menus, practiced restauarant and food vocabulary, learned about money and used math skills with our new cash register (bought with funds raised at the CT fundraiser) as well as practiced speaking, writing orders and cooking which is great for literacy and math (reading recipes, measuring amounts). 
Miguel, Anastasia and Ana Evelyn hard at work in the comedor.
The class was so interested in cooking that they created opportunities with objects for nature patterns and outside during recess. The restaurant project will culminate this Friday as the First and Second Grade joins us in our restaurant!
As we build upon the restaurant theme we have also been expanding our exploration of the community, including community helpers like police, firefighters, teachers, construction workers, doctors and postal workers. Here Kimberly and Anastasia practice writing community helper vocabulary.
We documented our walks around our neighborhood with photographs and turned them into these community building blocks so we can recreate the community's geography inside our classroom.
Esther builds with community blocks, vocabulary: roads, buildings, vehicle names, trees.
After learning the names of vehicles (and tools) we opened our own mechanic shop.
Teamwork during morning free play to build a "hotel," definitely something that is very present in the community where tourism is a primary source of income for many families.
As a newcomer to Las Terrenas, it has been a gift to begin looking around the community and exploring it from the childrens' views. There are endless, rich opportunities for incorporating any type of academic curriculum in ways that are meaningful and useful to the students. The community involvement as well as finding an area where the children have the knowledge and can share their wisdom while learning are major components of the Las Terrenas International School Philosophy.
Current reading/ Inspiration: Pedagogy of the Oppressed Paulo Freire, opening quote-, and special thanks to Brenda Hillenius for sharing her passion, resources and project ideas with us!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

ACES Visits

During the past few weeks we have had several visits from people who work for ACES, a non- profit foundation that works closely with the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation and Las Terrenas International School.  It has been great to talk and collaborate (ACES has opened a school in Santo Domingo) with all of these amazing, passionate people who share our vision and are working towards it.

During these weeks we were also lucky to have the pleasure of volunteer Wendy McCormick, the ACES Treasurer, who shared her harp and amazing talent with all of the classes.

Our students watched, engaged and relaxed as Wendy played.
We sang along to some of our favorite songs.
Wendy even gave us each a chance to play the harp!

Thank you so much for this special gift Wendy!