Friday, March 22, 2013

More Pendulums

Here are some more pictures of us exploring pendulums further- building our own, seeing if the principles work on a smaller scale, observing and documenting our findings- all while having a lot of fun!


Sensory Exploration

"Sensory Integration plays an important role in the social emotional and cognitive development of a child. A sensory smart classroom provides children with many opportunities for heavy work, movement and other calming or alerting sensory activities to improve their ability to focus during school-related tasks."* Activities that promote sensory exploration support the development of children in all areas.
At Las Terrenas International School we provide a rich environment with many opportunities for children to use their senses. We learn by  doing, and the more types of memory teachers can help students to use in the classroom the better the chance is that the information will be retained. The five senses are our connection to the world and to interpreting information. Teaching children to trust their senses is teaching them to learn and come up with answers to their own questions. It teaches the learning process rather than just information or facts.
Here are some of the many ways we incorporate the senses in our classroom and community environments.
Sight- whether observing plants, animals, behaviors or experiments children are learning to observe and draw conclusions.
Smell and touch- "baking" with cinnamon and vanilla playdough
Sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste- on our five senses walks, we focus on one sense each time and encourage students to explore the world using that sense especially, whether sight, hearing, touch, smell or even taste. 
Touch, sound and sight. Students at LTIS practice writing and exploring letters with many different mediums. Repeating the movements and sounds used to write and say each letter and putting the whole body into the writing makes the process and product more relevant and interesting for the child. The different feelings of various materials on the fingers keeps children engaged and focused.
Using sand and tiny wax beads to practice writing

Letter stamps on moonsand

Smell, touch and sight with nature materials and nature patterns
In the Preschool Annette encourages students to describe and guess what materials are by touching them in the mystery bag
Children are natural explorers. By providing a sensory rich environment and encouraging students to explore in this way we allow them to learn holistically and help them to hone these amazing tools that are available to them.
Works Cited:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Post Office

We have been using our new found writing skills to write each other letters and decided that it would be a good time to open up a classroom post office with mailboxes. We found some amazing materials- envelopes, "stamps," cards and stationary to work with and had so much fun writing letters to friends in our class. We learned how to address and stamp an envelope as well as what "to," and "from," mean. Here are some pictures of us hard at work!
Kimberly addressing an envelope
The mailboxes we made from recycled milk cartons

Miguel making a birthday card

Ana Evelyn putting a message in an envelope

We will continue writing to each other and using our mailboxes in Kindergarten!

Doctor and Vet Dramatic Play

After learning about how to keep healthy with bathroom dramatic play we are exploring doctor dramatic play. We are learning so much vocabulary- body parts, inside the body and doctors tools. Bring able to play with our doctors kits (one being a generous donation from Cathering Flavin- Thank you so much!) has allowed our class to work through anxieties and answer questions about visits to the doctor and getting sick. We have enjoyed reading and singing related stories and songs such as "How do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?" and "Miss. Molly." Here are some pictures from the past few weeks.
Ana Evelyn, Kimberly and Pamela give the baby a check up
Kimberly answeing an important call

Rosangela looking at the organs- lungs, heart, intestines, stomach and liver 

Practicing sounding out words with doctor vocabulary
After working in our doctor's office for two weeks we decided to carry on using the same materials but incorporating animals and opening our vet's office. Now for vocabulary we are learning names of animals and for science, about animals needs and life cycles, so this is a perfect way to incorporate play into what we are learning.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

First and Second Grade

We are very lucky to have amazing teacher and family and child psychologist Milenia de la Rosa, who graciously stepped in to cover the First and Second Grade class for the second part of this year. Milenia keeps busy tutoring and working on literacy projects for the library as well and has been working at the foundation for over a year. She has such a presence in the classroom and is so gifted with children. When she walks in the room, the class becomes still and listens and I love hearing her beautiful voice as she teaches many concepts through song. We cannot thank her enough for her work with the school and foundation.
Milenia is teaching the Dominican School Curriculum including math, science, history, spanish language, literacy, science, social skills and ethics in the morning and in the afternoon the class receives English immersion, art, music and drama projects with Erica and Mercedes.


In February Milenia shared some specific curriculum and projects with me so I could write about them in the blog.
Ethics- Liberty and Patriotism
Civics- Rights and norms
Mathematics- Less Than, Greater Than, equal to as well as the concepts of before, after, during and the numbers from 1-99
Spanish Language- Using a dictionary, usage of Bb and Yy and making personal information cards
Lectures and Reports- Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, The Trumpet and the Ball, Selfish and Cinderella
Poetry and Song- My Flag, The National Hymn, Independence Hymn and Auroras de mi Patria 
Social Studies- Patriotism, The flag, the school and being a good citizen (Independence day feb 27th)
Science- Parts of plants, reproduction of flowers

Milenia also plans on leading a professional development workshop next week for tthe LTIS teachers on classroom management. Thank you Milenia!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Physics- Play with Pendulums

An exciting new project we are working on in Kinderarten is Pendulums. After a brief introduction to the concept I left the class to experiment with different types of pendulums I had made with recycled objects. They had lots of time to work with partners and independently. We are learning so much about motion, gravity, speed and forces.
 Blowing the pendulum back and forth.
Experimenting to see what the impact of different weights inside the pendulum is.
 Building a tower to knock down.
 Table pendulums.
5,4,3,2,1,0! Miguel getting ready to send his pendulum off.

It missed that time! 
Kimberly building on the step up to the classroom
 At the end of the activity we tucked the pendulums away in our room. We plan on doing lots more exploration and experimenting!

The Three Little Pigs in Preschool

 After her class expressed interest in the story of The Three Little Pigs, Annette, the Preschool teacher discussed the story with her class and read several versions with different endings. Her class then completed several projects related to the stories including making their own puppets and reimagining the story themselves.
Listening to The Three Little Pigs, and discussing the endings of both stories- one in which the Wolf dies and the other in which the pigs make friends with the wolf, the latter being the one the class seemed to prefer.
Making puppets and getting ready to act out the story was a great way for the class to use many pre-literacy and conversation skills.
 The class has begun reading and doing activities related to Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Building pre-literacy skills is an important part of the Preschool curriculum here at LTIS. The work Annette is doing with her class is laying the foundation for future reading and writing skills while building the student's vocabulary in Spanish and English.

Math in Kindergarten

We have been exploring many different mathematic concepts lately including counting to 100, weight, patterns and sorting. Here are some pictures from the past two weeks.
Sisa and Ana Evelyn explore 1:1 correspondence, using flashcards with written numbers and objects. 
We provide a variety of interesting objects and manipulatives to encourage the students to explore, sort, describe or count the objects according to their ability level and interests. Here Kimberly and Esther count with puff balls, unifix cubes and large seeds.
Sisa using a book to reinforce her counting
 Esther creating a complex pattern with different objects.
 Rosangela discovering new concepts with tangrams
 Esther using a generous donation of Montessori materials to make patterns and count, practicing her colors in English at the same time.
We have been learning vocabulary to describe objects in English. Our work with the scales reinforces concepts of size and weight as we discuss whether objects are bigger, smaller, heavier or lighter.
 Rosangela choosing objects to weigh and deciding how to weigh them. She had chosen to put the flowers in one bucket and the stars in another, discovering that the stars were "heavier," and the flowers were "lighter." 
 Rosangela and Miguel working together to balance the scales, purchased with funds raised at a fundraiser I held in December in Connecticut.
We are really enjoying learning different math concepts. It helps the students when they have the objects and can visualize the ideas in a concrete way, especially when we are using our newly acquired English!


Physical Fitness- Zumba

 The LTIS (Las Terrenas International School)  philosophy incorporates the whole body and holistic health into the education process and we are always looking for opportunities to expose our students to different methods of exercise. Of course we jumped at the opportunity to have certified Zumba instructor Stephanie Drullard come to our school and teach Zumba to the Kindergarten, First and Second Graders each Friday.
Zumba is a dance and aerobic fitness program that incorporates hip-hop, samba, salsa, merengue, martial arts and other muscle building actions such as squats and lunges. Although the Zumba craze originated in Columbia it is popular in countries across the globe with over 14 million people taking Zumba classes per week worldwide.
The students have a lot of fun, and let off steam after a week of hard work!
Zumba information from Wikipedia

Monday, March 4, 2013

Whale Watching

For the past few weeks each of the classes at Las Terrenas International School have been reading, learning, drawing, writing and playing as they explore the ocean and especially whales!  
Kimberly explores ocean sensory table
Ocean Exploration
First and Second Graders study and then draw whales

Jaciel- whale spouting
Sea- whale watching boat
Juan Luis- mother and baby whale
The culmination of all our work was a once in a lifetime experience to go on a whale watch in the Samana Bay. The Samana Bay is a special place to watch whales, especially at this time of year because humback whales travel here during the months of February and March to mate and give birth. Thanks to a generous donation made by Jan Meslin and the kindness of Kim Bedell at Whale Samana, each child at our school had the opportunity to go on a whale watch last Friday.
Humpback whale breaching
We not only enjoyed a stop at the tropical paradise Cayo Levantado, an island with white sand, the clearest blue water (and unfortunately packed with loads of turistas straight off the giant cruise ships docked nearby), but we got to ride in a great boat and saw many beautiful humpback whales, including a mother and calf who seemed to want to perform for us, jumping in the air and playfully diving in and out of the water. It was such a gift to see the relationship between mother and calf and the way the mother cared for her baby, staying nearby and supporting each breath. Kim told us that the pattern on each whale's tail is as individual as the human's fingerprint and has allowed specialists to track generations of mothers, their calves and even grandcalves in the waters of Samana.
Baby whale breaching
We learned so much from the very knowledgable Kim Bedell, who is devoted not only to whale watching, but also to preserving the environment, research and conservation so that the whales will keep returning to Samana for many more generations. For more information on the whales and Kim please visit
Kim sharing her whale knowledge with us
Here are some pictures from the day- pictures of the whales coming soon...or you can check out the photo gallery at!/whalesamana?fref=ts.
 Whale 3:00!
 Dileny and her Grandmother enjoying the ride with Safiya
 Laura and her sister Gabriella
 The whole gang post whale watch
Such an amazing trip! Thanks again Jan and Kim!