Everyone knows that it’s important for children to read each night with their grownups. But why? What does the research say? How do we read together? Is it best if I read or the child reads? If you’ve ever asked these questions, you’re not alone. Research shows that when a child reads with grownups for up to for 20 minutes a day every day, they hear 1.8 million words per year and they outperform 90% of their peers (Nagy & Herman, 1987). Reading with your child improves family relationships, opens up children to other viewpoints, and leads to greater cognitive development (Kalb & van Ours, 2014). Research shows that reading together improves listening skills, increases confidence at school, and even significantly increases earning potential later in life (Senechal & LeFevre 2003). Having books in print at home is twice as important to a child’s reading ability than the parents’ educational levels (Evans, Kelley, Sikorac, & Treimand, 2010). Providing a steady stream of new, age appropriate books can triple a child’s interest in reading (Harris & Louis, 2013). When parents read patiently, with fun voices, and pause to ask questions, children experience increased language development, comprehension, and understanding of story structure. No, it doesn’t matter whether they read to you or you read to them, as long as you are fostering a love of reading.
Lately we’ve spent time modeling respectful conversations with our friends. We’re trying to be happy for friends when they succeed, rather than bragging that we did better than them. For example, when a friend builds a Lego ship, we are practicing giving a compliment rather than saying that ours is cooler. In a similar vein, we’re reminding ourselves that we don’t need to be the first finished, the first in line, or have the most of something. Coyotes are also learning about tone of voice. We now understand that a phrase can sound kind or disrespectful depending on how you say it. Role playing relevant interactions has really helped us in this regard. Here are some examples:
Before Spring Break the Coyotes were engaged and contributing to their classroom, school, and Teton Valley Community in so many ways. In the beginning of March the first grade Coyotes (Foxes) completed a unit on measurement in Math by creating items to sell at the “Coyote Cafe”. Students needed to decide what time the cafe would open and how long it would stay open, they needed to measure out ingredients for brownies and jello, they used fractions to make sure the treats were shared evenly to all their customers, and they used their money counting skills to decide on a price for the goodies and to make sure they were receiving the correct amount from kindergarten customers. This culminating activity helped first graders to show their knowledge and share it with their younger peers. Later in March the whole class got super excited to catch a leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day. The day before individuals and groups of students schemed together and created traps based on the knowledge they gained and referenced from leprechaun books. Unfortunately or fortunately no one was able to capture a leprechaun but the class was able to celebrate “Yes Day” as all students worked together to fill a huge jar full of pom-pom for every expectation met and exceeded as a group. Yes Day consisted of extra explorations and recess time, a movie, and a visit to the Emporium for the Coyote Community. Perhaps a highlight of the month and a task that students are still dedicated to is the health and growth of our classroom trout. Read below to see what students have learned about trout and what they are still curious to find out.
What do we know about trout? What do we still want to know?
”They need cold and clean gravel because then they could die.” – Vera
“Some of them travel to the ocean.” – Iris
“They can camouflage so that they hide from predators who want to eat them” – Zeke
“Maggots eat dead trout. When trout lay their eggs, the tails give the eggs oxygen by making waves in the water.” – Ethan
“First they move on to different things like being a baby and then a sac fry and then a fry and then a fingerling and then an adult” – Crosby
“They can hatch in eggs. They can grow. They can swim around and eat other trout if they feel hungry. And they can sleep with their eyes open.” – Wesley
“If they have along jaw, they are a boy. If not, they are a girl.” -Braylon
“Ours are almost grown up.” – Pepper
“They hatch out of eggs.” -Callum
“What are their differences from salmon?” – Izzy
“How do they lay their eggs? How do trout eat their food from their sac?” -Billy
“How long do they live?” – Wilder
“Some trout fight with other trout for food.” – Gillian
“I know trout swim fast, because I see them swimming under my boat in the summer.” – Rhea
Returning from Spring Break it seemed all the Huskies grew a few inches. This physical growth parallels their academic growth as the 2nd grade Huskies have been working with the metric system while 3rd grade Huskies are working with long division (apt skills if you’re already thinking ahead to your next vacation!). In literacy, Huskies in 3rd grade are closing in on learning and using every uppercase cursive letter while the 2nd grade Huskies have also learned just about every lowercase letter! The Huskies are very proud of this new skill and would likely be more than happy to show it off!
The other day in a social emotional learning lesson, the Huskies spoke about “Flipping their lid” complete with an understanding of their brain at its respective parts (amygdala, brain stem, prefrontal cortex). When emotions run high, we have the tendency to “flip our lid” and lose control of our prefrontal cortex’s ability to think straight, show empathy, and problem solve. The Huskies brainstormed strategies to help cap their lid and calm themselves so that they can think clearly and navigate situations. Ask your Husky to demonstrate the hand model of the brain and strategies they can use to calm themselves!
After the Husky pack reconvened from a two week break, they have taken a deep dive into exploring Teton Valley recycling and waste management. On Monday, they had a special visitor, Angela, from Teton Valley Community Recycling. This was an awesome prelude for the Huskies’ journey the following day as they ran north to the Transfer Station in Driggs. There, the Huskies learned how the transfer station helps sort, consolidate, and recycle items people discard. Be sure to ask your Husky how many pounds the class weighs altogether (we also hope your Husky has been utilizing their new hand-sewn bag made from a t-shirt)!
“I liked the recycling bins and weighing the class. The class weighed less than I thought!” – Clark Pennington
“Something that surprised me was how some people just toss things away that are still in good condition.” – Thea Adams
“Something that stood out to me was the fact that they get 114,000 tons of trash a year.” – Peter Mollenkof
Unfortunately, Ms. Carolyn’s love of writing has rubbed off on many, if not all, mushrooms. It’s hard to deny when you have the opportunity to see what they have accomplished this year in. Currently, ⅘ is working on their final “Moment” story to publish and present to the class and hopefully a larger community audience. A “Small Moment Exploded Moment Story” is one in which writers think of a moment in particular, simple or more complex; take pouring a glass of milk for example. Writers utilize sensory detail (touch, taste, feel, smell, see) to create a greater, more elaborate and engaging story. “Thought shots,” a writing technique in which the thoughts of characters within a story are revealed at greater detail to add an additional level of depth, are also included in this final piece. So fortunately/unfortunately, your ⅘-er is a writer. I have evidence to prove it!
“What is ‘fun?’”… Really?!
When you really ask yourself that question, it is not as simple as it may initially seem. The same was true for our Misty Mushrooms. However, when given some time to think, discuss, collaborate, and perform, I think we left with a much deeper, more accurate understanding. Truthfully, this idea of “fun” or “play” can be underappreciated as an essential component of learning. However, when incorporated intentionally and effectively, play can lead to stronger and more authentic learning experiences. Which, is the whole point of this- right? I asked ⅘ to define fun, and then create and perform a game of their own development together. They made the rules, the teams, managed conflict and resolution, etc.. I was there as only the observer/adult support when needed.
Otherwise, “go play.”
and they did …
I cannot express enough the value in our journey to the Jackson Campus Middle School science lab. Middle school teacher Hannah, astrology-lover and expert, led us through the essentials of the scientific method, and created stations to put these steps to the test. Misty Mushrooms asked questions, developed hypothesis, and worked together to collect data and analyze their work in order to draw conclusions. This was The definition of hands-on learning, while connecting with our friends over the hill. Misty Mushroom Science Fair, April 27. Be there, or be square!