Sunday, 30 March 2014

Investigating new wonder questions! Life cycle and natural habitat of hermit crabs!

While reading some of our "I see, I think, I wonder", post-it-notes, P.I. asked a very good wonder question!

"Where do hermit crabs come from? How are they made?" 

Everyone was pondering. This was a question that had yet to be explored. Thinking critically, the students expressed some of their thoughts both verbally and through writing.

"Maybe they have babies?" "I think they lay eggs." B.S.

"I think they (babies) grow in their tummy, because babies come out of mommy's tummy." M.P.

"They can also come out of eggs. If it has three, then they come out of mommy's tummy. But if they have one, then they come out of an egg." E.S.

"I think the hermit crab comes out of its shell and has a baby and then they try and find a new shell." K.W.

"It's like a cycle. It starts with an egg, then it hatches, then it grows into a big hermit crab, then it finds a shell and does it all over again!" C.M.

"Yea, it gets another baby. It's a cycle!" E.H.

"Maybe the baby comes out from the shell when they're breaking their exoskeleton?" G.B.

"How do hermit crabs first start out as a baby?" W.E.

To support our learning, we will read some non-fiction books, view videos of hermit crabs, and use our own theories to help answer our questions!

We learned that hermit crabs use salt water to bathe in and fresh water to drink.

Dote climbing in the fresh water dish

While reading more post-it-notes, A.M. had another great wonder question for us to explore!

"How do hermit crabs get fresh water when they're on the beach?"

The students had lots of great theories!

"Maybe they dig a tunnel and get fresh water then come back out." A.P.

"I think they dig a hole near a tree and get fresh water from the roots." D.S.

"Yes, inside the ground it's watery!" A.P.

"I think the water travels through the holes in the ground, it goes to the roots, and the hermit crab digs a hole and gets fresh water from the roots of trees." D.S.

"Maybe they find a pool near the beach and they drink from there?" W.E.

"But there's chlorine in the pool and they can't drink that!" E.H.

"When it rains the hermit crabs can get fresh water. They open their pincers and drink it. It's true! This is how they get fresh water because when I was in Cuba it rained and I saw a hermit crab!" E.H.

"Maybe people leave short cups of fresh water on the sand for the hermit crabs." C.M.

"I'm going to go to the Dominican and find hermit crabs and see if they go out of the beach to find fresh water." A.P.

Stay tuned as we explore this wonder question further!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Earth Hour!

We had a wonderful time taking part in Earth Hour at school this past Friday! The official Earth Hour is today between 8:30 and 9:30 pm. If you take part, please email me photos! We love making connections beyond the classroom. We have been discussing electricity, what it is, how it's made, and how it relates to helping the earth?  I am in the process of transcribing a 20 min whole group video discussion! It was fascinating to hear the students' theories and wonders pertaining to electricity!  Stay tuned for a follow-up blog post.

Students creating in the dark for Earth Hour. They absolutely loved this experience! 

Students creating a city and now adding hydro wires for the electricity!

Student theory on how electricity is made!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Make your thoughts and wonders heard!

Beside our bulb and seed inquiry documentation display, we have placed post-it-notes and pencils for family, staff, and students to write down any thoughts or wonders they may have about bulbs, seeds, plants, etc. We already had some parent and staff wonders!

We're excited to read them all and try our best to investigate them further!

Building structures with 3 dimensional figures!

Building structures has been an ongoing exploration for students since the beginning of school. But over time, the structures and language used to describe their creations is becoming more sophisticated as we continue to explore shapes and 3 dimensional figures.  

Addition using the abacus!

A few students noticed the abacus on the shelf and asked if they could play with it. As they explored the beads by moving them back and forth on the row, they naturally stared counting them! I asked them to grab some paper and markers and draw and write what they were doing.

They were very proud when they shared their work with the class. They demonstrated counting the beads to get the total number.

I wonder what new ways of adding with develop?!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Bulb and Seed Inquiry documentation board display!

Next time you are in the school, please stop by and take a look at our new documentation board display.  The students are so proud of their learning thus far! Amazingly, new explorations and investigations continue to immerse! 

Creating with sticks!

During our morning outdoor time, a few students started creating structures using sticks! 

"We made a square based pyramid!" P.I.

Exploring shadows!

New explorations immersed at the overhead projector!

A.M. and M.P. started tracing their shadows which were depictions of a bird and dog. During their talk, they noticed that their shadows became smaller when they went closer to the blackboard,and larger when they moved away. They wondered why?

Other creations were also developed!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Creating with 3 Dimensional shapes

We recently started learning the names and different attributes of 3 dimensional shapes from the many creations and structures done by the students during their free flow time.  

We also read the book called, "Circles of Round" by: Signe Sturup. 

Using the book to further extend knowledge, various strips of paper and twist ties were placed at a table with the caption, "What shape can you create?"

The students created some amazing things! 

W.E. and E.E. experimented with their newly created circles!

More to come!

Explorations using the overhead projector!

In order to encourage new explorations, we removed the light table and placed an overhead projector in it's place. When the students entered the room that morning, they immediately started asking questions, drawn to the light being projected on the wall. Below are some of the many investigations and creations taking place! 

"How will I remember it without taking a picture?" B.S.

"I'm not sure? What do you think you can do?" Mrs. Ralph

After some time passed, I noticed B.S. was tracing his creation with chalk.

"What a great idea! How did you figure this out?" Mrs. Ralph

"I saw the chalk and noticed the picture on the blackboard and it gave me the idea to trace it!" B.S.

Further collaborative thinking between A.P. and B.S. led to them asking to use paper to trace their creation which they felt would be more permanent than using chalk which can be erased. 

A.M. was observing what A.P. and B.S. were working on and wondered, why the picture on the blackboard was bigger than the creation on the overhead projector screen?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

"But how are seeds made?!"

The students have been observing, theorizing, and asking further questions about the seeds and bulbs currently planted in our classroom.  

They are on a planting frenzy!  Digging and extracting seeds from their snacks and lunches that they want to plant!  As well, they are bringing seeds from home in ziploc bags with the sole purpose to plant them!  O.S. gave us a planting kit which included soil and seeds to plant radishes, carrots, and onions.  We planted everything!

We decided to gather together and share our thoughts about all the things we had planted.

“What do you see, think, or wonder about the things we have planted?” Mrs. Ralph

“I think a pit doesn’t grow roots, but seeds do and bulbs do too!” E.S.

“What makes you say that E?” Mrs. Ralph

“Because the avocado pit is not growing roots. The bulb here is, and the seeds here, have roots too. I don’t know if it’s true, but bulbs and seeds are maybe from the same family!” E.S.

“I think an olive is a fruit and has a pit because it grows on a tree, and vegetables have to grow on a vine or a bush and they have seeds.” A.M.

“Why is a seed small and a pit big?” C.M.

“I think that seeds grow under the ground and pits grow inside the fruits or vegetables.  The pit is so small when it begins and then it gets bigger inside them.” A.M.

“I think that the avocado was big, so the seed is big.” M.P.

“A pit is small and the avocado is bigger than the seed.” K.E.

“Maybe the seeds grow under the soil and there’s a pit inside the seed and it helps the seed grow bigger.” C.D.

“I think a seed and a bulb are different because a bulb grows much bigger and a seed grows much smaller because bugs like to eat seeds not bulbs.” B.S.

“How can we know if this (avocado) is a seed or a pit?” C.M.

“Does anyone have anything to add?” Mrs. Ralph

 “I think they’re not all growing because they’re not all the same shape and size.” P.I.

“They’re different plants, so they grow differently.” A.P.

We decided to plant the radishes, carrots, and onions, leaving a few seeds behind for us to remember what they looked like.

During lunch, B.S. had the following wonder question:

“How come I can’t see any seeds in my carrot?”

“I think the seeds pop out of the green part of the carrot.” O.S.

“I think the seeds are really small.” C.D.

“Yea, I think they’re so small you can’t see them.” G.M.

“What about the onion and radish?” A.M.

“How can we find out what’s inside?” Mrs. Ralph

“We can try to cut a carrot, or radish, or onion, and we can look carefully and see.” D.S.

The following day we had a radish, an onion, and many carrots ready to be dissected!

After the radish was cut, the students observed that it contained no seeds inside.

“I think the seeds come through the roots.” W.E.

“I think the stem holds the seeds inside.” E.S.

The students also didn’t see seeds inside the carrot.

“Why do you think you don’t see any seeds inside?” Mrs. Ralph

“Maybe when they grow, they cut the stem open, that’s where the seeds are.” M.P.

“Maybe it’s magic how we get seeds?” H.S.

“Maybe they are hiding and you can’t see them because they are so tiny.” D.C.

Lastly, we cut open the onion.

“It’s like the bulb plant inside!” M.P.

“There’s lines inside.” C.D.

“I think that onions are bulbs because it looks the same like the Amaryllis we cut open.” D.S.

“You can peel layers just like the bulb plants.” A.P.

“It looks the same as the bulb when we cut it open.” W.E.

“Where did the onion seeds that we planted come from?” Mrs. Ralph

“Maybe they make them in a factory by taking pieces and putting them under a machine.” A.M.

“Maybe we got the seeds form under the soil?” I.S.

“Maybe the worms made the seeds.” A.P.

Students' theories on how seeds are made.

To further support our growing wonder questions and theories, we read a few books including “A Seed Is Sleepy” by: Dianna Hutts Aston.  

“What do you think a seed is sleepy means?” Mrs. Ralph

“In the winter, the seeds go inside the tree and sleep.” D.S.

“In the winter, when the seed is crumbly, it is sleeping.” G.B.

“It sleeps before it sprouts.” M.P.

“When you get a seed it is inside a shell. When it is in the shell it is sleeping and waiting to grow.” B.S.

“They land on the ground and go deeper to sleep and wait for spring.” E.S.

As we read on, the students noticed all the different seeds and plants that were pictured in the book.

“The seeds are different because they grow all different things.” E.H.

“I think that seeds are on top of the flower (pointing to sunflower picture in book).” A.P.

“They need to take their time to sprout.” M.P.

“How do they grow?” K.W.

“They (seeds) tell us how beautiful they are going to look and how colourful they are going to be.” I.R.

“Some seeds are secretive and hide inside pods.” A.P.

“What are pods?” Mrs. Ralph

“A pod is what protects the seed.” O.S.

“They have pods because they need protection.” A.P.

“If there are different amount of seeds, they are held in different parts of a plant.” E.H.

As we continued reading, A.P. noticed something in the book and shouted “We have this!” He ran to the light table shelf and grabbed a pod from the basket!  “This is the same one like in the book (pointing to the Indian Almond pod and seed picture)!” “The pod is split in half and it holds three seeds on each side which means it holds six seeds altogether!” A.P.

Investigating different seeds using clay.

What perfect timing! During one of our discussions, Mr. Miller came into our class holding something very interesting.  He told us he found it in the playground but had no idea what it was?  He then left it with us to investigate.

“I think we should go on a trip and find the tree in the spring when it’s green!” A.P.

Lots of excitement filled the air as observations and theories were made:

“The seeds are long so it needs to have a long pod for protection!” W.E.

“The pod protects the seed from the animals who want to eat them.” O.S.

This was a good time to introduce an iPad application called Leafsnap.  This free app uses visual recognition software to help identify tree species from photographs of their leaves.  Leafsnap contains beautiful high-resolution images of leaves, flowers, fruit, petiole, seeds, and bark created by the conservation organization Finding Species (

We used the map function on the app to locate our school and it generated all the surrounding trees close by. One by one we viewed each type of tree seed in hopes of discovering what Mr. Miller gave us.  As soon as we came to a tree called Catawaba and viewed its seeds, we knew we had found our match!

“We were right, the seeds are in the long pods!” E.S.

“Trees make seeds.” N.S.

“There is a seed inside a pit!” E.H.

“A pod is like a shell!” E.E.

“But how are seeds made? When the earth was first made and there were no seeds, how were they made? How did they get there? Seeds don’t magically appear! Who made the seeds first?” A.P.

Stay tuned as our wonderings grow and our knowledge blossoms!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Spontaneous snow fun!

"Most children are naturally curious about their surroundings. They have an interest in exploring and investigating to see how things work and why things happen. Children have an innate sense of wonder and awe and a real desire for inquiry." Ontario Ministry of Education. The-Full Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program. Draft Version. Pg. 14

"What were you doing outside at lunch?" Mrs. Ralph

"I was putting snow in the bag so I can make it heavy! If you put a lot of snow in a bag, it will be heavy. There's 100 snowflakes in there!" R.W.

We decided to bring the bag full of snow inside our class and see what happens.  The bag was passed around and the students noted how heavy it was!  Then we decided to put some snow in a large container, and some in a small container to see what would happen?  The students had lots of theories!

"The lights are not that bright so it's not melting." D.S.

"Maybe there's a lot of snow in the bag and the snow is making the bag cold, so the snow is not melting." K.W.

"When I felt the bag, it was wet, so the snow was melting inside." O.S.

"Maybe the bag was outside and the bag was on the snow and it was cold outside." N.S.

"The bag is cold and the lights are not very much on." E.E.

"It was cold outside and the snow freezed and then we put it all in the plastic bag and was so, so cold so it froze.  Now it's melting!" H.S.

"It was just a little it of time here and we have to wait longer and it will start to melt." E.H.

"The snow had ice and the ice is keeping it cold." I.R.

"Maybe the small one will melt faster because it's smaller and inside it's warm." M.P.

"I think the small one and big one will stay because they both have lots of snow! C.M.

"Maybe the big one has more snow because it's bigger than the other and it will be heavier." N.S.

"I think the big one will melt first because the opening of the little one won't have much hot air to go in.  The big one has a bigger opening at the top so it will melt faster. A.P.

"I think half of both containers will melt because there's so much snow in it that the warm air will only melt half of it." E.S.

The students enjoyed feeling the snow and observing the changes over the time it was in our room.  Among their talk, they accounted for the temperature of the snow, as well as noticing that the snow didn't change to water immediately.  

What a fun spontaneous learning moment!