Dayna taught us that some key characteristics of mandalas are that they are circular, and usually involve at least one pair of concentric circles (one circle at the core, and another outer circle), they are often divided into at least four quadrants, and they have symmetry in them. These are all good mathematical, and artistic, concepts. The kids worked on these concepts through their work on mandalas. They observed the world around them to look for mandalas in nature. They coloured printed mandalas and made mandalas using found art in clan groups. The munchkins also created their own mandalas on paper, working not only their understanding of mandalas, quadrants and symmetry, but also working their fine motor skills through intricate drawing and cutting. Many also chose to include patterns in their design.
Finger Knitting Part Two
Finger knitting really takes off once we get back to Malcolm Knapp. Maybe it’s the cozy fire in the yurt that makes us want to cuddle up and knit cozy scarves for the cooler weather. Whatever it is, it goes from a few kids really wanting to knit, to everyone knitting. It is really cool to see the kids all begin to take off in this ability. What is even cooler though, is how well they help each other out and teach each other how to finger knit. They are patient and always willing to help others out.
How is Wool Made?
We have a fascination with finger knitting, but where does the wool come from? Becki came in and read us a story about how wool is processed. She brought in a spindle to show us tools used for spinning wool. She even showed us how to make our own using a weighted object, like an apple!
What a year it was for fungus! Everywhere we went there was so much fungus to study! Fungus is fascinating, and we got to see some species that we haven’t seen in years. The kids became awesome fungus finders… I must have hundreds of pictures of fungus on my phone and camera. Even still, (in January), we are managing to find some fungus on our adventures.
There are so many fungi and so much to know about them that we’ve barely scratched the surface! Our eyes are now trained to look for fungus, so as we find more, especially come Fall again, we will continue to learn about fantastic and fascinating fungus.
Checking up on the Cedars
Last year, we worked on identifying, flagging and then placing protective cones around baby cedars in a clear cut in the forest. The kids worked on comparing and contrasting the different baby trees and they go to help out around our home at Malcolm Knapp. It was a crisp, cold morning so we decided to go for a hike to stay warm. We walked back to the clear cut to check up on our baby cedars. The kids were excited to see the clear cut and if their work held up (it did). There was a lot of remembering on our hike as kids shared what they learnt and accomplished.
Playing with letters, sounds and words is one of the best ways to help kids develop their language skills. We are always playing around with language, whether it’s secret letters or sounds or alliterations. Often Dayna and I will word things specifically to highlight a sound or a letter. For example, while we were out adventuring, Dayna used alliteration to name one kid, for example, Michelle the Monkey.
They ALL wanted an alliteration name. They stopped what they were doing and came together to help each other come up with good animal alliterations for their names. After a few minutes, we added adjectives to the mix. They kept rethinking and refining their animal alliterations all the way back to the yurt. They even came up with animal alliterations for their older friends and the teachers. They were quite excited and wanted to draw their animals once we got back to the yurt. This was a great oral to written language activity.
Another game we play with letters is Poison Letter. The kids all line up and the caller calls out a letter. If they have that letter in their name, they take a step forward. If they have that letter twice in their name, they take two steps forward, and so on. The game ends when someone reaches the caller (and they become the new caller). HOWEVER, there is a catch. There is one poison letter that is announced before the beginning of each game. If you step forward when the poison letter is called, even if it’s in your name, you go back to the start line.
For some of the kids, this game helps them work on recognizing letters and the letters in their name out of order (a much more complex task than learning the letters of your name in a set order). For some of the older ones, they start pulling in their last names, middle names and any other thing they can think of to maximize their letter odds.
Earlier in the year, we worked on measurements using non-standard units of measurement. We worked on one measurement at a time, such as the depth of one puddle, or the length or perimeter of one puddle. Now comes the next step: comparing measurements. Comparing measurements is much more complex. It requires a better understanding of measurement and some basic, yet essential, components to measurement such as iteration (placing the object you are using to measure directly in front of itself time… no gaps… over and over again), and using the SAME unit of measurement when measuring the two things you are comparing.
Another key understanding that we are developing through these measuring activities is that, even if we use different units of measurement, the things we are measuring stay the same, and the bigger of the two will always be the bigger of the two no matter what we use to measure them with. So, in the end, we should all have the same answer as to which is biggest or smallest, not matter what we used to measure. This sounds obvious, but it really wasn’t and it took a few days and activities for the kids to understand this for themselves.
Krista and some helpers made us a wonderful soup out of veggies that we all brought from home. Some parents sent along some bread as well, so we decided to make butter to go along with it. We placed whipping cream into jars and then shook, shook, shook, shook, shook those jars up. We played butter shaking relays, and all chipped in to shake and shake and shake it until we created butter! It was delicious!
With a change in seasons comes a change in our weather patterns and presents us with new things to explore. On this day, there was an inversion in the morning, where the air closer to the ground is colder than the air above it (an inversion of normal conditions where the air closer to the ground is usually warmer than the air above it) . We hiked to the lookout to observe the effect that inversions have. We found Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows sleeping below a sea of cloud, with mountains peaking out like islands.