Probability (the likelihood that an event will happen) is a mathematical concept that is introduced in kindergarten and further explored in subsequent years of school. We use probability every day when we describe events with words such as “definitely,” “probably,” “probably not,” and “impossible.” In our learning groups, we brainstormed examples of each term. It is certain that the sun will rise tomorrow, and that a magnet will attract a paperclip. It is likely that someone in our class will be absent tomorrow, that at least one of our classmates has a loose tooth, and that we will see a deer in the forest. It is unlikely that we will see a shooting star tonight, or go to the beach tomorrow. It is impossible that we will meet a dinosaur in the forest, or grow wings and fly to the moon. The children were fantastic at using their previous knowledge and experiences to predict the likelihood of something occurring in the future!
We spent a few days exploring probability through games. We discussed the likelihood of a dice or spinner landing on the number three, and the probability of choosing a red card out of a deck of 52 cards. We put 10 blue cubes and one orange cube in a bag and asked the children to describe the likelihood of pulling out a blue or orange cube without looking.
We played a coin-tossing game where we predicted and recorded in a table how many times a toonie would land on the queen or the polar bear after 12 tosses. Using facts we already know and the math skills we have already learned, we estimated that the coin would land on each side six times. This is a great prediction, and the children had a clear understanding that it was not certain that the toonie would land precisely “heads” up half the time and “tails” up half the time. It is possible (but unlikely) that all 12 coin tosses could have landed on "tails."
Stuart J. Murphy’s storybook, Probably Pistachio, was an excellent tool for fostering a link between literature and mathematical ideas. During the course of one very bad day, the main character, Jack, uses probability to predict what will be packed in his lunch, whether he’ll be placed on the same soccer team as his best friend, and if his mom will serve his favourite ice cream for dessert. The book uses mathematical terminology and contains illustrations, charts, and graphs that explain probability. Learning how to make informed predictions helps children analyze data in order to make wise decisions.
This week, we had two veterinarians visit our class. They each practise very different aspects of veterinary medicine, and shared information about their jobs. Brian (Alexandra’s dad) is a Wildlife Pathologist. Part of his job involves examining animal remains to determine a cause of death. Brian brought an assortment of skulls with him. Ranging in size from a tiny turtle to a massive moose, the skulls (and how Brian came to acquire them) were of great interest to the students. By examining the teeth and the placement of the eyes, the children were able to predict whether the skull belonged to a predator or a prey species.
Meredith (Ryan’s mom) practises small animal medicine at a local veterinary clinic. She brought an assortment of animal x-rays, and invited the students to determine what might have made the animal seek treatment. Several animals had swallowed objects they shouldn’t have, and we could clearly see the outline of a toy car, an action figure, and even a spoon! On another x-ray, we could see the forms of several tiny kittens inside their pregnant mother. Meredith demonstrated how she would apply sutures to close a surgical incision. She brought each student a kit containing a hair net, face mask, latex gloves, a syringe, and bandages so that we could be vets-in-training.
We are so appreciative of visitors to our classroom! Your job or special skills are likely much more interesting than you realize! Although the end of the school year is upon us, please let us know if you would be willing to visit our class in the fall.
Wednesday we will have two veterinarians visiting the class. Please send your child to school with a stuffed animal tomorrow. We will have the opportunity to do some bandaging and be vets-in-training!
Friday is our big end of year celebration picnic! Please bring a picnic lunch for you and your family, along with a picnic blanket and outdoor play equipment (if you'd like). This is a relaxing event to get together and celebrate a year of success!
1:30 pm start time - Room One. We will move to the gym if it’s raining.
Can't wait to see you there!!!!
Please remember to send your child to school with a hat and sunscreen (applied first at home).
Have a wonderful day!
On several of our recent trips outdoors, we brought binoculars and magnifying glasses with us. By offering these tools at many familiar locations (forests, ponds, and parks), we got to observe the children using the materials in a variety of both predictable and unexpected ways. The students used the binoculars and magnifying glasses to look for wildlife and examine insects up close. They were very curious, and asked many interesting questions about what they were noticing on the ground and in the sky.
While at the playground watching his friends on the swings through his binoculars, one student jumped back in surprise when he perceived that he might be in the path of an oncoming swing. He was never in any danger, as objects, when viewed through binoculars, are, in fact, much further away than they appear! It was also very interesting to see how a magnifying glass became a dramatic play prop when one student held it like a detective and looked for things that might be “suspicious.” So fun!
Mme Hulskramer prepared a forest scavenger hunt that offered the students a wonderful opportunity to explore familiar natural spaces with a specific purpose in mind. Independently or in small groups, the children searched for les feuilles, les vers de terre, les oiseaux, et les roches. The use of French allowed new vocabulary to be introduced and reinforced. Interestingly, the earthworms that were plentiful on rainy days were much more elusive when it was dry. To solve this problem, the students needed to consider earthworms’ habitats. “Where might worms go when it’s hot and sunny outside?” The children overturned logs and dug in the soil. The students also had to use their senses to search for something crunchy, something wet, something soft, and something an animal might eat.
As they located the items, the students used pencils and clipboards to record their observations using pictures and/or words, thereby allowing for multiple entry points for both JKs and SKs. Writing in the early years passes through many identifiable and sequential stages. We noticed students using lines, squiggles, letters, inventive spelling, and stick drawings when they recorded their observations. We also saw recognizable words and very sophisticated illustrations. All of these attempts at print are developmentally appropriate!
Next week, we will be making community soup, bread, and fruit salad. This is a great activity that allows children the opportunity to see how providing just one small item can create something great. We will go over kitchen/cooking safety measures as we prepare and cut our fruit, and cook our soup. Please send in vegetable broth, a vegetable, or a fruit so your child can add their own special ingredient. For example, apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapple, berries (or frozen berries); potatoes, broccoli, carrots, celery, beans, spinach, etc... Should be yummy! Miam !!!
Two students had an idea to set up a hair salon in the classroom. When asked about what tools and supplies they might need, the girls drew pictures of a comb, brush, water spray bottle, scissors, blow dryer, apron, hair straightener, etc. With the assistance of Mme Hulskramer, the students learned the French words for many of these items and labeled their illustrations.
By the following school day, Mme Hulskramer had collected many of the supplies requested by the girls. Many other students quickly joined in the play. After reassurances that salons are definitely not “just for girls,” several boys found roles in the hairstyling team. The children cooperatively shared the supplies and took turns styling each other’s hair. After a short while, the salon expanded to offer many spa services as well. “Clients” were soon offered manicures, makeovers, and facials, complete with cucumbers!
The students used their emerging literacy skills when they created a graphic organizer of the supplies they would need to launch their salon. Pictures, letters, and words were incorporated seamlessly and authentically into the children’s play because they were writing with a specific purpose in mind. The students displayed teamwork when they collaborated to make hair creations. They practised fine motor skills by twisting elastics, fastening barrettes, weaving braids, painting nails, and applying pretend make-up. From the beginning when the children brainstormed and recorded the supplies they required, to the evolution of the salon into a spa, this play experience was planned and guided entirely by the children. Bravo!
UGDSB Kindergarten Teacher