This Month in the YSI Classroom

“To empower our pupils for the future, we must prioritize learning through play over standardized testing.”   ~ The LEGO Foundation

Kindergarten – Paper and Wood Unit

Kindergarten students have been exploring simple machines in connection with the science unit on Paper and Wood. I introduced the wheel, the lever, the screw, the wedge, the incline plane, and the pulley. I set up examples of all of these simple machines in the hallway and in the Makerspace. Students were then able to investigate how all machines, including simple machines, have been designed to make work easier for us. We experimented with simple machines and the principals of movement and force.

Our exploration of simple machines serves as the springboard into the design process of constructing treehouses and fairy-houses. Using the design process students started using their imagination to think and describe their ideas. We researched tree houses and fairy-houses through books, “A Tree House” poem by Shel Silverstein, and other resources.

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Students were inspired this week and started drawing their blueprints. Their favorite story was Up in the Leaves: The True Story of the Tree Houses of Central Park, and photographs of treehouses and fairy-houses from around the world. Two students continued to add on to their treehouses after looking at The 13 Story Treehouse series (the last book is a 91 Story Treehouse).The author of the series drew blueprints inside of the covers of each book. Students loved some of the ideas, and these two particular students designed a skateboard board park, shark eating tank, a bowling alley and several other fun rooms for their treehouse.

I’ve established criteria for their constructions. All structures have to include the following:

  • a bridge
  • a ladder
  • a slide (simple machine) and one other machine of their choosing
  • railings or a wall (we talked about what railings were)
  • a platform (this was a new word for most kids)

I am challenging students to include at least two simple machines into their blueprints. They can add whatever else they’re inspired to create. Students already had great ideas and have excitedly told me what they want to create. One of my students named Gary said to me, “Ms. Alicia, science is better than ice cream!” Check out some of Gary’s blueprints below:

Next week, we will finish up their blueprints and begin constructing Treehouses and Fairy-houses.

Grade 1 – Weather Unit

Grade 1 students are celebrating National Poetry Month by creating poems about the weather. Their poems will be displayed on the third floor outside of their home room teachers’ classroom. I captured some of the students’ work through photos. Here is Mae writing her rain poem.

For the rest of this month, we will graph the weather and analyze the data. Next week, we will dive in deeper and design air balloons. Students were excited to hear that!

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