Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow or Shine...Outside is Fine

It's Groundhog Day....well, it was just yesterday.  What is it about Groundhog Day that makes you think of spring?  Is it that Groundhog Day is exactly halfway between winter solstice and the spring equinox?  Is it that you are tired of winter and hoping for an early spring?  Is it that you want to be outside "dancing your merry kinder kapers"?

Don't let the weather stop you (you will get cold long before your students will.  Layer up!).  I am all about getting out and exploring the world around me.

Two things I like to do when Groundhog Day rolls around are explore shadows and go on a Let's Find Spring scavenger hunt.

Shadows and the passing of time.

If the groundhog sees his shadow, there is supposed to be six more weeks of winter.  In this old English song they sing:

If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas Day brings clouds and rain,
Go, Winter and come not again.

But, what is a shadow and how does it work?  These are all good questions for a Kindergartener to ask.  We explore shadows by tracing them with chalk.

Start first thing in the morning, find an open spot, trace the shadow of a student or two.  TIP: trace a box around their feet so they will know exactly where to stand for the second tracing.

Trace again (we did this at every recess)

and again...

And just when they your kiddos thnk they know what will happen next...SURPRISE!!  Their shadow grows tall.

At this point I like to share Robert Lewis Stevenson's poem My Shadow.  Lot's of good conversation about the earth, the sky, and the sun that does not move.

Then play some games.  Games like shadow tag and can you jump on my head, feet, arms, and other various body parts.  Remember children need the fresh air and sunshine.  They can tolerate a lot more cold than you can, especially if they are dressed correctly.

Too much snow trace with chalk?  In years past we have used a stick to trace in the snow.  This year I thought I would try snow paint (thin tempera paint in a spray bottle), but no snow for us, so it is chalk on the blacktop again

Let's Find Spring Scavenger Hunt

The second activity I like, is to go on a hunt for signs of spring.

Take your students outside and take a good look at the trees.  Closely look at the buds and the bark.  How big are the buds?  Are they still tight?  Do they look fuzzy?  Do they look different from one tree to the next?  Do you think the tree is dead?

Record and draw what you see.  A simple folded and stapled Nature Journal is great to keep track of what you are finding   Great for drawing, great for adding pictures you can take with a digital camera.  Don't do this only once....revisit the same tree and keep track of the changes.  Remember to bring out clipboards or something stiff to write on and pencils. 
We pick a tree in a special part of our schoolyard (we are lucky to have an outdoor education area with fruit trees and native "wild" areas).  We watch the tree closely all year long.  We have some fun  fall when they are loaded with apples and pears.

In the winter we check them out to see if we can tell if they are still alive.  Look at the buds.  Look closely.  Look around.  What do you see?

It doesn't have to be a fruit tree, any tree will do.

Rain, Snow, Sunshine.....take your children out in any kind of weather.  Look closely.  Find words to describe what you see.
Try this activity from Seconds at the Beach using paint chips to find colors in the world around you.  You will really want to look close, notice the details.  Elizabeth suggests you rename the colors on the paint chips.  Read all about it here.

This is Terri Izatt challenging you to:  Dance in the snow, Dance in the sunshine....Dance in the shadows....but just join me outside, dancing our merry kinder kapers.

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