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We meet again! It has been so long since I have posted and since you have visited.  Welcome back!  I will do my part (on writing more) if you do your part on visiting the blog and posting more comments.  Can you help me keep our goal?

We had been in a cooking project which lead us to cooking appliances used in the kitchen mainly the skillet, crock pot, blender and magic bullet.  We have several questions for someone who might be able to share how electricity works in relation to these items.

Today, several children joined to sketch a cord from a crock pot.  One question that has come up several times is whether or not the electricity that powers kitchen appliances is different from those that power our cell phones, lamps, etc.  A child wondered if we sketched, investigated, compared and contrasted the two cords if that would answer our question.  So, we started that journey today.20E074F8-5056-A053-5EAB8CEDC24EE7DE_456762550-15136_062315104631_NA

Above: A child (4.8) sketches the cord.  He counts five lines in the cord and draws five lines on his paper. He then identifies a square and makes it.  He then traces the rest of the cord before completing his work.

Do farm animals like our food?

As we work on our farm project, children have been wondering what animals are on a farm.  They also have been wondering if the animals think the same type of food that smells good to us smells and tastes good to the animals.  This discussion arose as we learned and studied silage. photo (63)

Today, after trying cabbage from our garden a child wondered if our bunny, Rio, would eat it. The children ran over calling any adult or child in their path to join them.  Children all joined near the bunny and a child fed the bunny some cabbage.  To the children’s surprise, he ate it!  The children now wonder, “Do horses and cows like cabbage?”



Many times, I am asked by students who do practicum hours in my classroom (for those of you who do not know we are a lab school and I have students join the room who are freshman to seniors to experience life in a preschool room.  Depending on the class, the students may observe, teach lesson or facilitate a project.) what is my favorite part about project work.  I felt  like this was  perfect time to share with you my thoughts.  Please feel free to add your own to the comments.

*The individual learning of each child!

-Some children may write a word for the first time.

-During this project, a little guy who is slow to warm has started the project work activity (whether it be my idea or his) every morning for three weeks (and counting!!)!

-Another of my little ones has remembered the origin of the ukulele and shares that with others.

-One of my older ones created his first three dimension representations and dealt with some frustrations along the way appropriately!

*The things that I learn as a teacher!!

– I learn about my own teaching such as how to engage children effectively with a project, what items I need to transform my room, and different ways to document the children’s learning.

-I also am able to see how amazing three, four and five-year olds are and always will be!  I see them grow in their own learning, begin to learn to represent, set goals for themselves, and work together as  a team.

-I learn details about specific items such as I now know all the parts of the ukulele!

*How caring our community  (both classroom and beyond) are to our children!

-We had the opportunity to meet with a local weather man who was more than gracious to our classroom!

-Families have been an outpouring support whether in my classroom or the community in our building.  This is also a wonderful way to get to know others and help teach the children about kindness, caring, and giving.


What’s your favorite part?



Our sauce experience began with the garlic. One child wondered if garlic only came “white like that”. Another child shared, “No, I don’t think so.” I shared I had something in my fridge that might help and the next day I brought in my container of minced garlic. A reader in my room read the word garlic right away. We opened up the container and smelled it and a child said, “Yup! That is the smell of garlic. Yum!” We then compared the difference between the minced garlic in my container and the actual garlic.

Some comparisons included:

  • “Smell like garlic.”
  • “One is white and one is orange or yellow.”
  • “Really tiny”
  • “flaky” about the garlic clove
  • “cold” about the minced garlic

We even tried it. After some children reported the clove of garlic was hot another child shared, “The other garlic is in water. Water makes things not hot. Like a fire.” I posed the question, “Will the pizza be hot if the garlic is hot?” The same child who shared that the pizza crust will not be sweet because there is not enough sugar shared again, (Click here for the post about Pizza Dough)”No. We are not putting TONS of garlic in.”

After we investigated each ingredient, we created another list of items to try and then we tried them! The children voted for the items they liked the best.  We then created the sauce and tried it again. To the children’s surprise, the sauce was not hot. “It was just right! Like in the three little bears!”



We started with making dough! The children spent three days making dough. Our intention was to make dough one day and the children’s learning, enthusiasm, and yes, some dropping of the dough made our decision change! We noticed and reflected that the children learned so many skills in three days. By the end of the three days, some children were telling Christy, the assistant in our room, the ingredients we need, the order to put them in, and the correct measurements. They were using measurement words and several of the pizza vocabulary.

We began with talking about each of the ingredients. The children labeled the items and discussed other recipes where they had seen that type of food before. We also gave the children an opportunity to taste the salt and sugar. We discussed how each of the items tasted and the children had the opportunity to write their names on chart whether they liked the item or did not. The children who needed help writing their names were guided by older children on how to write their names. They then returned to the table and as they waited for the yeast to dissolve in the mixture they discussed what the crust would taste like. One child shared, “It won’t taste like the sugar. I think we only put a little bit in. If you put a lot in then it taste like sugar!”

After creating batches of dough, the children started to take this into their play making play dough pizza’s or preparing dough at the Happy Joe store.


The answer is….





For those of you confused, click here to find the post associated with this answer.

The mystery item!

The children started pulling items about of our plastic bag to begin the preparation for our pizza sauce.

“What is that white thing?”

“That white thing?  An onion.  Onions go in pizza sauce.”

A child begins to pull pieces off of this mysterious white item.  Other children continue to take items out of the bag as they look back to see what their friend is doing.  Their friend continues to pull and pull pieces of this item.

“It’s an onion.  I’m sure!”

“But it doesn’t smell like an onion.  And it is not making my eyes water! Will you show me a picture of the onion on the computer?”

Mahi brings up a picture on the computer and the children agree it is not an onion.

The item is open and the children are peeling smaller and smaller pieces.  “I’ve smelled that before! It smells so good.  It is…..”

Before we add a picture, does anyone have any guesses what the children discovered together completely on their own?

Field Site Visit to Happy Joe’s!

IMG_2862We had the opportunity to have a field site visit to Happy Joe’s today. Yes, I said it. A field site visit not a field trip. When I think of a field trip, I think of being toured around a location where you just listen and can not ask questions. A field site visit is so the opposite. There are conversations, discussions, questions being asked, sketches, pictures being taken, and the children interacting with the environment. I don’t know about you, but I feel like this environment is much more inviting to the learning process of young children (and adults) than the typical field trip. An ideal situation is when you can visit the field site location often and dig deeper!

As we waited for the time to come to take our walk, several children created maps about how they thought we would get there. We talked about what we might see when we got there. We all met to discuss our plan for when we would go to Happy Joe’s. The children created a list of expectations for safety and then talked about what they might do when we were there.


One our way there, several children were discussing the path to get there talking about key landmarks or signs to remember how to get there. One children told another, “We have to turn left at the stop sign; do not forget that.” On the way back, a child had me take pictures of a few landmarks so they would not forget to add that to their map.

As we neared the strip mall where the Happy Joe’s was located the children noticed numbers on the brick and started to count each number from 5-12. When we reached Happy Joe’s there was no

number on the brick. A child was sure there was an address and we decided to move along the side of the building to see if the front had an address. We were able to peek in each of the windows and the children began to call things out that they were seeing, “Boxes! A worker! Pop! Ice cream! Did you know they had dough right there?”  We

IMG_3316One child shared, “I bet we could ask that man.”  We entered and saw an employee as soon as we walked in!  A reader in our room read his name and greeted him by his name right away which the rest of the children followed this suit.  We asked him for the address which he provided for us and then if we could sit and observe, sketch, and wonder about their establishment.  He politely agreed even before I explained to him about project work!  We spent time sketching and taking pictures and have brought those back to investigate further!continued around to the front and to our surprise no address was found.

Taking the project outdoors

IMG_3027A well picked project is a project that motivates and excites the children.  Each day, the children (and the staff!) should be so excited to learn the newest information or role play the information they have already learned.  We turn our entire classroom into our project.  For instance, during our tree project (click here to find out more!) the children turned our poles into trees and we created a grocery store called Hy-Vee during our Hy-Vee project.  With this project, we have added extra tables, materials from Happy Joe’s, and chairs to create our own restaurant.  The children have been discussing the types of pizzas and have been incorporating this in their play as we learn more about the restaurant.

I am lucky to be a part of a center which has a nature explore certified outdoor space. Outside, we have items available to use to extend and continue our projects outside.  To help enhance this current project, we have picnic tables, art materials, a house furnished with tables, chairs, dishes, pans, and tablecloths, and a Mud Kitchen.  For those of you unfamiliar with a Mud Kitchen, we have created an area outdoors where the children can experiment, use, and play with mud.  The area has materials including dishes, pans, bowls, whisks, spades, ladles, and cabinets.  One morning, several girls rushed over to the Mud Kitchen.  Several minutes later, I watched these same girls walk over the house which is near the Mud Kitchen area.  “Does anyone want anything from Happy Joe’s?”  Several children made their orders and the girls returned to the Mud Kitchen.  The girls used water and mud to create pizzas, baked them in their oven, and then called over their peers to join them for pizza.


IMG_2782Each year, month, week, and even sometimes daily, I try to challenge myself to do something that is out of my comfort zone or something I wouldn’t normally do.  Sometimes, it is trying something new and learning about it for the first time.  Other times it is something truly uncomfortable for me to try.  I think trying out new things is good even if I do not feel that way as I prepare for it.  Over the last few months, one of my colleagues has been encouraging me to offer more opportunities for the children  to create three-dimensional items on a larger scale and with a variety of materials.

Although, I am not at that goal yet I know that this work and they way I handled it is a stepping stone towards large representations.  On this day, two boys were working with paper towel tubes.  I noticed them using the rolls in block center.  The four rolls were being used to hold a piece of paper and they were using it as a building.  I mentioned it reminded me of a building at St. Ambrose University.  This then turned into a discussion of buildings which have columns.  One child says, “Can we use these to make a Happy Joe’s? But I do not think the one by our school has tower (columns).”

Thus began their creation.  I offered to bring up a picture of the Happy Joe’s.  The two boys spent forty-five minutes creating their Happy Joe’s store.  They used pictures from the store as well as IMG_2789their memory from trips that they have taken there with their families.  They started by discussing what materials they might need.  They brought over string, scissors, a hole puncher, and markers.  They worked on holding up the four paper towel rolls and asked for a box of some kind to help balance the paper towel rolls.  After a small search, the children found a box.  They hole punched the paper towel rolls and added string.  After attempting to connect this to the box, the boys decided they did not need the paper towel rolls as the real building did not have these. The boys began to transform a box into the store.  They started by cutting out doors in the front and the back of the building.  Each boy leading the efforts on their side of the box.  They youngest boy brings over a Happy Joe’s box and copies the words onto a sticky label.  He connects this to the box by the side of his door.  After both doors are cut open and labeled the boys decide one needs to be an emergency door like the one at the restaurant.  He uses a red piece of paper and cuts a piece off and places it in the inside of the door and writes fire on it. Another peer joins them and the boys share what they have done so far. He reminds the boys that they need tables and chairs.  The boy goes into the treasure chest (click here to find out more!) and finds baby food containers.  “If I turn these upside I could make a table.”  He then shows them the piece of fabric he has found.  “See this is the table-cloth.  Only some restaurants have these.”  Another child shares that we need tables and he begins folding business card like pieces of card stock in half.  He then cuts them to create chairs.  The child who created the chairs watches this work and then shares, “Those look like booths when they are not cut.”  He folds one in half and places it on the back wall of the restaurant.  He then reminds friends that Happy Joe’s has to have a kitchen to bake all the pizzas.  A friend finds a small rectangular box and they connect it to the shoe box.  They decide to return to it the next day finishing it off.

IMG_2804The following day, another child offers her opinion reminding the boys that a parking lot is needed for the customers to park.  She marks lines on a piece of paper and finds cars to ensure they will fit in each of the parking spots she has created.  She then tapes her paper to the box.  The children then act out going to a Happy Joe’s store before asking if it can be put up for display.

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