Week 26: Engineering Leprechaun Traps!

Building Leprechaun Traps:

 Science, Engineering, Art, and Literacy come together!

Letters and Leprechauns!

Last week, we brainstormed ideas that children wondered about regarding leprechauns.
We wrote them down on the board. Later, students wrote letters to the leprechauns asking them all the questions they had. This week the Leprechaun Clan of O’Doole, McCleary and Green responded! Every day, they left us a new note in rhymes and riddles.

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The children were well primed after Dr. Seuss week and truffalla word families work to decipher the meaning of the poetry they gave us. The kids put on their engineering hats with the goal of trapping them and asking more questions in person! Students designed and built their own leprechaun traps using recyclable materials, with the goal of including at least ONE simple machine.

Slideshow of the Engineering/Decorating Process

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What are “Simple Machines” to Kindergarteners?

I put together a powerpoint about simple leprechaun facts that would help us in building our traps and the children were SUPER engaged and glued to every fact! We also saw and discussed how simple machines help to “do the work for us” by using force in different ways to make our designs stronger without the use of technology.  I gave them examples of simple machines in the power point and in the moment with models. Then, we played the Leprechaun game, where they hid around the room and became ‘invisible’ and I made a simple machine trap with gold inside to trap them. They ran out quickly and tried to get it. They loved it! We played the game 2 times 🙂 Afterwards, we talked about how the trap had to be strong. “If we’re going to trap tricky leprechauns, then our machines need to be sturdy and strong without us helping it. Remember, they’re coming when we’re gone so the traps have to function soundly without our help!” Christine also brought plans her kids drew up in previous years to show how simple machines worked and she described the results based on the effectiveness of each design. They really thought about the aspects of engineering a good IMG_3455trap and use at least 1 of the 6 simple machines we covered:
  1. Wedge
  2. Incline
  3. Pulley
  4. Lever
  5. Wheel & axel
  6. Screw
On Tuesday, many children engineered traps independently and then combined traps, later. The collaboration between kids and how they imagined their simple machines working together made for an incredibly focused and fruitful experience.  At the beginning, kids mostly worked in pairs or on their own, but, by the end of the day, they had massive groups of 4-5 kids who had chosen to somehow combine their various pieces into a massive trap. They ended up revising their design plan and learning the definition of a ‘draft’. The final product was much more detailed on paper than their first attempt. There was a lot of interest in kids wanting to share how their trap worked, and that got other kids excited and interested in working together and combining traps. We left our traps out Wednesday afternoon, so that the leprechauns could “visit” the classroom in the night and what they discovered Thursday morning was unbelievable…
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Reading the letter!

 The Leprechauns’ Mischief

All the kinder teachers had a “meeting” Thursday morning before school and so we were “late” and hurriedly arrived to our classrooms after the first bell. At first, I couldn’t open the door! “Those tricky leprechauns were pulling it!” Kids said. The key wouldn’t work and all the parents and kids were waiting and looked pretty confused. I was so embarrassed (tehe). Then, as I swung the door open…we couldn’t believe our eyes! The kids gasped, some screamed, and all jaws were on the floor aghast at the sight: “WHAT THE HECK!”  “OH MY GOSH!” “HOLY COW!” We couldn’t believe what a mess these leprechauns made! I immediately had the kids go back outside and read the leprechauns’ letter to them (which was left on the upside down message board), before we reentered.

We read their rhyme and talked about safety agreements for entering the classroom, how

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Opening the door….!!!!

to share whatever treats or things they left for us, and later one about how to help clean up the space. When we walked in, there were streamers on the ceiling, glitter on the floor, books that made pathways, green leprechaun glitter all around, gak poured into a pool, and almost ALL the building toys had been played with! Structures were left under tables and around traps.
They found little ladders and signs left by the leprechauns all around their traps! The leprechauns also gifted us cookies, chocolate gold coins, clover plants and purple flowers for the fairies, because they told their fairy cousins to come visit (since they had so much fun!) We looked and looked, but alas, we didn’t trap a single one! We gave them a run for their money, though, almost trapping 19 according to their letter to us. Additionally, they left a letter answering ALL our questions we wrote to them, last week. After having fun, and exploring the remains of their “party” on Wednesday night, we had to work together to clean up after them! Byron repeatedly said, “The leprechauns should have to clean up their own mess! That’s not fair!” He wasn’t wrong and many agreed! But what can you do? We cleaned it up, anyway! Later that day, each child wrote a reflection about what surprised them the MOST about the leprechauns’ visit!

We look forward to the arrival of the leprechauns’ less messy, but equally magical cousins, the fairies 🙂

Slideshow & Video of the Early St. Patrick’s Day Discoveries!

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 Unexpected Scientific Fun!


Irish soda bread!

In the afternoon, we had an unplanned adventure where some of the kids chose to work with the 1st graders on another engineering challenge – building a (solar) oven that could melt a marshmallow.  All the kids received one marshmallow and had access to recyclable cardboard/plastic materials, aluminum foil/trays, and other random art supplies.  A few kids seemed confused at first about “oven-making” (“Where are we getting the electricity to turn our oven on?”) until they realized that they were trying to capture the sun’s heat.

  • One child immediately went and got a skewer, put her marshmallow on it, and then ran out into the sun holding the skewered marshmallow up in the air so that it could catch the sun’s rays.
  • One group of kids built a “pretend” campfire using paper materials, stuck their marshmallow on a skewer, and then “roasted” them over the fire.
  • There were numerous kids that teamed up with some of the 1st graders from Room 12 to build an oven.  It was a really good team-building opportunity to work with a new group of kids.

Mark Those Calendars!

  • D2 Space Odyssey Mission in Rm 7: Amber (snipit@ymail.com/(408) 505-5580) is 2017-03-16 08.48.12planning anAMAZING all day space exploration and training for our 22 little astronauts, but WE NEED YOUR HELP! She sent an email about materials and volunteers she needs and is in desperate need of parent helpers! PLEASE COME TO THE CLASSROOM TOMORROW at 11am. We are excited for this space mission Odyssey OR as NASA would call it an, “Extended Duration Orbiter Mission” Day.  See details later in blog below!
  • Community Snack Schedule:  This week is the Ho family. Please use the snack signup genius here to sign up for a week to bring snack. Let the Snack Coordinator  Kudsana (kkizaraly@yahoo.com) know if you need special accommodations or are unable to fulfill your commitment. And a BIG thank you to the Hunter family for snack last week!
  • Pod-Wide Spring Celebration: Friday March 31st before the potluck (time TBD)

    Story Workshop

    Some fun activities we will have include visiting baby chicks, eggs-ercsise hunts, egg races, egg dying, egg decorating, and planting!

  • Parent Meeting: Wednesday, March 22nd
  • FUTURE Parent Meeting Dates:  Skipping February (short month, too many conflicts), Wednesday March 22nd, Wednesday April 26th, Wednesday May 24th, andWednesday June 14th.
  • PSC Meeting: Wednesday March 15th 6:30-9pm
  • Board Meeting: Thursday March 16th 6:30-8pm
  • Field Trip:  Tuesday March 28th at AMES Research Center which ties in nicely to the space unit we’re doing. Because of traffic we’ll need to leave as close to 8:30am as possible!
  • The Spring Green Feast: On March 31st from 12:00-12:50pm, we’ll celebrate the coming of spring having a fun GREEN feast of all green foods provided by the bounty of the earth. Sort of like Stone Soup, everyone brings in an item to make salads, and that item also serves as a side dish for kids to choose from. Please view the sing-up genius HERE 

    and feel free to add anything else ‘green’ you feel might be appropriate! We’ll do some revamping of the compost leading up to the big day. The Green Feast is to remind us of the wonderful gifts and mysteries of nature’s goodness 🙂

  • Kinder Pod Performs for Community Sing! All families are welcome to join us on the last Fridays of each month for the sing. However, the kindergarten pod will be performing Friday April 28th for the school. Click here to see all the dates and who’s performing!

Weekly Highlights

  • No school on St. Patrick’s Day: On Friday 3/17 the staff had professional

    Animal Visitor: Frogs!

    development day, thus it was a 4 day week

  • Leprechaun Trap Challenge: On Thursday March 16th, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day! Our Leprechaun clan had to return to Ireland for St. Paddy’s day, so we think that’s why they came early 😉 In honor of this holiday, we engineered fun and effective Leprechaun Traps. The STEAM challenge was to create traps that had at least ONE simple machine and would decoratively entice the leprechauns inside the trap. Then, we left them over night on Wednesday and the leprechaun clan of 21 VISITED! See details, above!
  • Irish Soda Bread: Thanks to one of Joan’s parents who brought some in and shared it with us!
  • Animal Visitors: Sheila (Claudia’s mom) brought two different types of frogs for the kids to see!
  • Boys & Bathroom Agreements: It came to our attention that the boys’ side of the bathroom was being misused, again. They were peeing on the toilet paper roll on the wall, on the floor, in the sink, on the rug, weren’t flushing, bringing toys into he toilet, and peed in a firefighter’s helmet in the toilet. So, all 4 classrooms of boys sat down with teachers to discuss the situation. So far, it’s been better, but please continue having the talk with your children (especially boys) about bathroom agreements and expectations. Thanks!
  • Literacy: Writing design plans for leprechaun traps, making signs for their traps, and

    Decorating traps!

    writing reflections on the what was the most surprising aspect of our visit from the leprechauns.

  • Story Workshop: Children made their story workshop stories with the loose parts cart and we shared all but 5 this week, on Wednesday via power point. Children have 10 seconds to look at someone’s work, then say what they think it might be. After, either I or they read their story and explain what the parts represent. They have time for 1 minute of questions or comments. So far, everyone has been warmly received and supported!
  • Science: Engineering leprechaun traps and learning about 6 simple machines. They chose one to add to the trap.
  • Art: Decorating leprechaun traps with various green materials!


    Go Noodle: Voting on a NEW champ!

  • Just-Right Reading! Each morning, parents can help kids choose leveled books to take home and practice reading with children. Please be sure to return the books and put them in the proper bins!
  • 1-on-1 Reading: From now on, I will take emerging and beginner readers (Fountas & Pinnell level A-G) 1-on-1 to practice reading and work on sight words
    during Quiet Time, and both mid-range readers (H-K) and high readers (L-N, and above) will go with TK teacher Carol for guided readings group 1-2x a week. I also read 1-on-1 with children who ask during exploration, as well.
  • Monday and Thursday Treat:  The Leprechaun’s Gold movie and The Night before St. Patrick’s Day read-aloud video (since I lost my voice), along with two other read-alouds How To Catch A Leprechaun and Happy St. Patrick’s Day Curious George.

 D2 Space Odyssey Mission Countdown: The Schedule For Our Space Mission Launch Day!

unnamed-16THIS Monday March 20th, our astronauts in training will coming wearing white, blue or any NASA or American inspired clothing. They will check in at 8:30am, sign their name with the commanding officer (attendance) and pick up their badges and gear and will be guided through the exciting careers, cool technology and some history that space frontier travel has to offer our young cadets. Amber is hoping for a guest speaker(s) and parent volunteers to help guide this portion of the lesson.  “I have some material for this portion. However, I am happy to accept more ideas too.  If parents wants to help with this part, let’s meet ahead of time to create, talking-point, cue-cards together before the event.”
We will take a recess break then come back to enjoy a “Press Conference Luncheon” unnamed-17(Snack inside the classroom) by 10-10:30 a.m.  They will get to learn about how, what and taste the foods that astronauts eat in space.  Christine will host a mini lesson on states of matter, “freeze dried & plasma-like food”!  How cool is that?!
We will then get into a theatrical portion of the play day.  Kids will attend mission control center, go through astronaut training exercises, take the pledge & oath and get ready for our count-down blast-off, and climb inside our shuttle! We will watch a short video on vortex math /space. “I’ll need a parent volunteer to handle all video, projector, music and lights for the duration of the activities from 11-12:30 pm. While we are enclosed and acting out inside our make shift shuttle (which is just an easy up, made to look like a shuttle), I’ll need a parent volunteer to roll out bubble wrap, turn on the hazer (water vapor machine) and black lights, because our first stop, is the moon!”
We will get out and search for moon rocks.  Moon rocks will be the river rocks, spray painted with glow in the dark paint and moon facts written on them.  Ahead of this day, we will create the rocks and encase these fact finding messages in a crusty shell around the rock using baking soda and pop rock concoction.  The day of, the kids will hunt for one rock each using tongs (fine motor skill activity) and they will get to dissolve the moon rocks crusty shell in a bucket of vinegar to unveil the secret moon fact written on it.  We will share the facts with each other.  This is a take home gift.
After that we will climb back in our shuttle, for our second mission around our solar unnamed-20system, which will be watching a guided projector activity on the ceiling of the easy up, about our solar system.  We will venture back to earth, climb out and play solar planet Simon says to test their knowledge of what they learned about the planets. A parent volunteer is needed to set up this scene by changing up the room by rolling up and putting away the bubble wrap and setting out Simon says game pieces.  Cue cards will be read by Teacher Kate or a volunteer and they have to figure out which planet to land on when the recognize the facts about that particular planet. Then, around 12:20pm – Kids will break for lunch.
Upon returning, there will be several activities… They will be given scratch art paper or paper with solar planets stickers to map out where and how our solar system is laid out. These can be laminated later as place mats! An out of this world art station to be set up.  Here they will create using the spice jar, a Nebula galaxy, as a take home memento. One or two volunteers unnamed-18would be appreciated here to help monitor them pouring colored water and glitter into the cotton ball layered jars, as well as hot glue gun the lid on.

There will be bio lab boxes set up to try out, two to four kids at a time at this station.  This is their chance to mine for rocks and test out what it’s like running a mini bio lab. Another station to be set up called Stargazing for letters and number search.

Other various themed activities will eventually guide us to a movement break out doors between 2ish-2:50 pm for pick up.    This will occur about 2 pm outside. I do want the kids to be totally surprised, so MUM is the word!

Amber Martines, C.R.S., G.R.I.

408-505-5580, snipit@ymail.com

Story Workshop & Sharing

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